The much-anticipated Bollywood musical, Bombay Dreams, opens tonight, 19 June 2002, at the West End's Apollo Victoria theatre where producer Andrew Lloyd Webber's own musical, Starlight Express, closed in January after 18 years in the West End.

Bombay Dreams represents an unusual departure for Lloyd Webber. Although he conceived the new work, along with filmmaker Shekhar Kapur who co-produces, it does not feature any of his music. Instead, it is scored by young Indian composer A R Rahman, who has composed the music for more than 50 Hindi films and who Lloyd Webber has lauded as "one of the most exciting young composers of our time".

In Bombay Dreams, young slum-dweller Akaash dreams of becoming a huge star in "Bollywood", the £750 million Indian industry that produces and internationally distributes some 600 films a year. His encounter with beautiful, Priya and her father, a corrupt movie mogul, sets him on his way. But is Akaash willing to pay the price of fame? And can his and Priya's love survive?

Raza Jaffrey and newcomer Preeya Kalidas, who star as Akaash and Priya, are joined in the 42-strong cast by Ayesha Dharker (as Rani), Raj Ghatak (Sweetie), Shelley King (Kitty), Raad Rawi (JK), Dalip Tahil (Madan) and Ramon Tikaram (Vikram).

Bombay Dreams has a book by British actress, comedian and novelist Meera Syal, and English song lyrics by Don Black. It is directed by Steven Pimlott and designed by Mark Thompson, with choreography by Anthony Van Laast and Bollywood sequences by Farah Kahn. Musical supervision will be by Christopher Nightingale.

- by Terri Paddock