The South Pasadena High School cast of the upcoming production of Metamorphoses had the rare privilege of meeting one of the actors who was in the original Broadway production of Mary Zimmerman’s critically acclaimed play. Anjali Bhimani has been a successful working actor for many years on Broadway as well as in television, film and voiceover. Drama department head, Nick Hoffa, explains that Bhimani was not only an “actor for hire” in the Broadway production but was someone integral to its creation from the beginning. In fact, Bhimani worked with author Mary Zimmerman as a theatre student at Northwestern University, then was cast in the first professional production in Chicago, continued there for the Off-Broadway run and then went on to the Broadway run (which won a Tony), and again for the revival in 2012. To say she is uniquely intimate with the play is an understatement.
Actress Kayla Nielsen tells us what an incredible boon it was to the cast to have Bhimani visit them due to her extensive experience with the show. “One of the characters she played, Myrrha, is my hardest part in this play because of the complicated nature of her story” Nielsen explains, “Myrrha goes on a horribly tragic, emotional journey in the scene, so it is quite challenging for me. Anjali had some great advice telling me that I needed to make myself completely vulnerable on stage and trust my own acting abilities so I don’t overact. She also told me and Tabitha (my scene partner), to trust the audience interpretation. So, we really have to trust that the audience will figure out and navigate the story for themselves.”
Actor Linus Woods tells us how much he appreciated Bhimani’s willingness to talk about her experiences with Metamorphoses and acting in general, saying, “it was very cool of her to take time out of her day to do that. I also loved that she had so much experience with so many different mediums of acting, from the stage to voice acting, it was clear she had a great grasp on what she was talking about and gave very insightful and good advice.”
We were also told that a key bit of information was given by Bhimani in the way of name pronunciations! Nielsen says “there are some really tricky names that we were just guessing on, but she accurately told us how to say all of our character names. Anjali was just such a kind presence that made us all feel a little more confident in our show.”
Echoes Hoffa, “she gave the students amazing context for the show – how it impacted a lot of people, how it impacted the artists. She also told lots of funny and practical stories about performing in water, calling it the 11th character. Everything changes once you get in water.
Director Nick Hoffa, Technical Director James Jontz and the cast and crew of Metamorphoses are in their final week of dress rehearsals. The show is being produced in the Little Theatre with 12 actors playing 60+ roles on a stage with a 6’ by 10’ pool of water. I, for one, can’t wait to see what these talented actors bring to this exciting piece.
Metamorphoses has mature themes and content. Parental discretion advised for 13 and under. Metamorphoses (directed by Nick Hoffa, technical direction by James Jontz) runs two weekends: Fri Nov 15th & Sat Nov 16th, 7pm, then Fri Nov 22nd, 7 pm and two shows Sat Nov 23rd, 2 pm and 7pm. The Little Theater, South Pasadena High School, 1401 Fremont Ave. South Pasadena. General Admission is $15. Tickets may be purchased online at sphsasb.org, in the SPHS student bank after noon, or in the SPHS Main Office.