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24 September 2014

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Bombay Dreams - 20.06.02
Bombay Dreams
Bombay Dreams: a huge ensemble cast beautifully animates the entire show
spacer Our critic Mark Shenton on Bombay Dreams: " a completely original piece of writing..."

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Bombay Dreams
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Apollo Victoria
Wilton Road SW1
0870 4000 650
Tube: Victoria
Tue - Sat 7.45pm, Wed, Sat & Sun Mats 3pm
£14 - £40
Booking to Oct 2003

Mark Shenton
Theatre critic Mark Shenton


Just when the modern musical seemed lost to pop compilations or adaptations of movies, a new one has arrived that combines both those strands, but is in fact a completely original piece of writing.

The show is Bombay Dreams, a part-pastiche but all-panache stage version of the kind of corny romantic movie musicals that regularly emanate from Bollywood.

The show lifts the lid on the personalities and politics of some of its film-makers and stars, while simultaneously presenting lavishly staged extracts from the kind of films they make.

Active participants

Many of the creative team and cast that the show's producer Andrew Lloyd Webber has cannily assembled have actively participated in Bollywood, not least another extraordinarily fertile melodist, A.R. Rahman, whom Lloyd Webber has put into the composer's chair that he normally occupies himself.

Though Rahman is unknown over here, in his native India he has scored the soundtracks to some fifty Bollywood films, the CD recordings of which have notched up sales in excess of 100 million copies - as much as Madonna and Britney Spears combined!

Also from Bollywood, choreographer Farah Khan (working alongside British stalwart Anthony van Laast) has provided the exhilarating dances that illuminate such showstopping songs as 'Shakalaka Baby' and 'Salaam Bombay'.

Meanwhile, designer Mark Thompson, who cleverly even utilises the art deco architecture of the Apollo Victoria's auditorium itself at key points, provides exotically and evocatively stunning sets.

Slum dweller to movie star

All are pressed into the service of a story, created by comic actress and writer Meera Syal, that follows its hero, Akaash, on his passage from Bombay slum dweller to movie star, with wit and drenched in sublime melody.

Raza Jaffrey and Preeya Kalidas
Raza Jaffrey and Preeya Kalidas

There hasn't been a richer or more appropriate musical ballad than 'The Journey Home' in years, and it's delivered with amazing power by Raza Jaffrey as Akaash, the most exciting new leading man to emerge in a London musical since Hugh Jackman became an overnight star in the National Theatre production of Oklahoma!

Leading lady Preeya Kalidas as the object of Akaash's love is also a tremendous new discovery.

But a huge ensemble cast beautifully animates the entire show. They include a warmly drawn portrait of a transsexual (Raj Ghatak) and a hilarious showbiz gossip reporter (Shelley King), as well as a buxomly winning movie star (Ayesha Dkarker).

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