I am always on the look out for new programs, exhibits or events that help bring the message of global diversity alive for our sons - right here in Chicago. And, if it's entertaining, enlightening and educational all at once then that's all the better. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn about "Sita Ram," an original world musical taking the stage at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago for three performances this weekend on today (Friday, December 14) and Saturday, December 15.
"Sita Ram" is the amazing, artistic culmination of the Chicago-based creative collaboration between the Chicago Children's Choir, Lookingglass Theater Director David Kersnar, and the Natya Dance Theatre. The musical production is a modern interpretation of the ancient Hindu epic "Ramayana" (or Rama's Journey), a sacred 20,000 verse religious poem that teaches morality and ideal behavior through allegories. To this day, in East Asian culture, children grow up hearing the tale which explores human values and shows the power of love that's created when the protagonists, Sita and Rama, come together to bring the world peace and harmony - made possible only through the indelible force of love.
"Sita Ram" will feature nearly 200 performers (some as young as eight years old), including 100 singers, 32 dancers from the Natya Dance Company, 12 principle actors and actresses, and 23 acrobats from the Inappropriate Theater Company. The production will showcase a variety of musical genres including classical, hip-hop and South African, which highlight Chicago's wealth of talent and global influences.
In another nod to the wonderful creative resources here in Chicago, the costumes were designed by Azeeza Khan, creative director of Chicago-based Atelier AZZA.
"Sita Ram" isn't a stranger to Chicago theatre. The production first graced a Chicago stage back in 2006, when it made its world premiere at the Lookingglass Theatre to the accolades of fans who packed the small theatre for three weeks of sold-out shows. Now the production is back and bigger than ever, ready to delight new and old fans alike.
Showcasing the Best the World has to Offer in Chicago and Beyond
Part of the beauty of "Sita Ram" is that it promotes the multiculturalism of Chicago and the world. The diversity of the production is rooted in the creative forces who brought the original production together back in 2006. According to Crystal Bowyer, Director of Advancement for the Chicago Children's Choir, the creative team and the performers represent many different cultures, ethnicities and religions and are a true microcosm of the world. And, the world will be the stage even after the curtain goes down at the Harris Theatre on Saturday night.
Following its run in Chicago this weekend, the Chicago Children's Choir will take "Sita Ram" to India to tour the cities of Jaipur, Delhi, Bangalore, Agra and Chennai. It will be the first time the production, steeped in Indian folklore, will be seen by audiences in India.
World Business Chicago, the organization that leads Chicago's business retention, attraction and expansion efforts and seeks to raise the city's position as a premier global business destination, will travel with the Chicago Children's Choir to India. Together, the two organizations aim to further expand their collective understanding of Indian culture and share music from the original world musical.
The focus of the trip is inline with the overall mission of the Chicago Children's Choir, which was founded in 1956 during the Civil Rights Movement under the belief that youth from diverse backgrounds could better understand each other and themselves by learning to make beautiful music together. And, while the world seemingly has become a smaller place, the Chicago Children's Choir still believes it's important to help people understand and embrace everyone's similarities and differences.
"With the production of 'Sita Ram,' the Chicago Children's Choir is making a conscious effort to raise global ambassadors in Chicago," said Bowyer. "Each of the performers makes up the collective voice of Chicago, which is all about tolerance, acceptance, love and respect. Together, we can educate children at a young age to appreciate other cultures."
Now that's a wonderful message I understand, support and want to help promote as a mom raising two world citizens in Chicago - and another reason I am excited to see "Sita Ram" take the stage once again in our city this weekend.
It's Not too Late to Catch "Sita Ram" This Weekend
Tickets are still available for all three performances of "Sita Ram" taking place tonight (Friday, December 14) at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 15 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online on the Sita Ram website.
If you're interested in going to the Saturday evening performance, you can take advantage of a Buy One, Get One special offer currently available on Gilt City. The offer is good for two tier-two Orchestra tickets ($45) or two tier-one Orchestra tickets ($65) for that evening.
To everyone that goes to see Sita Ram, I hope you enjoy the show. Please let me know your thoughts on the production in the comments section below.
Here's to world citizens - and the wonderful message of world harmony and global diversity!