Reviews

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Radio Karishma Interview w/ Rachana Sr
00:00 / 28:28
 

Thought provoking. Unapologetic. Sincere. The meaning behind the show is clear and the acting spot on. It brings out its questions with humanity, humor, and hopeful hopelessness. These are the stories that need to be told. I loved the unapologetic use of the actors cultural languages. There is a beautiful connection and joy that can only be shown when people are in their own “wheel house”. The movement moments were striking and vibrant. And even though the characters were facing strange and difficult problems, one couldn’t help but root for them to succeed.

Ryan Shelby Lee, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

All of the actors felt genuine to their characters’ emotions. This play isn’t afraid to take risks and feels very deliberate while also giving the talent enough room to chew on their scenes and make each beat their own. This show was very striking, both visually and in terms of subject matter. 

Alan Grinberg, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

In the wake of Asian hate crimes and the newfound focus on Asian American stories, Something In The Air presents so many deep and meaningful stories from across the Asian American diaspora. It hit many hard hitting topics such as Asian fetishization, familial pressure, and so many other issues immigrant children face everyday. The story was compelling, thrilling, and even a little mysterious. If you blink, you might miss something.

Taylor Nguyen, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

There are two of the actresses who are browner skinned, so when they go through TSA, they are the ones who are kept aside and given a full body search as opposed to the other Asian students who are lighter skinned... that stuck out to me… When the students came together and they started working together and against each other, I thought that was brilliant. I really think it's a strong piece and deals with a lot of important issues addressing the Asian community today, and especially seeing the young people deal with those issues was really refreshing.

Inger Tudor, Stage Raw, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

It was really special. I am looking forward to the next one. It is always such a gift to see you perform. 

Jason Pollak, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

The intentionality the cast puts behind every detail really made the performance and every emotion/action was heartfelt. This show really does a good job of laying out and reflecting on what it’s like to be an Asian American in our society and does so in a way that really connects with and sticks with you afterwards. 

Anonymous, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

Incredibly well-written with exceptional performances from the cast! Really entertaining, one of the most unique shows you will see at the Fringe. The story was really engaging and the humor throughout never detracted from the serious and mysterious situation the characters found themselves in. 

Elliot White, Something in the Air at Hollywood Fringe

The play covers many topics surrounding Asian and Asian American experiences.... The play has a good set up.  Wonderful to see such a diverse Asian cast on stage. There is a strong potential of talent in this group. These stories are vital.

Patrick Chavis, LA Theatre Bites

When I wanted to see how I should feel about what is going on, I looked at you, Ishika. You are so grounded on stage. 

Fiona Rose Dyer, Something in the Air at CalArts

Really beautiful and moving... what struck me most was the really interesting premise ... it goes to this supernatural place but also deals with real human emotion and trauma within that.

Prince Gomilvilas, Playwright, Something in the Air at CalArts

Took us on a journey of emotions– fun & laughter then really heartbreaking, genuine moments that hit us...

Brent Charles, Something in the Air at CalArts

There were moments in this show that meant a lot to me. I was in tears. Phenomenal production.

Jacob Shim, Something in the Air at CalArts

You just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your beautiful performance.

Samantha Behr, Playwright of The Fig and the Wasp

Ishika. YOU. ARE. A. STAR. I saw The Fig and the Wasp last night and was absolutely FLOORED by you. You showed grace, strength, power, emotion, range, everything that a leading woman can be... You are a force of nature...  Congratulations and I pray that you are proud of the mic you just dropped... You are what the Arts need in this world. Never ever stop.

B. K. Dawson, Staff and Alum at CalArts

OKAY!! Lady Senator... You slayed it last night! That is a fantastic performance and a fantastic piece with a wow factor all around!

Sam Paul Salman, Costume Design Alum at CalArts

"Jhansi Ki Rani, played by Ishika Muchhal, is an Indian warrior queen. Jhansi Ki Rani was one of the first woman of Indian royalty to learn the art of self-defense. ... The effort to dismantle gender roles in Indian culture is effectively portrayed in Muchhal’s performance." 

