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REVIEW: Taj Express at Birmingham Hippodrome

There's a lot of amazing shows touring the UK at the moment. From Kinky Boots to Matilda and back again, there's a huge number of shows that cater for every palette. However one that had avoided my radar - until now - was Taj Express.

The show follows the story of ones man’s passion and another man’s genius. Young composer Shankar struggles with his music, and it’s only when he begins to follow in the footsteps of his idol, A.R. Rahman that he discovers his path to success. The production reveals the secrets of the world's most prolific film industry, and the people behind the screen who make the magic in India's factory of dreams.

The concept of Bollywood has long been fairly commercialised in my mind. I've seen the culture of the movement in much the same way I'd probably pigeonhole 'Spain' by the tourist destinations rather than the back streets and rural villages that really show off the country.

Taj Express rhythmically blends explosive dance with the hits of India’s most iconic composers and is brought to life by the stars of Bollywood cinema and its greatest musicians performing live on stage. 

It is set to an unforgettable score, featuring the songs of Oscar winner A.R. Rahman. It's fair to say this isn't a show you'll probably sit down to watch with sound knowledge of the soundtrack. However what it is, is a musical extravaganza with one of the most beautifully intense musical accompaniments around. This is definitively Bollywood but in a way that allows you access that you just don't get with the 'norm'.

With a cast of multi-talented performers, Taj Express is an uplifting show full of colour, high-energy music and sensational dance scenes choreographed by one of Bollywood’s top young choreographers, Vaibhavi Merchant and directed by Shruti Merchant.

The cast are quite simply sublime, presenting Bollywood with an authenticity - but also an accessibility - which had the whole audience spontaneously on their feet during the bows. Special mention should go to Chandan Raina as Flash and Vidyuth Gargi as Shankar, the male lead of the show. Their humour, warmth and self-deprecating style put everybody at ease in minutes and set the show apart from many of its contemporaries.

This isn't a production for a specific section of society. In today's multi-cutural second city, this show is everything that's great about Birmingham and definitely one that should be top of your list of must see's.

Taj Express runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 15th September. For tickets, or more information, head online to birminghamhippodrome.com.

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