Over the decades, New York City theatergoers have had opportunities to see many renditions of “Romeo and Juliet,” but next month at Manhattan’s Access Theater, they’ll have their first chance to see Shakespeare’s tragedy performed with a Bollywood aesthetic. (“Bollywood” generally refers to the robust Hindi-language film industry, characterized by high drama, a variety of intersecting themes, and elaborate song and dance sequences.) Starring as Juliet will be Brinda Dixit, whose theatrical career began at Children’s Fairyland, where she played roles ranging from a monkey to a princess to Baba Yaga, the titular witch in a Russian folk tale.

“[Fairyland] is one of my fondest memories,” says Brinda, a recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She says she formed lasting friendships and learned about cultures different than her own South Indian one.

Brinda represents her family’s fourth generation of Indian professional dancers and artists. Her mother Swetha is a professional Bharatanatyam dancer, co-owner and teacher at Kalaikoil Dance and Arts of India in Dublin, California. For the last 13 years, Brinda has trained in Bharatanatyam, a classical dance of South India, a skill that will be featured in the Access Theater production.

The Hypokrit Theatre Company is staging the play. The company’s mission is to “challenge notions of universality in a multicultural world … through the collision of different worlds and aesthetics.”

“It’s fascinating seeing how the Indian world can fit into Shakespeare’s text,” says Brinda. “Class differences, money, status — it all ties in.” She’ll be called upon to express a wide range of emotions through her dancing.

At Fairyland, we fondly remember young Brinda dressed in her monkey costume and making mischief around the park. Her parents Sham and Swetha still visit us every holiday season to help create a beautiful Diwali display. They’re planning on journeying to New York to see Brinda’s show.

As for Brinda, she’s looking forward to being a working actor in New York, involved in good storytelling and great work.

I asked her what she’d say to an eight-year-old who is considering auditioning for Fairyland’s Children’s Theater Program. “Go for it!” she says. “Even if you don’t go on to do theater, it will be one of the best experiences of your life.”

I interviewed Brinda on the fourth anniversary of the day she auditioned for Tisch. As she explained the rigorous process that included dancing, acting, and singing, I thought about Fairyland’s more low-key auditions. Our program focuses on storytelling, reading, cultural understanding and building confidence — but mostly on fun. Our kids don’t all go on to become professional actors or the mayor of Oakland (such as Libby Schaaf), but they often return as adults to tell us how transformational the experience has been for them.

Auditions for Fairyland’s Children’s Theatre Program will take place January 24th and 25th for kids ages eight through ten. To register online for program, go to Fairyland.org. The deadline for registration is January 23rd.

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