Monday, February 5, 2018

Chitra: The Girl Prince—NW Children’s Theatre—NW Portland

“Faraway, So Close”

     This East Indian fable, with dance and music, is written by Avantika Shankar and directed and choreographed by Anita Menon and Sarah Jane Hardy (Artistic Director for NWCT), with fight choreography by Kristen Mun and composer/sound design by Rodolfo Ortega.  It is playing at their space, 1819 NW Everett St. (parking is a bear in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through February 25th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-222-2190.

     “Once Upon a Time…and They Lived Happily Ever After,” bookends for amazing adventures of Yesterdays, Tomorrows and Forever mores.  In-between is the “stuff dreams are made on.”  This is a tale of today, especially, for every girl who seeks equal status with male counterparts, and just to be accepted for who they are, not for anybody’s else’s image of who they should be.  This is a morality lesson from the Ages that echoes loudly to future generations!

     Royalty in this kingdom was expected to be passed down to male heirs to rule.  But this King (Heath Hyun Houghton) has been favored by the gods with a girl instead, Chitra (Alisha Menon, also dance captain), and so she is, quite appropriately, a girl prince.  This means she must, unfairly, fight harder to prove herself worthy in the eyes of their subjects and, especially, the other soldiers.  Particular defiance comes from the Captain of them, Raje (Avish Menon), who thwarts her every chance he gets.

     Their mettle will be tested when some of the peasants revolt and they become outlaws, led by their Bandit King (Zero Feeney, also fight captain).  But all is not so simple in this yarn from many moons ago.  Chitra is beginning to feel the yearnings of a young woman, to have a husband and a family.  And so, as in all good fairy tales, she meets an exiled prince in the forest one day, Arjun (Ken Yoshikawa), and the story includes a romance.  This whole affair is related to us by means of two gods, the fey, Madan (Houghton, again) and his counterpart, the matronly, Vasand (Sudipta Majumdar).  To experience the outcome, you’ll just have to see it for ourselves.
But the outstanding aspects of this production are in the presentation:  The amazing, colorful costumes by Mary Eggers; the very versatile and vibrant set and props by John Ellingson; the expressive lighting by Carl Faber; the marvelous video projections by Andrés Alcalá; Ortega’s music, and sound (w/Jake Newcomb); and the award-winning, Mun’s, extraordinary fight scenes, which are stunning!

     And I can’t say enough good things about the dancing (Hardy & Menon), as well as directing, both responsible for last season’s excellent “Jungle Book,” too.  When it comes to choreography for a musical, I believe Hardy and her team take top honors in theatre for the North West for that!  And the dancers are worthy of a mention, too (too numerous to name), so kudos to the Soldiers, Bandits and Opening/Closing dancers, as well.

     Alisha Menon, in the title role, is a lovely young lady, who knocks it out of the park with her dance/fight scenes, as well as her strength of character of succeeding in making all of her dreams come true.  And, in the comic department, Houghton, as Madan, steals the show with his comedic timing, energy and flitting about the stage, like a bee pollinating the atmosphere with laughter.  An exceptional cast of performers who must be exhausted to the bone after a performance.
I highly recommend this show, especially for the dancing. 
    If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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