Theatre Review: "Bombay Dreams"

Share |
(Sacramento, CA)
Sunday, May 14, 2006

The sad thing about “Bombay Dreams” is that it really should have been a much better show than it is. The score is by A.R. Rahman, a master of Indian pop music.  He is to that country’s film industry what John Williams is to ours – a guy who’s written scads of catchy soundtracks. And this show features several blockbuster numbers that combine thumping melodies, chanted refrains and powerhouse percussion with award-winning choreography and costumes.


That’s the good part. But this show also has problems, and I mean big ones. We’re talking about cardboard characters, corny jokes, wooden dialog, sappy love lyrics and a storyline so robotic that you wonder why they bothered. Much of this is done tongue-in-cheek, spoofing the mindless aspects of the Indian film industry, and Broadway musicals, too. But this is a show that clearly wants to have its curry and eat it, too, because it simultaneously milks the formulas it makes fun of. It doesn’t work. The bottom line is that bad is bad. And there are sections of this show that are painful to watch. “Bombay Dreams” would have been much better if they’d taken out every single line of dialog, and told the story through dance and music. And I wish they’d left a few more Indian instruments in the pit orchestra – it’s top-heavy with synthesizers, and they’re not the same.