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'Bombay Dreams' hits Broadway

By Kendis Gibson and Rosemary Jean-Louis
CNN Headline News

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Andrew Lloyd Webber

(CNN) -- If a musical is a smash in London's West End, you have to make it even bigger and better for Broadway. Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to have adopted that mantra for his latest musical export "Bombay Dreams."

Despite bad reviews, the song and dance show set in India's version of Hollywood (dubbed Bollywood) did big business in Britain during its two-year run. The show's producers are spending $14 million to ensure "Bombay's" success crosses the Atlantic.

The revamped extravaganza features new sets and costumes. Musical numbers have been super-sized. A showstopper that featured a fountain with 13 hoses in the British version now features 32 hoses. The amount of lip-synching has also been reduced. This production contains only one lip-synched number.

Other notable changes are in the show's script. "There are many points in the show where the jokes are quite [anglified], and they're specific for especially an Asian culture in Britain," says Stephen Rahman Hughes, one of the lead actors in the London show.

Those jokes have been tweaked for American audiences. The storyline itself has also been retooled for American palates. The plot revolves around a man who rises above the Bombay slums to become a star in Bollywood. Along the way he falls in love with a woman of a much higher caste.

Several subplots have been pared down, and the romance has been given more of a central role and has evolved into a love triangle.

The rewrites were made by Thomas Meehan, the Tony Award-winning writer behind "Annie," "The Producers" and "Hairspray." Lloyd Webber was apparently pleased with the changes and will share them with fellow Britons. But they will have to wait until next year to see it. The London production will close June 13 to implement the upgrade.

"Bombay Dreams" is now on stage at Broadway Theatre in New York.


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