She's about to go on a journey! Uma Paranjpe is playing the title role of Pi Patel in Life of Pi on Broadway for its May 9 performance. Paranjpe takes over for the show's lead Hiran Abeysekera and the alternate Pi, Adi Dixit. This announcement is unusual because it will be the first time the role of Pi (normally played by a male actor), will be played by a female actor on Broadway.
The character is male in the book Life of Pi, which the show is based on, but the stage version has cast actors of both genders in the role. Paranjpe, who is usually in the show's ensemble, was also the Pi understudy at the show's pre-Broadway run at American Repertory Theater.
The play is written by Lolita Chakrabarti and is based on Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, winner of the Man Booker Prize. In Life of Pi, a cargo ship has sunk in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, leaving behind five survivors in a lifeboat. Sixteen-year-old Pi is one of them, joined in this tense quest for survival by a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.
The work's West End production took home five 2022 Olivier Awards, including Best Play and Best Supporting Actor, with the latter awarded collectively to the team of puppeteers who play the tiger. The play made its North American premiere ahead of their Broadway bow at American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.
Hiran Abeysekera reprises his Olivier Award-winning performance in the title role, alongside Olivier award-winning puppeteers Fred Davis and Scarlet Wilderink, who are also returning to their West End roles puppeteering the tiger, Richard Parker.
They are joined by Brian Thomas Abraham as Cook/Voice of “Richard Parker,” Rajesh Bose as Father, Avery Glymph as Father Martin/Russian Sailor/Rear Admiral Jackson, Mahira Kakkar as Nurse/Amma/Orange Juice, Kirstin Louie as Lulu Chen, Salma Qarnain as Mrs. Biology Kumar/Zaida Khan, Sathya Sridharan as Mamaji/Pandit-Ji, Daisuke Tsuji as Mr. Okamoto/Captain, and Sonya Venugopal as Rani, along with Davis, Wilderink, Nikki Calonge, Rowan Ian Seamus Magee, Jonathan David Martin, Betsy Rosen, Celia Mei Rubin, and Andrew Wilson as Royal Bengal tiger “Richard Parker.”
Director Max Webster (Henry V) leads with production, with a creative team that consists of Tony- and Olivier-winning set and costume designer Tim Hatley, puppet and movement director Finn Caldwell(Angels in America), Olivier-winning puppet designers Nick Barnes (Angels in America) and Caldwell, Olivier-winning video designer Andrzej Goulding (Eureka Day), Olivier-winning lighting designer Tim Lutkin(Back to the Future), and sound designer Carolyn Downing (Les Liaisons Dangereuses). Original music is by Andrew T Mackay (Henry V), and dramaturgy is by Jack Bradley.
The Broadway run is produced by Simon Friend, Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig, Mark Gordon, Playing Field, Tulchin/Bartner Productions, Gavin Kalin, Hunter Arnold, Hall Smalberg Winkler, 42nd.club, Elizabeth Armstrong, Eilene Davidson, Federman Jenen Productions, Susan Gallin, Independent Presenters Network, John Gore Organization, Kuhn Dodani, Harriet Leve, Mary Lu Roffe, Catherine Schreiber, Anthony Tang, Triple Threat Productions, American Repertory Theatre, and Sheffield Theatres. Aaron Lustbader and Hanna Osmolska serve as executive producers.