Taj Express Director talks with Alberta Ballet on its Canadian debut

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We recently caught up with Shruti Merchant, the Director of Taj Express – A Bollywood Musical, before they make their Canadian debut right here in Alberta in just a few short weeks. Here’s what she had to say about the upcoming production and introducing Canadian audiences to Taj Express.

Tickets available here.

Have you ever been to Canada before?

Yes, I have been to Canada for a couple of film shoots. I have had fabulous experiences working in scenic and beautiful locations in Canada and wish to plan a family trip soon.

How excited are you to share your production with the Alberta/Canadian audiences for the first time.

When Taj Express finally sets foot in Canada, I look forward to have the show entertain the audience with its scintillating dance sequences, blockbuster music and jaw-dropping acting. Don’t forget your dancing shoes!

The feedback on the production has been outstanding worldwide. Have you made any changes to the show since it was first created in 2017?

Since our US premiere in 2017, with the previous version of Taj Express completing over 200 shows, we wanted to bring in new elements to the show and have incorporated the latest Bollywood hit songs and modern yet contemporary choreography into the show.

What were the reactions from the cast when you told them you were touring to Canada?

The cast were really excited and elated on hearing Taj Express is touring in Canada. The unanimous question from the cast was, “When can we get started?”

What do you hope the audience reaction will be?

Taj Express has an interactive story line which makes this production one of a kind. Catering to all that come to see it, the show will tug at your hear strings and make you want to get up and dance as well as sing along to all the songs that the cast perform. Even someone who hasn’t watched a Bollywood film is guaranteed to have a great evening’s entertainment from the word ‘go’.

What is your process in creating a production?

I truly enjoy the creative process of staging musicals. The main aim while conceptualizing a production is to be original, at the same time to be different and be the best. The challenge to create a show with fresh new content which speaks a universal language and which is enjoyed by audiences world wide if something which I love to take up every time I create a new production be it a musical or specially curated event.

How do you want to bring Bollywood to different audiences?

Bollywood is a rambunctious mix of song, dance, action and story that come together in the best tradition of magical realism. Taj Express captures all of this and more in an unforgettable two-hour spectacle that is guaranteed to win over the hearts and minds of the audience and make everyone love, dance and sing.

Where do you find inspiration for your productions?

The audience reaction I get during the shows is my inspiration. The constant need to reach audiences and entertainment is what drives me. The opportunity to work with really talented and a great bunch of mad creative geniuses is another facet that inspires me.

How does having live music on stage change your performances?

Indian music is a term that very few people can truly define. Because of the sheer richness of the genres that exist within it. I think Bollywood has managed to draw from various strains of Indian music be it Hindustani or Thumri or Rajasthani folk traditions. With the three unbelievably talented musicians performing live on stage `it gives the show a whole new dimension and have the audience transported through their music.

Kim Jackson