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Frankie Goes to Bollywood artwork

All About Theatre four star review

Frankie Goes to Bollywood is a new musical from Pravesh Kumar of RIFCO, a theatre company known for producing accessible plays and musicals that reflect and celebrate British South Asian experiences. The musical is from the makers of Britain’s Got Bhangra and is described as Rifco Theatre’s most ambitious musical yet. Frankie Goes to Bollywood is inspired by real stories of British women in the Bollywood spotlight. Bollywood refers to the Hindi-language movie industry in India. It began in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1930s and has since developed into an enormous film empire. Over the years, Bollywood has produced a wide range of films and now produces as many as 1,000 feature films annually in various languages making it the biggest film industry in the world.

Frankie Goes to Bollywood production photo

Frankie (Laila Zaidi) is a British Indian girl from Milton Keynes who lost her mother at a young age. Frankie cherishes the memories of watching Bollywood films with her mother, who had harboured dreams of stardom in the industry. Working at a cinema with her cousin Goldy (Katie Stasi) Frankie encounters the up-and-coming film director Prem Kapoor (Navin Kundra), seizing the chance, she secures an audition for Goldy, who aspires to be an actress. However, it's Frankie who catches their eye during Goldy's audition and finds herself cast in the film. Suddenly, Frankie is plunged into the cutthroat world of Bollywood, where her career rapidly ascends. She finds herself working alongside the veteran actor Raju King (Shakil Hussain) and enters into a relationship with him to advance her career and integrate into the Bollywood elite. However, Raju coerces Frankie into signing a contract. As her fame increases, Frankie becomes increasingly conscious of the industry's gender inequality and starts advocating for women's rights, highlighting the different experiences faced by her female peers compared to their male counterparts.

Frankie Goes to Bollywood production photo

Rebecca Brower's set design features an array of Indian arches, lanterns, draped curtains, and various backdrops, with the musicians visible at the rear of the stage. Although the overall set was basic, the use of larger props adeptly shifted the scene from England to India. The set's simplicity was transformed by Phillip Gladwell's remarkable lighting, which used colourful illumination to both tell the story and bring the set to life. Complementing this, Andy Kumar's vibrant and glittering costume designs gained further prominence under Gladwell's lights. Together, the set, lighting, and costumes created a captivating visual feast that truly embodied the lavish spirit of Bollywood.

Frankie Goes to Bollywood production photo

The show boasts songs and music by Niraj Chag, along with lyrics by Tasha Taylor Johnson. It offers a diverse array of songs, ranging from lively upbeat tunes to beautiful ballads, and includes several numbers performed in Hindi. Chag and Johnson have skilfully blended elements of Bollywood flair, theatrical tradition, and Western pop influences to craft a truly remarkable musical soundtrack.

Frankie Goes to Bollywood production photo

The cast of "Frankie Goes to Bollywood" was outstanding, the ensemble were brimming with energy and flawlessly executing the high-octane group dance sequences. The standout performers for me were Laila Zaidi as Frankie, Katie Stasi as Goldy, and Gigi Zahir as Shona.

Laila Zaidi was particularly endearing in her role; her infectious energy and strong, convincing performance won over the audience, who rooted for her character despite her apparent blindness to fame. Moreover, her vocal performance was exceptional.

Katie Stasi portrayed Goldy's confidence and positivity with finesse, coupled with impeccable comic timing. She skilfully revealed her character's insecurities and vulnerabilities, rendering Goldy a character that was both relatable and endearing. Stasi's vocal talent shone through, especially in her solo song, which became one of my favourite musical numbers from the show.

The chemistry between Zaidi and Stasi was palpable, making their on-screen friendship utterly believable.

Gigi Zahir's portrayal of Shona, a multifaceted character juggling roles from choreographer to restaurant owner to talk show host, was nothing short of fantastic. Zahir infused the role with sass and charisma, adding a layer of humour and entertainment that was a delight to watch.

Frankie Goes to Bollywood production photo

I thoroughly enjoyed "Frankie Goes To Bollywood." It's a fun show full of heart, bright and colorful with stunning costumes and a fantastic cast. The show's score was impressive, featuring many catchy songs that have lingered in my mind since I saw the show. The Bollywood references were a delight, complete with melodramatic moments where fans were brought on stage, actors moved in slow motion, and the music swelled, providing excellent comedic relief. The show also thoughtfully addressed themes of female empowerment, the perils of fame, the realities of success, and the significance of friendship. If you're in search of an enjoyable evening at the theatre that will ensure you leave smiling, then this show is the perfect choice.

Frankie Goes to Bollywood is running at Home in Manchester until Saturday 25th May 2024 you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about Frankie Goes to Bollywood including where the show will be traveling to on its tour, you can find it at rifco theatre company's official website which you can find by clicking on the button below.

Photo Credit - Rich Lakos

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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