There is more to Amrita Fredrick than Les Mis, the musical that rocked the city
Thank god I don’t have a day job!” is Amrita Fredrick’s usual refrain these days. Two weeks after The Ku Ku Company’s maiden production, Les Miserables, the theatre group’s founder is taking a well-deserved break. Chosen by Fredrick and her husband, Sudhir Jonathan, the musical took three-month long rehearsals, and Fredrick took on direction, choreography, costuming, a little bit of set design and a lot of logistics.
Fredrick, 26, started her theatre career in a little known musical group called the Young Stars, which also featured the likes of ‘Pop’ Shalini and Andrea Jeremiah. “Once I started college, I worked with Jeffery Vardon from the Hot Shoe dance company and Freddie Koikaran from Stagefright Productions,” says Fredrick, who is a physical trainer by qualification. We count out some of the biggest musicals Chennai has seen so far—Chicago, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, A Night At The Musical, Evam’s Python Hysteria—and Fredrick has been a part of almost all of them. She even got her peers at the Madras Musical Association, where she has been singing for the past nine years, to act for their musical, Over The Rainbow, in 2013. “That is what gave me the confidence that I could pull off Les Miserables in Chennai,” she says.
Her many faces
Fredrick was hands-on with every aspect of the play. She choreographed song sequences (except one, in which she roped in Cassius Leon) and brainstormed with certified architects, John Mathew and Kalpana Balaji, for set design. In fact, she also did all the ground work for the costumes herself—from sketching the outfits to buying material to visiting tailors. She spent a lot of time online, researching the look she wanted. But she admits that she couldn’t have pulled it all off without her cast. “Yohan Chacko, who plays the lead character of Jean Valjean, actually figured out stuff about 19th century tailoring and made a couple of his shirts himself. That’s how dedicated my actors were,” Fredrick says with pride.
The Ku Ku Company’s next production could be “The Phantom of the Opera for one. Or The Westside Story.’’ One thing is certain, her next production is definitely going to have some dancing in it. I want my actors to be a ‘triple threat’ —people who can act, sing and dance,” she says. Though Fredrick is still officially ‘recovering’, “I’m playing a character in Jeffrey Vardon’s adaptation of Chicago, out this November,” she adds. Dancing? “Hell yes. And singing and acting too. I cannot wait!” she signs off.