The Merchants of Bollywood | Auditorium Theatre | Dance | Chicago Reader

The Merchants of Bollywood The Short List (Theater) Recommended Critics' Picks Brief Run (Theater)

When: Fri., Oct. 1 and Sat., Oct. 2 2010

Don't expect a strong story. The draws here are classic Bollywood tunes, sexy dancing, and loads of sequins. Hyped as having been seen by more than two million people since it premiered in 2005 in Sydney, Australia, this musical appeals to our inner toddler--that part of us attracted to shiny objects and moving parts. Toby Gough's spectacle, featuring 50 performers, follows the fortunes of Ayesha, a character loosely based on the musical's real-life choreographer, Vaibhavi Merchant, scion of a filmmaking dynasty, who became a Bollywood dancer. But the slim showbiz yarn merely holds the show together. And though Merchant's choreography alludes in superficial ways to traditional Indian poses and mudras, hip-hop and Broadway-style strutting take center stage. Video footage suggests that Dipender Singh steals the show as Ayesha's love interest, Uday, dropping into breakdance spins and flinging himself through the air in back flips. Former beauty queen Carol Furtado is significantly less kinetic as Ayesha. --Laura Molzahn

Price: $47-$100

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