India home of Bollywood, that extravagant movie genre with over-the-top singing and dancing boasts the world's largest film industry. But you'd never know it here in the States, where Paul Walker and a middle-aged black guy in drag are considered stars. Characters who sing and speak in a foreign language, coupled with marathon three-hour running times, contribute to the obvious hurdles these flicks must conquer. Onstage, however, Bombay Dreams wraps Bollywood into a neat, accessible package. "It's opening eyes to a different culture," says Reshma Shetty, who plays Priya in the touring production that opens at Playhouse Square tonight. "When you're Asian, you become doctors and engineers. There's other talent in the community, and to be a part of that is awesome."
The story is typical Bollywood: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy dances and sings his way back into girl's heart. And the sets, costumes, and musical numbers all burst with color. But you don't need subtitles or a halftime nap to understand Bombay Dreams, which will be performed in English. "It's pure entertainment," says Shetty. "But it's cut up in a way that [U.S. audiences] can understand."
Shetty, who was born in India, grew up in England. Bollywood movies were part of her childhood, but she never fully understood them, since she speaks only English. Yet that didn't take away their appeal. Even since moving to the U.S. (she graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music), she still gets together with friends for a Blockbuster night of Bollywood flicks. "It's like home to me," she says.
March 21-24, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., March 25, 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 26, 1 & 6:30 p.m.