Jaelyn Decena, A Zoom of Ones' Own, The Cougar Chronicle

"These students bring experience in a wide range of dance forms and performance to create a coherent style of movement that represents their explorations into the abstract concepts of Estés. It is the penetrating howling and freedom of the wolves, combined with the moon’s energy, that forms the backdrop to a journey of self liberation. ... it makes for a delightful visual experience."

Richard Beck - Broadway Baby, Dear Mother Moon at Edinburgh Fringe

I was deeply impressed with Ishika's artistry and the mastery of her craft.  I wish I could have captured the positive energy in the auditorium that evening and focused it on a special target--world peace, perhaps.  What a gift she is to the world!

                                                                                                                                        Steve Baker, Monrovia City Historian & Treasurer

 

I am so blessed to have experienced this young woman’s Arangetram. I was moved to tears by her performance, and by the show of love and support by everyone in attendance.

                                                                                                                                                Angela Estela Moore, actor, director, writer

It was a superb performance and a wonderful community event. I loved being there and was honored to be invited.

                                                                                 Patrick Garcia, Director of Performing Arts Monrovia Unified School District, dancer

I truly enjoyed the Arangetram of Ishika Muchhal. The level of talent is amazing. 

                                                                                                                                    Thomas (Tom) E. Adams, Mayor – City of Monrovia

 

We are speechless! What an incredible performance by Ishika. I'm still mind blown. 
                                                                                                                           Rouzanna Berberian, photographer, artist, and educator


It was a spectacular & elegant performance by Ishika. Could see her years of hard work & dedication. Beautiful & poised. 
                                                                                                                                                                                Shraddha Khandelwal


Amazing and spiritual experience at Ishika's Arangetram this afternoon and evening of Bharatanatyam dance. Proud to have watched Ishika grow from an inquisitive 6-year-old to an accomplished young woman.
                                                                                                    Jane Houston Jones, astronomer and senior outreach specialist, NASA

The dedication, skill and more than a decade’s preparation was visible and touched every member in the audience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kaushlendra Misra

Words cannot express how much I appreciated you allowing me to share in this beautiful tradition and day. Ishika’s performance was breathtaking and I loved being able to learn and experience your culture. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Julie Casciani, XENCOR

“Very well done, especially your part. I’ve seen the Disney movie before and…the entire drama department did exceptional. I hope every single one of you is offered a job in Hollywood.”

– Ryan Wiles, audience for Tarzan

“Ishika, you have an especially expressive, beautiful face! You’re doing such a great job of staying grounded and not pushing too hard. You really stay in each moment and live there, which is lovely. You have an excellent connection to the storytelling ...”

Spotlight Review, Music Center

“Ishika’s Neil Simon monologue had good focus and understanding of the material; really great interaction with imaginary other and wonderful character arc; nice commitment to passion of character and situation, and nice connection with other characters. Hope you can do the play! Gogol monologue was charming and funny with great dramatic stakes and physical illustration; good interpretation of a flighty character; cute and appealing, well-defined character; well-staged and entertaining.”

– DTASC (drama competiton) judges: Natalie Brice, Robert Artz, Hannah Tamkin, and Steve Hovendahl

  • Feature on Rubio: Great lede on this feature article, and I loved the way you framed the assemblywoman’s uniqueness and goals. You also had perspectives from several other people, which I think is always crucial in a profile like this. 

  • Feature on Ritacca: This is a superb profile of an interesting professor. Great job getting a wide range of quotes from others to round out what she’s like. Very good job.

  • Opinion Hollywood diversity: Superb opinion piece here. Sharply written, doesn’t waste time or words in making its point, and is supported with strong evidence and explanations of why the problem exists. It also, crucially, highlights a solution to the identified problem. Very well done.

  • News story pandemic: This is good news writing. A solidly written piece, broad sourcing, some depth about vulnerable populations and concerns about vaccination proof.

