SJAH scene by scene.

Better late than never.  The scene by scene photos from SJAH, the story of the troubled king of Persia who killed 1000 of his wives before meeting his match, Scheherazade.

I still haven’t been brave enough to watch the video (I’m using the excuse that I’m too busy with a new production… but really, I’m a coward).  I hope to grow a pair in the next week or so.

In the meantime, here’s SJAH, scene by scene. Photos are by the most amazing Milan Tettero.  See more of Milan’s SJAH pics here.

The show starts with a quiet Arabic lullaby which I sing in complete darkness from behind the audience, accompanied by the saz player, Gulabi Demirel.  After the song, the lights come up and we all wander on stage in our “regular clothes” and get dressed in our costumes (by Leslie Eisinger).  We are storytellers, not characters – YET.  Here I am putting on my Scheherazade bling:

sjah_sche set up

Then, to Ruben van Rompaey’s adaptation of Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, the four dancers come to life.  Here, from left to right, are Ermo Dako as the Genie, Djurre Brouwer as the Magician, Christopher Renfurm as the Sjah, and Michael Sastrowitomo as Aladdin:

sjah_the boys!

Then the SJAH breaks up the fun and has his powerful solo.  Here you can also see the band: Ruben with the bendir, Gulabi with the saz, Andy Kooren on the left with the darbuka, and Hayati Akin on the right with the oud:

sjah_sjah & band

Here Scheherazade makes her presence known by singing a Turkish love song which gets the attention of the SJAH:

sjah_sche & band

Then the characters begin to come to life.  Aladdin:


The rest sit in the “Shisha bar” and cheer Aladdin on:

sjah_aladdin's support

Then the Genie appears, trapped in his lamp (a blue spotlight – brilliant idea by Zaddik Francis, choreographer!):


Nice Genie. :)


Scheherazade and the Sjah have another moment with another Turkish love song:

sjah_sche & sjah reach

Only to be interrupted by the Sjah’s advisor, the evil Magician (like Jafar from the Disney version… but not).  Their duet shows the Magician’s influence on the Sjah:

sjah_sjah & magic

Back to the fun, Aladdin and the Genie both get stuck in the lamp:

sjah_genie & aladdin_bottle

But they manage to break free – much to the Genie’s delight – and become friends:

sjah_genie & aladdin_play

However, the Magician is watching and wants the Genie’s power for himself:


The Genie and Magician fight under Scheherazade’s watchful eye:

sjah_genie & magic_1

It’s an epic battle of strength and magic.  In the end, the Genie wins and drags the defeated Magician away:

sjah_genie & demon_2

But all the while, the Sjah is troubled:


Scheherazade calls to him, singing the lullaby we heard before:

sjah_sche& sjah_distance

He goes to her and accepts her love:

sjah_sche & sjah

But first he must deal with his demons.  He gets his secret box filled with the scarves of his past 1000 wives.  He tries to grab them, to hold them all, but his efforts are futile.  He eventually leaves the stage with scarves falling from his hands like sand:


The final scene is of a literal demon, Dahish the Afrit, “with black wings, three red eyes and found weeping, trapped in a pillar of stone…”, he is one of the many surreal characters from the Arabian Nights stories.  In this scene, Djurre is the demon and improvises to the plaintive singing of classical Turkish singer, Hayati Akin:


Aaaand, we’re done!:

sjah_the group

On the last night, I took my chance to relax with a bottle of Talisker:


And an awesome after party!:


Thanks again to all involved.  I can’t believe how great everyone was.  And I can’t believe how much I learned in the process.  I learned that people never cease to amaze me.  I learned that I’m stronger than I think I am.  And I learned that prescription sleep medication is fabulous stuff.

See you at my intervention!

Best Biographies of 2010 – part two

Another storm on the way