Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bunty Berman Presents ***

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Ayub Khan Din's 1996 play "East Is East" is one of the funniest plays I have ever seen (rent the movie!), so I have been looking forward to his new musical, an affectionate look at Bollywood, now in previews at The New Group. This time around, he wrote the book, lyrics and, with Paul Bogaev, the music. Due to an injury that forced the lead actor to drop out, he even took over the title role. I found the show charming, but many might disagree. If you have a taste for silliness, cartoonish characters, corny jokes, ridiculous plot developments, pratfalls, sight gags and word play, you will have a good time. Bunty Berman is head of a third-rate Bombay movie studio whose success was built on its star Raj Dhawan (the hilarious Sorab Wadia), who is now long in the tooth and broad in the beam. The studio's only hope for survival is to take in as a partner a notorious gangster Shankar Dass (Alok Tewari) who wants to turn his son Chandra (Raja Burrows) into a star. Bunty's loyal personal assistant Dolly (Gayton Scott) longs for his attention. Saleem, the tea boy (Nick Choksi), is in love with the leading lady Shambervi (Lipica Shah). Dass is smitten with exotic dancer Sandra de Souza (Lyn Philistine). There is a running gag that one of the henchmen is a walking thesaurus, ever ready with an apt synonym or two.  Derek McLane's functional set is enhanced by projections by Wendall K Harrington. William Ivey Long's costumes are wonderful. The choreography by Josh Prince is hilarious. Scott Elliott's direction is fine. I laughed myself silly, but I am aware that not everyone would share my delight. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes, including intermission.

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