With his ethnically ambiguous looks and his nearly three-octave range Sorab Wadia has sung music from the 11th century to pop and rock via oratorio and opera and taken on an array of characters from – in alphabetical order – Algeria, Afghanistan, Brunei, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. He relishes resisting the clutches of typecasting.
Most recently he played CL Chawla in the world premier of Mira Nair’s new musical, Monsoon Wedding at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and reprised his role of Shylock #1/Gratiano in Karin Coonrod’s critically acclaimed production of The Merchant Of Venice at Peak Performances in Montclair, New Jersey.
The 2014-2016 seasons brought two wonderful collaborations with Karin Coonrod, her production of The Merchant of Venice in Venice, Italy, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Ghetto, and The Tempest at LaMama, an appearance on Madame Secretary, a guest spot on Blacklist: Redemption, and a leading role in the film The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim.
Nothing thrills Sorab more than collaborating with writers and composers to create new roles in fresh-off-the-press plays and musicals. He’s been lucky to have birthed some deliciously colorful characters: The Sultan of Nubai, the world’s richest man, in Niko Tsakalakos and Janet Allard’s Pool Boy, at Barrington Stage; Hussein al-Mansour, the beleaguered middle-management terrorist in Benjamin Scheuer and Zoe Samuels’ Jihad! The Musical on London’s West End; and Raj Dhawan, the grandiose, if sadly over-the-hill, Bollywood hero in Ayub Khan Din and Paul Bogaev’s Bunty Berman Presents… off-Broadway with The New Group.
Some of the new plays he has premiered recently include: The American premiere of the English translation of Évelyne de la Chenelière’s Bashir Lazhar, a haunting story of an Algerian immigrant to Quebec, at Barrington Stage; Stephanie Liss’s Faces of War with BIMA, NY; Fear Up: Stories from Bagdad and Guantanamo at the NY Fringe; Big Shoot by Koffi Kwahulé at The Lark, and Anuvab Pal’s Chaos Theory with Pulse Ensemble Theater off-Broadway.
Sorab performs a one-man play of Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner, which has been touring the U.S. for the past seven seasons, with international hops to Canada and India. The novel was adapted by Wynn Handman, a veritable guru of New York theater, for his company, American Place Theater.
He is relieved to announce that he has popped his Law & Order cherry on SVU and done the requisite guest spots on 30 Rock and Chappelle’s Show. He dreams of being the lead on a sitcom – something he believes he was put on earth to do – so, feel free to make him offers!
Born in Bombay, India, to a pair of highly talented and artistic people, Sorab has never known life without music, drama, and art. His mother, Coomi, a graphic artist and conductor of the globetrotting Paranjoti Chorus, was prepping and conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony up until nine days before he was born. His father, Nariman, was a maverick: jewelry designer, electronics engineer, composer…did pretty much whatever he set his mind to.
Sorab went to the United States to study piano at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, got his Masters there. After the briefest of careers as a classical pianist he began to pursue opera and theater at the University of Tennessee, where he got a second Masters. Two degrees not satisfying him, he went on to study the Meisner technique with master-teacher Maggie Flanigan at her studio in NYC; two years of intense study with Ms. Flanigan have profoundly changed his approach to acting. He is now based back home in Bombay, but will jump on a plane for a gig at the drop of a hat. In show business, home is where the laptop is.
Infected with an unquenchable case of wanderlust, he travels whenever he can – 62 countries and counting – and prefers couchsurfing and hostels to hotels when he’s on holiday. Besides English, he speaks – in order of proficiency – Italian, Gujarati, Hindi, German, French, with smatterings of Marathi, Spanish and Urdu. Other hobbies include: photography, painting, hiking, gardening, knitting, and dreaming about having a dog and a small farm.