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Culture Shock.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Rhinebeck Writers Retreat presents reading of BHANGIN’ IT by Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, and Sam Willmott

Rhinebeck Writers Retreat is presenting the first reading of the new musical, BHANGIN’ IT, book by Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew and music and lyrics by Sam Willmott, on May 1 in New York City for an invited industry audience. The reading includes actors Shoba Narayan (Natasha Pierre & The Great Comet), Tony Sheldon (Amelie), Dan Rosales (Spamilton), Angel Desai (Company), and Salena Qureshi. The reading is directed by David Ruttura (School of Rock) and music directed by James Dobinson (The View UpStairs).

BHANGIN’ IT was selected for Rhinebeck Writers Retreat’s Triple R program, which gives musical theatre writers 2 readings and a residency to do extensive development in a compressed time frame, culminating in the May 1 staged reading. The program is fully funded by Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and made possible through a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and lead support from Cathy Cabrera and Rick Ungar, and Steve Reynolds.

Created in 2011 by Founding Executive Director Kathy Evans, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat provides a sanctuary for musical theatre writers to develop their musicals in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Past Rhinebeck Writers include Kirsten Childs, Michael Friedman, Adam Gwon, Joe Iconis, Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, Duncan Sheik, Kyle Jarrow, Nathan Tysen, David Hein and Irene Sankoff, Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Musicals developed in Rhinebeck have been seen at The Public Theater, Barrington Stage, Second Stage Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals, and The Eugene O’Neill National Music Theater Conference. All costs are covered by contributions, including The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, The Frederick Loewe Foundation, The Dramatists Guild Fund, and The Noël Coward Foundation. We thank our major individual supporters: Liz Armstrong; Hal Aronow-Thiel and Pat Henry; Rick Farrar and Jeff Zadroga, Amy Faxon, Peter Risafi and Steven Wheeler, and Alec Stais and Elissa Burke.

BHANGIN’ IT synopsis:

Inspired by the high-stakes world of intercollegiate bhangra (Indian folk dance) competitions, BHANGIN’ IT follows a biracial girl named Mary who gets kicked off her bhangra team, the unstoppable Michigan State Bengal Tigers. Haunted by an accusation of not being "Indian enough," Mary grabs her best friend and cheerleading drop-out Sunita, and together they form a rag-tag multicultural bhangra team of their own. Mary also finds an unlikely mentor in Rekha, a former Bollywood starlet who now runs a restaurant slash cabaret act in East Lansing. As the team prepares for Nationals, they swap restaurant labor for dance lessons and brace for a collision course with Mary's former team. Along the way, BHANGIN' IT wrestles with love, betrayal, and the cultural traditions we inherit versus those we create.

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