Larchmont resident Sunita Param’s life has been a journey — from her native Kuala Lumpur to the suburbs of Buffalo, New York, to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, to New York and now, for the past 16 years, to Los Angeles. She also sees her life as a musical theater journey—one she will be presenting in a show on Wednesday, May 4 at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s (see details below).
Accompanied by pianist Derek Purdy, Param will perform carefully chosen songs from musicals including Wicked, Waitress, Into the Woods and Dear Evan Hansen to weave her tale of a Broadway-bound dynamo, forced to confront a new reality.
For this singer, pianist and piano studio owner, life has always had a soundtrack.
What brought you out here, and to Larchmont Village specifically?
My husband and I are both actors and decided to try our hand out in LA, so we made the move in December 2005. We landed in Santa Monica, but after the death of our first baby and pregnant with our subsequent child, we needed to start fresh and moved to the Larchmont area. We’ve lived on Irving Boulevard for more than 12 years. We were drawn by the ease of the neighborhood and the walking culture that we so missed from our New York City days. I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else in LA. We absolutely adore this neighborhood, where we know and are friends with our neighbors. It has the feel of a small town in the middle of a big city.
This show includes some very personal stories. What was the process of selecting and developing those stories?
I had been wanting to do another 1 woman show since 2000, when I did my cabaret in New York called “The Little Brown Girl Finally Gets To Sing.” But life got in the way. So since 2018, I had been collecting ideas for the stories I wanted to tell. At that point, a lot of major life events had occurred for me, so choosing stories wasn’t that hard. I chose songs that spoke to me and that I loved to sing, but that also connect and help illuminate my stories. That required changing some of the lyrics. My husband, who is also my director on this project, is great with lyrics and was a terrific collaborator on that front. So in early 2020, I spent the weekend at my friends’ guest house in Pasadena and wrote the show top to bottom.
How did you choose the songs to include?
I’ve kept a list of songs over the last few years that I loved, that I thought might work in a show. And when I put the show together in early 2020, the woodshedding began of eliminating, adding to and/or adjusting lyrics.
Anything else you’d like to share about the show and your journey?
This show is a labor of love and one that has taken many years to come to fruition. It is autobiographical and at the end of the day is truly about the resiliency of the human spirit and the ability to survive. Having said that, there are a LOT of laughs. You may cry too, but I hope that at the end of the show, you will be inspired and filled with joy.
Sunita: Back to Me will be performed at 8:00pm on Wed., May 4 at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. In-person tickets are $25; doors open at 6:30pm. Livestream tickets are also available, for $20.
About Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Neo Ensemble Theatre in Hollywood.
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