That's Bollywood: Bombay Dreams Opens on Broadway April 29

News   That's Bollywood: Bombay Dreams Opens on Broadway April 29
After a month of previews, the new musical that plants a Bollywood tale on a Broadway stage, Bombay Dreams, opens at the Broadway Theatre April 29.

The onstage fountain in Bombay Dreams
The onstage fountain in Bombay Dreams Photo by Joan Marcus

Originally produced in London by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Really Useful Company, the Broadway production is being presented by Waxman Williams Entertainment and TGA Entertainment. Previews began March 29.

With a score by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Don Black and a revised book by Thomas Meehan and Myra Syal, Bombay Dreams tells the story of Akaash a brash young slum-dweller who dreams of becoming a Bollywood movie star and meeting his idol, the voluptuous screen siren Rani. And wouldn't you know it, his dream comes true—but not without some personal costs and a good dousing in an on-stage dancing fountain.

Steven Pimlott directs. At a recent press event, director Pimlott spoke to Playbill On-Line about the musical: "It’s an old-fashioned love story about a poor boy who makes it big, falls in love with a girl from a different class, problems get in the way, he loses himself, there’s a tragedy involved . . . [and] he’s able to become a hero and get the girl."

During previews, composer Rahman also chatted with Playbill On-Line and spoke about the differences between the London and Broadway versions of Bombay Dreams: "[The show has] a bigger budget to play with [on Broadway]. I've got a bigger orchestra now, 19 people. I really wanted the strings in the London one, but because of the budget, they couldn't afford it. Now we have all the extra goodies, which are really helping the show. And, of course, we have the really big sets now, which are looking better than the London show."

When asked how he thought American audiences would take to the show, the best-selling composer said, "It's a difficult question because we're trying to be honest with what we are doing and [it's up to] each individual to like it or not. I think it's a different show, and those who are probably bored with the stuff they've seen over and over again and for a change, they could come to this. And it's the introduction of a completely different culture, which is worth taking a look at." The production mirrors many a Bollywood musical in its lavish and plentiful production numbers, which find a good portion of the grinning Bombay population joyously dancing in unison to a propulsive beat. The show's centerpiece is perhaps the disco-ish "Shakalaka Baby," in which Rani and Akaash dance in and around a growing fountain.

Although Andrew Lloyd Webber isn't producing the Broadway version, Rahman said that the Tony-winning composer is still involved in the show. "He comes in and out," said Rahman. "I think it's good to have somebody who's completely into something else who comes in and sees it objectively. He came a couple of days back and did some adjustments on the sound. The theatre had some curtains, and it kind of ate up all the reverb, so he adjusted things. Little things like that are brilliant."

The Broadway company features the talents of Manu Narayan (as Akaash), Anisha Nagarajan (as his love, filmmaker Priya), Ayesha Dharker (as Rani), Sriram Ganesan (as Akaash's best friend Sweetie), Marvin L. Ishmael (as Madan), Deep Katdare (as lawyer and Priya's fiance, Vikram) and Madhur Jaffrey (as Akaash's grandmother, Shanti).

The ensemble comprises Jolly Abraham, Mueen Jahan Ahmad, Aaron J. Albano, Celine Alwyn, Anjali Bhimani, Shane Bland, Wendy Calio, Tiffany Cooper, Sheetal Ghandi, Krystal Kiran Garib, Tania Marie Hakim, Dell Howlett, Suresh John, Ian Jutsun, Miriam Laube, Aalok Mehta, Ron Nahass, Michelle Nigalan, Zahf Paroo, Danny Pathan, Bobby Petska, Kafi Pierre, Sarah Ripard, Darryl Semira, Lisa Stevens, Kirk Torigoe, James R. Whittington and Nicole Winhoffer.

Song titles include "Salaa'm Bombay," "Bollywood," "Love's Never Easy," "Lovely, Lovely Ladies," "Bhangra," "Shakalaka Baby," "I Could Live Here," "Is This Love?," "Famous," "Chaiyya Chaiyya," "How Many Stars?," "Hero," "Ganesh Procession," "The Journey Home" and "Wedding Qawali."

The Bombay creative team comprises Anthony van Laast and Farah Khan (choreography), Mark Thompson (scenic and costume design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design) and Mick Potter (sound design).

The Broadway Theatre is located at 1681 Broadway at 53rd Street. Tickets are priced $60-$100.

The company of <i>Bombay Dreams</i>
The company of Bombay Dreams Photo by Joan Marcus
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