The Bombay Dreams touring production, stopping in Pittsburgh through August 6, is as edge-free as a show can get. Based on the Bollywood film musicals, it is appropriately light and sweet, like a marshmallow. In a way, it seems to harken back to a time when musicals had little plot and contrived happy endings, but, unlike the best of those shows, Bombay Dreams' score (by A.R. Rahman and Don Black) is not particularly special, except for the effective influence of Indian music. The music and lyrics are not bad; in fact, listening to the score is pleasant, almost in a hypnotic way, due to the infectious instrumentation and rhythm. The songs do not stand out individually, but they have the appropriate sound and tone for the plot which offers the expected mixture of innocence, love triangles, comedy, and pseudo danger. Also present is abundant and energetic dance. It's hard to complain about such an affable piece of theatre, but those looking for substance will leave unfulfilled.
In the story (by Meera Syal and Thomas Meehan) Akaash (Sachin Bhatt) dreams of starring in a Bollywood film, but his life in the slums seems very far from that goal. The arrival of Vikram, a lawyer (Deep Katdare) who offers Akaash's grandmother free legal services, sets into motion a series of events that (surprise) lead to Akaash becoming Bollywood's biggest star. The young man finds he must decide between being loyal to his family and untouchable friends, or contining the shallow life of a screen idol. He's in love with Priya (Reshma Shetty), who is engaged to Vikram. Once Vikram's true colors are shown, of course Priya and Akaash are united.
The entire cast of Bombay Dreams turn in fine performances. Bhatt, in particular, has a winning personality, is a good dancer and is a terrific singer. The real charm of the show is found in the bigger production numbers. The choreography, by Lisa Stevens, is mostly in an upbeat pop style with Indian accents. The energy put into the dance by the cast and ensemble is palpable. Excellent rhythm support is supplied by two drummers perched high on either side of the proscenium arch. The colorful costumes (uncredited in my program) are very nicely done and add to the festive atmosphere of these fun group numbers.
Bombay Dreams at the Benedum Center through August 6. Visit www.pittsburghclo.org/ for ticket and performance information.