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Catching up with Kalyani Nagarajan

Catching up with Kalyani Nagarajan

Mrs Krishnan’s actress on the show’s whirlwind North American tour.

Mrs Krishnan’s Party hit Pittsburgh, Vancouver and New York in a 14-week tour, from December last year. What was the tour like?
Yeah nah, it was amazing. Especially considering that travelling to perform a show is a rare opportunity for Kiwis. My co-star Justin Rogers (DJ Jimmy James, party-thrower and Mrs Krishnan’s slightly troublesome boarder), was excited for his first trip on a “big plane”.

Kayani Nagarajan (Mrs Krishnan) all the way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the show performed in the International Festival of Firsts

The premise of the show is that the audiences are the partygoers. How did the international crowd respond to their ‘role’?
They took so much ownership, it was crazy. In Vancouver, especially, the audience took more ownership of the show than I’d ever experienced before. Whenever the aunties got on stage, they’d start messing with the element. They were like “we’ll put it on four”, and I’m like aunty, there’s a science to this. Stop turning it down!

There were also these really loving moments. 

One audience member, a widower, opened up about his wife having passed away — this is in front of 150 people. So we took really good care of him and he came up [on stage] and said, “I’ve never felt so empowered and proud to be who I am and just to really respect my late wife.” 

You know, there are moments in the show, you’ve obviously got your gags, but when the audience gives you something like that and are so open… It’s really beautiful.

Or, people in their mid-twenties would come and then they’d bring their parents. That’s what you want — you want to think about your parents when you come to this show, or you want your mum and dad to think about you when they come to this show. It’s all about that connection.

It just felt like every show was so full. Each moment to moment was just so loving.

The audience turned partygoers turned… Chefs? Loving moments abound when people come together.

Like with all parties, something or the other doesn’t go according to plan —  a can opener breaks while opening a tin of tomatoes, a phone rings in an awkward moment, or you forget to turn the stove top on. What’s it like having to improvise?

The best thing about this show is that anything can go wrong. Watching the mayhem unfold is a part of the show’s charm. It’s endearing watching these actors because we’re still in character. But, like, imagine your teeth falling out in front of a hundred people — it happened to me in Pittsburgh. For the most part, though, Justin and I are accustomed to running with the show — to the point where we mess around with each other’s characters on stage.

What did happen when your teeth fell out?
I corpsed it.*

*Corpse [ kawrps]
Verb, corpse, corpsed, corpsing
To ruin a piece of acting by laughing uncontrollably.

Cooking on stage has its challenges and comes with a fair chance of disaster but one thing is always certain — no two nights taste the same.

Come along to experience a ‘loving moment’ yourself — Mrs Krishnan’s Party will be returning to Q Theatre before taking the party to Baycourt Theatre in August, for a new round of feeding bellies and souls. Book your place at the party.

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