The dramatic musical Once Upon a Star is all set for a refreshing treat after the pandemic

Written and directed by Mike, the play tells the story from the perspective of King Herod
Reshma Roy and Craig Lobo in a scene from the  play
Reshma Roy and Craig Lobo in a scene from the play

It is very well known by all of humankind how Jesus was born in Bethlehem (4 BC) in Judea within the Roman Empire. But how about reliving the epic event in the 21st century through a musical? Yes, you read that right! Come this Sunday, the stage will be set with a dramatic musical that features the story of how the second-century religious leader was born. A musical play Once Upon a Star with Mellow Circle’s 27-members choir will be performed at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall. We caught up with the cast during a rehearsal earlier this week and pre-rehearsal chaos was interrupted with, “All  out! Come in on your cues,” the master of the play — seasonal theatre director Michael Muthu’s (popularly known as Mike), announcement.  

An intimate tale

Written and directed by Mike, the play tells the story from the perspective of King Herod (played by Yohan Chacko) — a tyrannical and paranoid king who was plagued by fears of a coup. With four simultaneous stories — the Three Wise Men (Thomas Philip, Arul Chitranjan and Prem Thomas), King Herod and his Queen (Yohan and Ameera D’Costa), Rachel and Barnabas (Susan Jacob and Rohan Thomas Philip) and Joseph and Mary (Craig Lobo and Reshma Roy) — the play unveils the significance of the birth of Jesus and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. It may sound familiar to many, but the director tells us that it is a completely new take on the ancient story. “Not many people would know about this story. What people know about Christmas is Santa Claus and some miracles happening but that’s not what Christmas is about. It is about the birth of a saviour,” explains Mike as he informs us that the story intimately delves into the question of why Jesus was born. “I am trying to tell a deep and dark story in a lighter way and with a lot of music to make it interesting.”

A scene from the rehearsal
A scene from the rehearsal

Season’s treat

With an ensemble of 32 performers in 25 scenes over three acts, the play promises a refreshing treat after the pandemic as part of Mellow Circle’s musical before Christmas, a tradition for the last 22 years. “This play is like a Christmas -starting announcement,” says Mike adding that he wrote the play in six days. He also tells us that this is the only time when the choir comes together for the performance. “None of the choir members is a professional singer. They all come together at this time and perform. It’s a completely different experience for me too,” says the director.

Writer-director Michael Muthu
Writer-director Michael Muthu

But were there any apprehensions to tell the story from the antagonist’s point of view? “Not at all. It’s the truth I am telling. I was excited to bring this story from a different angle,” he says. Although the play is set before the second century, you can expect a contemporary presentation in acting, design and music with four original solos written by Mike and composed by Jonathan Totus and Jachin Hemanth. Interestingly, this will be the first large-scale performance in SMVR Concert Hall as it reopens after the lockdown.

The show will have a special screening for school children on Saturday.

Tickets: Rs 300 onwards. Available at November 28, 7 pm, At Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall.

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