For Sampad Kachuck, theater director for Mount Madonna School, 1982 was a year of beginnings with the marriage to his wife Iris and the start of his long standing career at MMS.
This year is equally special for Kachuck, as it is for everyone associated with MMS, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the annual school production, Ramayana!, and Kachuck’s 35th year of directing the production.
“Mounting a show that has been part of the fabric of MMS for four decades carries with it the importance of tradition as well as the benefits of familiarity,” Kachuck said.
Ramayana! Is a famous Indian tale representing the eternal struggle between good and evil.
“Prince Ram has to defeat the evil king Ramayana to achieve what needs to be achieved and for him to discover what he needs to discover,” Kachuck said, adding that, “It is also a great spectacle of musical theatre.”
With a wide range of music from Western to Indian, including a contemporary nod to the popular musical Hamilton, Ramayana! is a hit for all.
“Within the play you have all these exciting, magical, colorful characters. We have monsters and demons and monkeys. We have a rock music score including ballads, with a live band and a live adult choir that accompanies the kids as they sing.”
This annual event is a full inclusionary program with every student, K-12, taking part in the production. Approximately 190 students will be performing in each of this year’s four performances.
“At our school, we believe in the performing arts as a special part of the experience, it’s a piece of the puzzle,” Kachuck said.
“I think it’s a way to unite our community, and create a community and understand what it means to be part of a community.”
With all students involved in the annual production the amount of rehearsal time stretches into months.
“Over the course of four-plus months, we work and play hard, and through teamwork and trust, take the risks of engagement, experimentation and discovery,” Kachuck said.
The end result is always something special. Kachuck believes each student, as they change from year to year, brings their own interpretation to the production.
That was certainly the case for 12th grader Will Murphy of San Martin, when last year he took on one of the lead roles, Meghnad.
“I had been waiting since kindergarten to be a lead in this play. Now that the time came, I was ready,” Murphy said.
“I got more applause than anything I had ever done before, and from the full audience! That feeling is something I have only ever felt on stage. The feeling of so much work culminating in front of real people, and them enjoying it, is the best feeling in the world.”
Mary Supriya McDonald, the Head of MMS views the production as a central part of the school’s history.
“It’s the culmination of months of work during the academic year and is a year-end celebration for our community embracing diversity and creative self-expression,” Supriya McDonald said.
“With this show, we carry forward a tradition inspired by Baba Hari Dass and supported by the Mount Madonna Center. The Ramayana is a timeless classic teaching the universal values of truth, duty, love and service to the greater good.”
The performances run June 7-10, at the Mexican Heritage Theater in San Jose. All seats reserved. Purchase tickets for the June 8-10 performances at: ramayana.brownpapertickets.com. For the June 7 dress preview go to: ramayana-preview.brownpapertickets.com.