The Music in my Blood

By Andrew Andrews

In the 1930’s, Jewish composer Walter Kaufmann fled Bohemia for India to escape the tyranny of the Nazis. More than half a century later, a young woman named Prema fled India for Brooklyn to escape the tyranny of her mother. In The Music in my Blood, these two refugees converse across time and space. But what could they possibly have to talk about?

If you guessed “India,” well, you’re not exactly right. You see, Walter (Michael Gentile) fled Bohemia because it wasn’t safe to stay; Prema (Monica Sharma) fled India because it was too safe to stay. Whereas Walter’s life in Europe was stolen from him virtually overnight, Prema’s life was all too certain: a third generation singer destined by her impoverished mother (Richa Rudola) to keep the music of her culture alive and pure. Meanwhile, her estranged father (Sumend Wankhade) achieved international stardom by dumbing down the music for contemporary tastes, and Prema just can’t see the point of her mother’s unprofitable devotion to her craft.

So what do Walter and Prema have to talk about? Well, Walter is more than just a composer who fled to India: he’s a musicologist noted for his study of Indian music, so in that regard he has much more in common with Prema’s mother than with Prema herself. And in speaking to him, Prema works through her relationship with her mother, through the difficulty of transitioning from prodigy to prodigal.

What makes this production special is the heart and soul that’s obviously gone into it: with a glossary of fifty terms that you’ll receive upon entry, writers Sonalee Hardikar and Shubhra Prakash pit not only mother against daughter but tradition against evolution and wanderlust against appreciating what you have. With spoken excerpts and commentary on the songs (performed live by Amod Dandawate, Rucha Muley Jambhekar and Manoj Govindraj), The Music in my Blood asks “what can we do to preserve the ephemeral” while promising that “all reveals itself at the correct time.” So check out this production from Hypokrit Theater Company before it closes next weekend, then come back here and let us know how it made you feel. Whether you most appreciate the predominantly South Asian cast (rounded out by Ashok Chaudhary, Meera Narasimhan and Miriam Eusebio) or the universal story that spans decades and continents, your reviews help others decide if they should attend, and your ratings help us help you find future performances you’ll love!


Andrew Andrews attended The Music in my Blood at American Theatre of Actors in Manhattan on Thursday, June 7, 2018 @ 8:00pm to write this review.