It’s a groovy kinda love in Chennai’s latest tryst with Shakespeare
Four months after the Madras Players staged their adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Jeffery Vardon is going to present his version of the classic — a dance musical with dance trainer Salsa Mani (of The Dance Port) and actress Varalaxmi Sarathkumar as the protagonists, both former students of Jeffery. “When my producer and student Varalaxmi requested me to conceptualise a different genre of musical, I thought about creating a well-known Shakespearean plot relevant for Indian audiences,” says the founder of city-based The Hot Shoe Dance Company, adding that the dance sequences were choreographed to romantic songs of AR Rahman (like Enakku Oru Girlfriend, Uyire Uyire, Thalli Pogathe). “Through the dialogues we have tried to bring the flavour of our local dialect into some lines from the original play,” says Jeffery, who asks us to expect expect a fusion of kuthu and hip-hop dance, along with tango and salsa as well.
Although Romeo and Juliet is an evergreen theme, this musical incorporates a more local flavour into its setting. “I have stayed faithful to the broad storyline but I have also weaved a story that could happen anywhere in modern India,” says Jeffery. For example, the duel between Romeo and Tybalt, here, happens inside a local bar. “Though it doesn’t take away the intensity or ominous signs this incident causes in the lives of Romeo and Juliet,” he assures.
Set in the coastal town of South India, their story tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers whose love for one another transcends the shackles of a long-standing family feud. “Throw in a feisty Juliet, a tapori Romeo, a lively sardar, and a Malayalee governess, together with Rahman’s music, and you’ve got a very Indian version of Romeo and Juliet,” he says.
“Planning for this musical began six months ago, while dance rehearsals were in full swing three months prior to the show dates. That said, my cast has been suggesting changes and enhancements along the way,” he says. Jeffery’s wife Cassandra Vardon is the chief costume designer and consultant, we learn. “Every costume has been carefully chosen, taking into consideration fabrics and design that will allow rapid costume changes as well as durability for high-intense choreography,” he says.
July 8-9. At Music Academy. 7 pm onwards. Tickets from Rs. 300 onwards on in.bookmyshow.com