 - Jeremy Fugleberg, News Correspondent and Citrus College Journalism Awards Judge

"Ishika achieved equal success in her modern classic and contemporary pieces. Her commitment to work is admirable and her appetite to grow is always there. She was able to utilize her facial movement with greater precision… There is a new range in her performative palette... Ishika has a lot to offer. The professional preparedness was on the highest level. Along with her emotional intelligence, she engaged imagination to use intuitive impulses and create specific images. 

Mirjana Jokovic, Actor and Studio Teacher at CalArts

Ishika’s focus and commitment to the work is unparalleled. She is fiercely disciplined and eager to learn. She was open to all exercises which she did with courage and abandon. Her monologue was beautifully invested and she found real colors and range. Her scenes were very strong, in particular the scene with Magdalene. By the final presentation that scene had beautiful painful and subtle feeling thought changes. She and Magdalene really made that material theirs and met the very high stakes of the scene. She was an absolute joy and pleasure to work with.

Marissa Chibas, Actor and Studio Teacher at CalArts

"What I admire most in Ishika is that she has consciously worked to break down her own perceived barriers of language and expression. In the summer of 2017, Ishika worked on creating a dance piece that explores specific sociopolitical issues of stereotyping. She leaned into what she seemed to fear and this allowed her to open up a unique space of learning where discipline, creativity, and free-thinking merge to enable deeper understanding... Ishika materialized for herself a distinctly radical approach—the ability to intertwine text, rhythm, gesture, movement, footwork, expression, and props while drawing from her classical training in Bharatanatyam. Ishika is alert to learnable moments, allowing herself to recognize new pathways that lead to different world views. Ishika chooses to actively realize her aspiration, flourishing into a thorough young artist with a unique voice of her own. [She is] a young woman of exceptional talent and creativity with a commitment to shaping more just communities-- It’s truly a rare and powerful combination. I believe Ishika has gone above and beyond in her efforts to understand the world around her and artistically respond to it.

– Dr. Elizabeth Kurien, Bharatanatyam teacher (Indian classical dance)

"She was remarkable in her final. Graceful, expansive, pure, peaceful, finding a rawness at her edges. I think her work in both [The] Fig [and the Wasp] and what I saw in class, touched a new trust in Ishika. I saw her own the moment to moment, filling it deeply and to its edges to inform the next moments. She is a leader, but also took a humble approach when developing her strength in class exercises, which I admire. She balances when she leads with when she turns inwards on new material and learning. Great work."

Anthony Nikolchev, Movement Teacher at CalArts

"She transforms, plays and enjoys playing. Great student, dedicated, committed and consistent. Wonderful energy. Great member in the cohort. Understands the material and runs with it. Very flexible and alive imagination. I enjoyed very much her performance in the MOD [The Fig and the Wasp]. Great presence."

Rafael Lopez Barrantes, CalArts Voice Teacher, founder of the Barrantes Voice System

"Ishika had a very strong year and did some lovely work with accents and dialects. She has a very strong foundation with speech. You are such a powerhouse performer. During both the Shakespeare monologue and radio drama you showed a lot of growth and did a very good job of maintaining your Classic American Stage Speech sounds. You are a joy to have in class."

Toni Smith (Dager), Speech Teacher and Voiceover Director

"Ishika and her scene partner created a wonderfully nuanced filmed version of their scene from Measure for Measure. They made inventive use of their separation in real life, incorporating eye line angles and reaction shots to sell the fiction of togetherness. The editing overall had a natural syntax, peppered with intelligent cinematic choices highlighting the characters’ perspective. She found intensity in stillness and restraint in the first section of the scene, allowing her to expand more fully and surprisingly at climactic later moments.  Her final monologue as Angelo was the high point of her semester: spontaneous, dynamic, emotionally transparent AND full of physical detail."

