The American dream, at least the musical version of it, is alive and well. Anyone who needs proof of this can simply ask Indian born guitarist and composer Nipun Nair. He left behind an extremely successful career in his homeland with the band Public Issue.
The group was featured on India’s VH1 and MTV. Public Issue performed headlining tours, playing many festivals, and winning multiple awards (Nipun has won 20 awards for best guitarist in national level competitions). The loss of the band’s bass player in a tragic accident placed Public Issue on hiatus and, after some time away, Nair set his sights on furthering his career in America. In a narrative that seems too optimistic to be true, Nipun landed in LA and went straight to a T Mobile store to obtain cell service. The salesperson who sold him his cell plan was in a band called Destino with (at that time) an undiscovered singer named Anthony Cruz. The two exchanged information and within three days Edgar (the musician/ T-Mobile salesperson) called Nipun to play guitar in the band. Within Nair’s first week of living in the U.S. he was now booked at legendary clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go, the House of Blues, and many others on the iconic Sunset Strip. It wasn’t long before Anthony Cruz was discovered by Randy Phillips and Deborah Corday (music industry legends famous for work with Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Toni Braxton, and more). Nair began his role as the guitarist on Cruz’s songs with songwriter/producer Rafael Esparza Ruiz (known for his work with Santana, Ricky Martin, Chayanne, and many other world famous Latin artists).
The Grammy nominated and ASCAP Award winning Rafael saw Nipun with Cruz onstage at a live performance and confirms that he was instantly aware that Nair was a major asset to the music. Esparza also used Nair to play guitar on a host of other Latin songs he was producing. One of these songs, “Inesperado” has already been selected by EMI music for future release by world-famous artist Anahi. Rafael states, “As an internationally renowned musician, Nipun was undoubtedly leading and crucial to the recording of the songs and to my studio.” He continues confirming, “It became immediately apparent to me upon working with Nipun that he was not simply a session musician, but an artist in his own right. I was amazed at the skill and mastery he has with the guitar. Needless to say, I was overjoyed with his work and would collaborate with him again in a second.”
Not only delegated to the world of rock and pop music, Nipun composed music for The Little Theater in Nungambakkam, India. This brainchild of Aysha Rau provides a creative and educational outlet for children to explore the arts in a way not provided by the school system. The Little Theater has quietly been helping underprivileged children since 1991. Its original musical production of “The R.E.D. Bean Can” was one of only 6 productions selected from among 60 all over the world to play at the 22nd International Theater Festival for the youth at Hamaden, Iran. The Little Theater was recognized for its achievements and selected as #10 Best Theater in India by Broadway World. The productions, featuring Nair’s compositions, have played to sold out crowds across Europe and Asia. Nipun revels in the challenge and experience relating, “Working with the Little Theater has been nothing short of an adventure; always pushing the limits of our creativity. We push our productions each year to go one step further, often resulting in incredibly tight deadlines. It is an extremely creative and inspiring project for a musician to be a part of. I scored the most recent production of nine tracks within a week and a half. It turns out that some of your best work comes out when you are under pressure. I’m extremely proud of two productions I have done for The Little Theater. ‘Atita…The Curse of Xenu’ (a post apocalyptic sci-fi Broadway style musical for which I composed the music, trained the vocalists and musicians, and actively involved in brainstorming the plots of the script) and The R.E.D. Bean Can. Both received international attention.”
Continuing his work in live theater here in the U.S., Nair became the in house composer for the Theater of Will, a non-profit arts education company based in southern California. Willard Simms is the president and artistic director. Simms has achieved major notoriety for his work in Biographical drama (winning the 2014 New York Theater Solo Fest award for Best Biography “Einstein: A Stage Portrait, which has also been aired on televisions in the U.S. for three years). Theater of Will is dedicated to biographical theater and school education programs. They stage dramatic presentations that extend the knowledge of great and influential historical figures on the public stage. Sponsored by LADWP, the musicals focus on the importance of water conservation in both an entertaining and educational format. Simms confirms, “Our shows could never have attained the degree of success that they have without the leading contributions of Nipun Nair.” The theater performs annually at the Grand Park in downtown LA every year (among other performances) and performs in front of thousands during the summer concerts and plays at Warner Park.
Dreaming is a Private Thing, a film produced by Alan Sardana, taps into the increasingly popular concept of Artificial Intelligence. The film was featured at the Toronto Youth Festival and won the award for Best Production Design at the Ryerson University Film Festival in Canada. The question of “where does machine end and humanity begin” is approached in an original way in this tale (based on a short story by Isaac Asimov) of an android named Sam the sampler. Set in the distant future, Sam’s creator is the last filmmaker on Earth and Sam is essentially a camera in human like form. The cast includes Leo Lee (Swordfish, Contact, The Replacement Killers), Susie Park (Spider-Man 2, The Chaos Factor), and Dan Mousseau as Sam. The emotional theme of the film is one of birth, awareness, and even love. To enrich these themes and bring them to the surface, the filmmakers asked Nipun to create a score. What he composed is a dreamy and soothing soundscape that draws upon elements of blues and classical music. Dreaming’s director AJ Smith approached the composer after hearing some of his music online. Nipun recalls, “He [Smith] asked me if I’d like to score the film. I said ‘Absolutely!’ We were short on time, preparing for the festivals. They would send me scene after scene and I kept churning out music…we finished scoring the entire film within three days. It was crazy! I’m glad they were so happy with my work, especially considering the time frame we had to work with.” Director AJ Smith praises Nair commenting, “Upon the first listen, I was instantly impressed with the music Nipun created for the film. He seamlessly merged ambient electronic sounds with a more commercially minded orchestral score to tremendous success and effectiveness. It was a major achievement to have a score like this in our film.”
