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Imagination Stage puts Bollywood twist on Twain's tale of switched roles

Alex Paling, who plays The Pauper (left), and Anjna Swaminathan, who plays The Princess, are amazed at their resemblance to each other. COURTESY PHOTO BY LAURA DICURCIOAlex Paling, who plays The Pauper (left), and Anjna Swaminathan, who plays The Princess, are amazed at their resemblance to each other. COURTESY PHOTO BY LAURA DICURCIO  What’s next at Imagination Stage? “The Princess and the Pauper.”

Wait a minute, you say. Don’t you mean “The Prince and the Pauper,” Mark Twain’s beloved novel about two boys, a royal and a commoner, who look so much alike they exchange identities – and learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side?

Nope. Imagination Stage’s “free adaptation” of Twain, in the words of artistic director Janet Stanford, features two female heroines.

“It has a feminist twist,” Stanford said.

What’s more, the subtitle of the play is “A Bollywood Story.”

The original story took place in Tudor-era England; in this adaptation, writer Anu Yadav sets the action in a fictional kingdom in 11th-12th century India.

“As such,” said Stanford, who is directing the production, “it contains magic and the interplay of divine forces at work” – something absent from the original novel, which has more swordplay.

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“School of Rock” gets local run while on Broadway

schoolofrockcast copy photoWill Valdes, lead in ‘School of Rock,’ surrounded by his students.   COURTESY PHOTO  Sometimes you get an offer you can't refuse.

When the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation approved The Highwood Theatre's request to license "The School of Rock," even though it is still playing on the Great White Way, moving forward was a no-brainer.

"It was a unique opportunity to do a Broadway show," said Kevin Kearney, the theater's executive director who is co-directing the show with Dylan Kaufman. "We're part of a select group of youth theaters and schools who received the licensing."

But aside from the opportunity, "School of Rock" is also "the perfect show for Highwood," said Kearney, who saw the musical four times on Broadway and "loved" it.

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