By Lachman Balani
MISSISSAUGA: Since most of you cannot travel to the Taj Mahal in far-away India, the Taj Mahal is coming to you here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) this season!
The arrival of `Taj’ was one of the few surprises sprung upon art lovers by Ron Lenyk, CEO of the Living Arts Centre here, when he unveiled the line-up for the upcoming 2013-2014 season.
And it was the gorgeous Lisa Ray, resplendently dressed in an elegant sari (a Satya Paul creation), and Lata Pada (winner of the Order of Canada) who came on stage to reveal that they are bringing Sampradya dance theatre’s production ‘TAJ’ to the Living Arts Centre on October 19, 2013.
Conceived by Lata Pada and directed by Canadian John Murell, the play is about the interaction Emperor Shah Jehan had in his last days with his daughter. Shah Jehan is famously known for the lavish and majestic mausoleum he had built in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz – the wondrous Taj Mahal. However this vibrant play brings to life Shah Jehan’s final days when he was imprisoned by his power-hungry son Aurangzeb.
Murrell explores Shah Jehan’s relationship with his eldest daughter, Begum Jahanara, through an impassioned dialogue. The Shah is masterfully portrayed by Bollywood veteran Kabir Bedi while the incandescent Lisa Ray takes on the intense role of his daughter. This is a not to be missed play for all theatre lovers.
Not only will there be a play, but the whole evening will be a South Asian experience replete with Moghlai food and an ‘in conversation with Lata Pada’ session, who will give a bit of history and background of the Moghul period in India.
Following that piece of news they introduced a grand and colourful classical dance routine by the Sampradaya troupe that prompted animated applause from the audience.
Leading up to this surprise announcement, the Living Arts Centre brought on one of Canada’s icons Rik Emmett from the rock band Triumph who charmed the audience with his all time classic ‘Lay it on the line’. There were various other acts including an amazing rendition of Irish dance to announce a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day celebration next year. The crowd was wowed by the dancers flitting and seemingly flying across the stage!
Throughout the evening, various members of the Living Arts Centre including the chairman, Chuck Ealey, came up to announce the great line-up they had in store including world renowned artists such as rocker Colin James, comedians Drew Carey, Jim Belushi, soul lady Darlene Love, Canadian rock icon Rik Emmett, a fantastic ballet from Shanghai, amazing plays and musicals including the all time Christmas classic ‘The Nutcracker’, the original teen idol ‘Frankie Avalon’ and scores more.
The finale came in with the rock band ‘The Spoons’ and their dazzling lady bassist that had the crowd going ‘wow, Suzi Quatro!’ and doing a sing along. Older patrons let loose their inhibitions and let it all hang down!
The variety program was followed by an excellent wine and cheese appreciation party that saw lots of old acquaintances getting fired up and new ones ignited. All in all, it was a splendid evening that unveiled a treasure trove of theatre, music and dance.
For more information: Visit www.livingartscentre.ca
(A financial consultant, Lachman Balani lives in Mississauga)