Lars America Jan, Director and Studio Teacher at CalArts

"Her dedication, sensitivity, and hard work were a great asset to the ensemble. In addition to a great work ethic, she is able to take direction ... Ishika is able to take her curiosity for the work and translate it into discoveries and play with joy."

Daniel Passer, Studio Teacher at CalArts

"Ishika is incredibly hard working, creative, and takes her training seriously. She is an intelligent, motivated, and supportive member of an ensemble. I was so impressed by the level of passion she has for acting and how she backs that up with dedication and hard work. Ishika has the talent to play a wide range of character types, i.e. dramatic, heightened, comedic, naturalistic/contemporary.  She intentionally took advantage of opportunities to stretch her range and try different characters.

[In her sonnet], Ishika did an excellent job of physical and vocal transformation, giving her character a heavy and nervous energy. It was a powerful performance... [In Angels in America], Ishika dove right in and bravely confronted the emotional intensity of the scene... she brought passion and sincerity to it. I really enjoyed their strange and fascinating take on Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights using 2-D video game concepts. Weird and brilliant! Their commitment to the highly stylized and absurdist mode of performance was very strong performance work, and Ishika created this incredible half-body MIHA costume. Ishika also revealed her interests and talents in sound design and music production."

Chi-Wang Yang, Acting Teacher at CalArts

"Ishika is a powerhouse of intellect and talent, and a generous ensemble member. Mature, disciplined and intellectually curious about the work, she was a reliably hard-working presence in class, always prepared and ready to work, very professional in demeanor. Her Poem Project was well done and deeply personal, allowing a fiery connection to her material that is a less-showcased side of Ishika. Her Anna Deavere Smith Project was also strong work, great commitment rounded out the three-dimensional characterization. Her final demonstrated a near-perfect understanding of our skills/techniques..."

Voice Faculty at CalArts

"I appreciated her enthusiasm and seriousness for the work and her craft.  She brought in a dance that was beautiful, entertaining and seducing. She has great skill and work ethic… Character sketches demonstrated a strength for observation and variety of character. She really played with a variety of dynamics to create characters that saw the world differently."

Estela Garcia, Movement/Masks Teacher at CalArts

" Her final, and the approach to it, showed a significant expansion in creative prospective and technical application. Her precision with the language was easy and unlabored. Her final presentation of Constance was well-grounded and deeply connected. There is a size and scope in her interpretation of the material that I haven’t seen or felt before. Ishika’s transcription work continues to be topmost of notches! "

Christopher Fairbanks, Speech Teacher at CalArts

"You are more than an actor. You are an artist and creator. I see you think about theater and your work like a live painting. I'm excited to see where this work takes you. You were brave and I saw the work."

Kalean Ung, Voice Teacher at CalArts (Barrantes System)

"Ishika brings the energy of leader, she is bright, friendly, and thoughtful. She is a pleasure to watch grow and develop in her training. She definitely up-ed her game, becoming much more focused on technique and partner-work. She improved her handstand and bridge flexibility and a competitive side to her surfaced. This feistiness coupled with her natural enthusiasm and infectious joy makes her great to play in the roda. She has a natural enthusiasm that is infectious and inviting; because she is having fun, her development was organic and considerable! Ishika is also a talented musician and spent a considerable amount of time working on atabaque and pandeiro." 

Sean Anthony Moran and Jessica Moran, Capoeira Instructors at CalArts

“Imagination should be her middle name. Ishika has tons of ideas! She had helped develop much of our show and is a crucial part of the class. Ishika helped in creating a lot of the dance and she even created the songs in the play. In movement class, Ishika is never afraid of expression. She is so focused in class. She works well with viewpoints and took directions quickly. Ishika continues to be a strong leader. I continue to enjoy what she contributes to the camps play process. She is not just smart but very giving, willing to even share her lunch with a hungry classmate.”

– Aries Sanders, Acting Teacher in Discovery on Stage)

“Ishika is amazing! Over the course of nearly thirty years of teaching, there is only one Ishika. She has earned straight A’s throughout her four years of high school, taking some of our most rigorous AP courses and thriving. She has been a vital part of the high school drama program since she arrived on campus and included the performing arts each academic year. 

