Rifco and Watford Palace Theatre are delighted to announce the star cast for their upcoming production Happy Birthday Sunita - a family comedy drama written by Harvey Virdi and created by Pravesh Kumar and Harvey Virdi.
Regarded as one of India’s finest actresses, Shabana Azmi will head the cast and play Tejpal, the matriarch of the Johal house. Shabana’s illustrious career spans four decades, she is a multi-award winning actress including five National Film Awards for Best Actress and has starred in over a hundred films, including Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children. Shabana is embarking on her first UK theatre tour for Rifco and Watford Palace Theatre.
As Tejpal’s son Nav, Ameet Chana once again takes to the stage for a Rifco production. Ameet has numerous stage, TV and film credits to his name including Adi Ferreira in Eastenders (BBC), Bend It Like Beckham, Run Fat Boy Run, East is East (Watermans), The Djinns of Eidgah (Royal Court Theatre) and Rifco’s Bollywood Yet Another Lovestory and Bollywood 2000. He appeared on the Watford Palace stage in Rifco Arts: A Celebration in 2011.
Playing the part of Nav’s high maintenance wife Harleen, is Goldy Notay. Rifco fans will remember Goldy from There’s Something About Simmy and The Deranged Marriage. Her TV credits include The Town (ITV) and Warehouse 13 (SyFy), stage work includes My Daughter’s Trial (Kali Theatre), Tagore’s Women (Southwark Playhouse) and Zameen (Arts Theatre). Goldy also played Shabana’s daughter in Gurinder Chadha’s It’s A Wonderful Afterlife.
Newcomer Clara Indrani takes on the role of reclusive birthday girl Sunita. Clara trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where she performed in a number of productions. TV credits include Hollyoaks (Channel 4) and Gates (Sky Living).
Completing the cast is Russell Floyd as Maurice, the builder who has been renovating the Johal kitchen. Recent stage credits include Hangman (Tristan Bates), The Wing (The Arcola), Clockwork (HighTide Festival). Russell is also a familiar face on TV, having been a regular on The Bill (ITV) and Eastenders (BBC).
Speaking about the casting, Rifco’s Artistic Director, Pravesh Kumar said:
“It’s not often you get the chance to work with one of your idols. Shabana Azmi is a world-class actress with a unique and rare talent. I am also excited to be working with some of the UK’s leading actors and actresses, Ameet Chana, Russell Floyd, and Goldy Notay. As part of our continued passion to support emerging talent, we have newcomer Clara Indrani alongside a seasoned cast.”
Directed by Pravesh, who has developed the show with actress and writer Harvey Virdi, Happy Birthday Sunita is set on the day of Sunita’s fortieth birthday. The Johals have come together to celebrate, Mum’s been working hard to make everything perfect, Nav and Harleen arrive bickering and Sunita is nowhere to be seen. As the curries simmer and rotis are smothered in full-fat butter, years of family drama bubbling under the surface start to boil over!
Happy Birthday Sunita is designed by Colin Falconer, with lighting by Mark Dymock and sound design by Nick Manning.
From the producers of Britain’s Got Bhangra, MummyJi Presents and Break The Floorboards, Happy Birthday Sunita opens at Watford Palace Theatre on 19th September then tours to Wolverhampton, Leeds, Oldham, Brentford, Colchester, Gravesend, Dubai and Mumbai.
Happy Birthday Sunita Tour:
Watford Palace Theatre 19 – 21 September
Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton 23 – 27 September
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds 1 – 4 October
Oldham Coliseum Theatre 7 – 11 October
Watermans, Brentford 14 – 18 October
Mercury Theatre, Colchester 21 October
The Woodville, Gravesend 24 – 25 October
DUCTAC, Dubai 26 – 29 October
NCPA, Mumbai 2 – 3 December
In association with Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton.