Many moons ago – how long has it been since The Fairy Princess blogged…a while, apologies, my kid is almost 10 months as of this writing and he is pulling himself up on everything in an attempt to give me heart failure and himself a concussion every ten minutes.
Anyway, way back those many moons ago, I was sent a Casting breakdown for a new musical called BUNTY BERMAN PRESENTS, which was supposed to take place in Bollywood – which, if you have never heard of it, is India’s Hollywood only with more musical numbers and no full frontal nudity. (Just kidding Bollywood, I know who you are)
Bollywood is a wonderful place full of talented people. People who sing, and dance, and act – often at the same time. They are a People who Perform for People, and they make way more films than the United States Film Industry.
So I was thrilled to hear that The Acorn Theater was going to do a new musical based on this concept until I read the Casting Breakdown which stated “NOTE: We are open to seeing actors who are non Indian but who can believably play Indian characters.”
This was super not cool. This was like saying, “We thought that hideous Bollywood-esque production of PIPPIN in Chicago was a GREAT idea!
This was like saying Moises Kaufman is going to have me over for Passover Seder!
This was like saying everyone was ok with no South Asians in South Asia….actually, it wasn’t ‘like‘, was it? That was what it was ACTUALLY saying.
It was looking to be a very “Drood” Bunty….with everyone in Brownface and accenting up a storm…and The Fairy Princess did use it as an example of what the trickle down effect can be when we “Whitewash’ Asian Americans out of Asia.
However, Director Scott Elliott very sneakily grabbed a page from the ACT Playbook and yep, he gone and dun it!
In a musical set in India, he cast South Asians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Not only that – he cast Erik Avari…who I j’adore as Bunty!
WHY do I j’adore?
BECAUSE HE IS IN THE MUMMY!!!!!!!!
The Fairy Princess has an unusual love for that film…and all it’s many spinoffs…she has even, dare I confess, watched that one about The Scorpion King when he was a young man…anyway, as Whitney used to sing, “it’s not right, but it’s ok”…but I mean COME ON a Mummy that comes back to life and is HOT? What’s not to love?
Anyway, not ONLY are there people who were born in India playing the role of someone who was born in India….wait a minute…I can’t…I have to….can we stop for a moment and just yell SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!!!!!!! This is AWESOME!
It was the LAST thing I ever expected, given the Casting Breakdown that went out. I thought it was going to be a hot mess that would make everyone’s third eye get a twitch. Honestly, I did. I was wrong.
So here’s the deal, The Fairy Princess wrote about the “Broadway Brown” of Edwin Drood and mentioned that Bunty was coming up and possibly not having South Asians in the production. People got very mad, and tweeted mean and nasty things to The Fairy Princess, things that were ignorant and based in racism and all sorts of stuff. Things got a little threatening, and things got quite heated. Why everyone was so ‘het up’ over a show that had already announced it’s closing was the real mystery.
All that kerfuffle made The Fairy Princess kinda….not mad, not sad, certainly not glad, (I’m not effin’ Anne of Green Gables) but just a little tiny bit exasperated at how many Caucasians tried to ‘school’ me on what a ‘show within a show’ means and how many were convinced it was their ‘right’ to use exaggerated face paint and use exaggerated gestures to typify a culture because when they did that role in college, they had a great time.
The Fairy Princess was feeling a bit…well, annoyed that every time she wrote a blog post it had to include a map to show where in Asia they were white washing the culture from. The Fairy Princess was starting to think that the umbrella was not adequate for the sh*tstorm that seemed to rain down on her each and every time she pointed out things every Director should be on board with – things like context and authenticity and yes, creativity.
The Fairy Princess’s wings had drooped and her tiara needed a polish. But her crystal ball told her to not lose faith, to check back in and see what the situation was with Bunty Berman Presents, after all….anything can happen in the wood….
The Fairy Princess put on her Mary Poppins “Spoonful of Sugar” recording, and went internet searching, and low and behold…. it seems…it seems…it seems…the point has been made.
Which makes TWICE! (San Fran’s ACT was 1st)
The Fairy Princess does not take credit – maybe this was their plan ALL ALONG?!?!?! Who knows? But perhaps, perhaps she helped a little bit. Perhaps being a mouthy Asian American with an Internet connection has hit a chord? A Dominant Seventh? Who knows what would have been the result if there had been blogging back when Miss Saigon was opening on Broadway with a Caucasian playing a Eurasian Pimp?
It seems that people are listening. Or reading, rather.
(I mean, no one would actually be LISTENING to me unless I was speaking at a conference…I’m available for weddings and bar mitzvahs too, btw…) Anyway…
Let’s DO this thing:
The Fairy Princess would like to congratulate the Cast of BUNTY BERMAN PRESENTS: Erick Avari, Raja Burrows, Nick Choksi, Katie Chung, Sevan Greene, Andrew Guilarte, Shoba Narayanan, Lyn Philistine, Debargo Sanyal, Pallavi Sastry, Gayton Scott, Lipica Shah, Alok Tewari and Sorab Wadia
She would also like to give five tips of the tiara to Director of The New Group, Scott Elliot, who is helming this production – written by Olivier Award nominee Ayub Khan Din and Grammy and Emmy Award winner Paul Bogaev.
Careful the things you write, people will listen….