In addition to class, Ishika is a leader on campus. She has participated in our Interact Club sponsored by Monrovia Rotary all four years at school. In truth, she has been my best President in six years of advising this club. Ishika worked to build membership, followed through as a leader for every event, and set a tone of commitment and hard work throughout the year. For her 16th birthday, Ishika asked for donations to Stop Hunger Now, a project Rotary and Interact work together on. Each year our community packs 20,000+ Stop Hunger Now meals to be sent to schools in Latin America. The donation from her birthday money helped set a new record of meals that could be purchased and packaged. Ishika traveled as Rotary’s representative to France last summer and she has been honored by our community as a leader and stellar representative of what Monrovia is most proud of as a community.
Ishika has the respect of every teacher who has ever had her in class – teachers consistently seek me out to say, ‘Do you know about Ishika? She is awesome!’”

– Mrs. Annie Van Dyke, teacher, Interact advisor

“We talk a lot about the potential of our students at MHS, and in [Ishika's] case, the world ‘limitless’ comes to mind.” 

– Mr. Paul Dols, Renaissance coordinator, Renaissance Hall of Fame

“You are a very unique girl. You have creativity, talent, brains, etc. People like you will run this world, and I know with someone like you running the world, the world will be a beautiful place.” 

– Mr. Richard Montenegro, teacher

“You are great, but you know that. You are talented, but you know that. Make sure the world knows! You were a silver lining in a sky of grey clouds."

– Mr. Anthony Flucker, teacher and director, film and video production

“Excellent focus and great self-awareness. Good attention for hand to hand work. Great attitude overall.”

– Jeremy Jackson and Dominic Catrambone, professional actors, stage combat and acting teachers

“You are one of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met. I am so honored to have been your teacher and experienced your thoughtful intelligence and wonderful performances.”

– Ms. Swava Stengel, teacher

“I can’t wait to see you perform at the Pantages! Thank you for always giving your all and making AP Euro an absolute joy to teach.”

– Ms. Natalie Harrison, teacher

“I am so happy to have had you as a student and to have watched you perform over the years. You have made MHS a better place and now are going to make the world a better place.”

– Mr. Mark Lovers, teacher

“What a creative and fascinating child! It’s rare to meet a naturally creative child.”

– Richard Stubbs, songwriter, musician, teacher

“You have been one of the best performing and well-rounded students I have encountered in the past 13 years of my teaching career. You have served as a motivation to keep me on top of my game. Your potential is unlimited.”

– Mr. Robert Montes, teacher

“You are truly one of the most wonderfully weird individuals that I have ever known. Know your limits – infinity.”

– Mr. Carlos Cuellar, teacher

“You are such an amazing person and you have one of the most beautiful souls. Thank you for being someone I can count on for anything and always having a smile on your face! You are going to be big one day and when I look at everything you have become, I will feel blessed to have been able to work with you.”

– Samantha Avalos, stage manager

"You have more than one lens because you look at people as people. You look at them as another human being."

Barbara Gholar, Excellence in All Things

“Ishika is an extraordinary young person who began thinking about, caring about and supporting others at the tender young age of 4 when she began volunteering for various nonprofits throughout our community. It has been a pleasure to watch Ishika grow in her love of volunteering and her scholastic achievements. A talented actress and singer, Ishika excels theatrically...

– Mary Ann Lutz, Citrus College trustee, former Mayor of Monrovia, NWPC SGV President

“Having known Ishika for more than ten years, I have observed her grow into a poised and accomplished young woman. She is talented, caring, dedicated and focused in her endeavors. Ishika has superior interpersonal skills and works well independently or in a group setting. She has shown good leadership skills when involved in group projects. She is well liked and respected by her peers and adults.”

– Jenny Pappano, Interact and American Cancer Society advisor

Interviews