Once upon a Bak Bak Tree is a Children’s Day gift to kids from Karadi Tales. After a successful show in Chennai, it comes to town

“It has always been on the cards, but somehow we never got around to it. Our audio books lend themselves so perfectly to a stage production because they are packed with songs, stories and background effects,” says Shobha Viswanath, publishing director, Karadi Tales Company. She is speaking about the musical Once Upon a Bak-Bak Tree drawn from Karadi Tales. “We know of at least 300 schools across the country that use Karadi Tales titles as a tool for language pedagogy. Children were already familiar with our stories and rhymes. We had an audience to count on for a theatrical production. And the books come with a readymade soundtrack! With Karadi Rhymes, all we had to do was to weave a little narrative around them to create a theatrical musical.”

Evam, the theatre group that has put up the musical, picked out two titles they thought was perfect for theatre — The Lion and the Mouse and The Monkey and the Crocodile ! “From there, it was rather quick,” says Shobha. “We started in June and the production premiered in Chennai on Children’s Day this year.”

Bhargav Ramakrishnan of Evam directs the musical. “He was excited about it and the project was assigned to him. But I have always been tempted to direct our stories — one of these days I may just wear that cap too!” says Shobha. The musical has an experienced cast and crew. “The actors and the musicians have worked in several stage productions and films. For instance, Venkatesh Harinathan, who plays Venky, has acted in Tamil films, and Vikas, who plays the crocodile, works with Chennai-based mime group, Mactrics. One of our musicians, Drums Murali, runs a percussion school. The play incorporates the original Karadi Rhymes, set to music by 3 Brothers & A Violin.”

Usha Uthup, an old friend of Karadi Tales, lends her deep delicious voice, live, to this musical. “She is the voice of Karadi Rhymes. She has sung the original rhymes, and now, she is the anchor for Karadi Rhymes — Once Upon A Bak-Bak Tree . The children absolutely loved her during the premiere show and we can’t wait for the kids in Coimbatore to interact with her on Sunday.”

Shobha hopes Karadi Tales on stage will become an annual feature. “The Chennai show ran to a full house and we hope to receive a similar response from Coimbatore and the other six cities we are travelling to — Madurai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune.

PANKAJA SRINIVASAN

Children were already familiar with our stories and rhymes. We had an audience to count on

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