As with many other modern composers and artists, Nipun has found an outlet for his talents in a somewhat more practical outlet avenue. Still exercising his creative abilities, Nair has been lead composer and musician for Rubecon Creative Solutions. Rubecon is a large, award-winning advertising agency in India known for national and international clients such as; Citiband, Ibaco, Arun Ice Cream, Prince Jewelry, and others. Nipun views working with Rubecon as a great opportunity noting, “Rubecon is a creative agency that is always looking to make their commercials as creative and big as possible. Working closely with their CEO and creative head Alexander Zach has been nothing short of inspiring. Working with Rubecon has helped me push the boundaries of my composition and to further my skills with each project.” Rubecon Creative Solutions has been recognized with awards like the Gold award at the Campaign for Dignity and the prestigious Silver Medal for the Times of India at the 2015 Goafest, proving that Nair’s talents have been a major contribution to the company’s impact. Nipur may soon be using his skills in the same arena here in the U.S. via a deal memo with Terremoto Productions. Terremoto is an audio production company founded by award-winning music composer Luis Guerra. His compositions have been featured in commercials for Honda, Samsung, and Mentos, as well as the Netflix documentary Art of Conflict and the Tina Fey feature film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Among other projects, Nipun would take part as a composer and musician for Disney Junior Channel’s Doc McStuffins. No doubt his time with The Little Theater will greatly aid in his ability to communicate with younger generations. With so many possible paths for Nipun’s career to steer towards, it will be interesting to witness how he navigates them all.
Some people were just born to perform and actress Sarah Jurgens happens to be one of those unique individuals. Although she was originally born in England, Jurgens spent time in South Africa with her family as a child before migrating to Canada shortly after. Spending time in several different countries in her youth endowed Jurgens with an enriched worldview, but those experiences also prompted her fascination with dialects.
She says, "Because I grew up with the good fortune of traveling to different areas of the world where my extended family resides, I developed a keen ear for accents. I really enjoy dialect work, it often opens up an entirely new inner-landscape for me to draw on as an actor, and it brings an edge to the character that I otherwise may not have found."
Jurgens' ability to tap in and become a wide range of characters with starkly different backgrounds is something that not only sets her apart from most other actresses, but it has also proven to be an integral counterpart in her success.
In Michael DeCarlo's (Lost Girl, The Border, Queer as Folk) 2012 film Two Hands to Mouth, which was produced by
Black Walk Productions, Jurgens took on the role of Anya, a Russian bombshell seductress and the wife of Frank, a business man involved in nefarious ventures who is played by Joe Pingue (Drive, The Book of Eli, Pompeii).
Chosen as an Official Selection of the 2013 Madrid International Film Festival where it was nominated for a Best Actor Award and a Best Editor Award, Two Hands to Mouth revolves around eight blindfolded guests who all meet at a secret pup-up restaurant for a dinner prepared by chef Michael Bradori played by Richard Zeppieri from 24 Hour Rental, Suits and The Bridge.
About playing Anya, Jurgens explains, "Working with a Russian dialect opened up a very specific emotional range for me. It was incredibly fun to play a woman so secure in her sexuality and power."
Jurgens also starred alongside Rachel Skarsten (Fifty Shades of Grey, The Vow, Birds of Prey, Flashpoint), Conrad Coates (Defiance, Saw II, This Means War, The Strain) and Gemini Award winner Ernie Greenwald (Men in Black II, Two and a Half Men, Cellular) in the film.
For Jurgens acting is more than just a career. She admits, "I chose acting as my passion and profession for selfish reasons really. It was the art form that I found most challenging and demanding in terms of self-exploration. As I grow as an individual, I also grow as an artist. It is an ever-evolving process and it’s one that keeps me asking questions, and keeps me engaged with life."
While she has reached an astonishing level of success on screen with leading roles in TV shows including Covert Affairs, Lost Girl, Republic of Doyle and Beauty and the Beast, as well as the films Swearnet: The Movie and The Man in the Shadows, Jurgens has also carved out a place for herself in the international theatre industry.
To date the actress has starred in an impressive list of high-profile theatrical productions including "The Bewitched," "The Clown Show," "The Penelopiad" and "Reasons to be Pretty."
In 2009 she formed the Canada-based theatre production company The Blood Projects with writer/producer and fellow actress Sasha Singer-Wilson. Through The Blood Projects, Jurgens produced and played the starring role of Eve in "This is It" directed by Mark Wilson, and Tessa in "Little Tongues" directed by Paul Lampert.
Although Jurgens admits that she has a strong connection to pretty much every role she's played so far, her role as Queen Ann in Peter Barnes "The Bewitched" has been one of her most beloved.
Directed by Dora Award winner Nigel Shawn Williams, the production revolves around the true story of the last of the Hapsburg royal line, an inbred family of rulers whose resulting diseases prevented them from producing an heir to the Spanish throne.
"It was a challenging experience playing a historical figure. Maria Anna of Neuburg was Queen of Spain from 1689 to 1700 as the second wife of King Charles II. It allowed me to explore her explosive anger, resulting in seizures and phantom pregnancies," recalls Jurgens.
In Shakespeare's words, "All the world's a stage," that is, at least for actress Sarah Jurgens; and, as she continues to take on new and exciting projects we know that this dynamic performer will continue to dazzle us with her craft for decades to come.
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