As previously tipped (See The Goss, 27 Jun 2007), Bollywood screen star Shilpa Shetty (pictured), winner of this year’s controversial “race row” Celebrity Big Brother, will make her stage debut later this year, taking the title role in the new musical Miss Bollywood. The production, which premieres in Berlin this weekend (29 September 2007), opens the UK leg of its European tour at the Manchester Opera House from 3 to 6 November 2007, before continuing to seven further venues culminating with two nights only, 12 and 13 December, at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Miss Bollywood is set against the backdrop of a London busily preparing for the 2012 Olympics. It follows the story of ‘Maya (Shetty), a classically trained dancer and choreographer recently arrived from India to set up a dance academy in a soon to be demolished east London building. Maya soon finds herself thrust into the limelight, where she must either sink or swim. Her tribulations include the unwanted attentions of a famous but predatory choreographer and a jealous diva.

Shetty and a 40-strong company of dancers will recreate dance sequences from Bollywood film classics. The musical is produced by international impresario Farhath Hussain. The Indian creative team is led by director and choreographer Ganesh Hedge and costume designer Neeta Lulla, who has dressed Shilpa Shetty in many of her Bollywood films. The Miss Bollywood company, cast in the UK and India, also features Nicholas Brown, Anousha Dandekar, Wayne Perrey, Swini Khar, Amit Sial, Anand Tiwar and, as the mayor of London, Peter Rylands.

In addition to providing an “extravaganza”, according to promotional material, the show “also takes a gentle look at the cultural divide between characters with Asian heritage but who consider themselves totally British and those who are from India in search of fame and fortune in Europe’s multi-cultural capital city”.

Commenting on her new role, Shetty said: “The project has been a labour of love in its entirety, and seeing its fruition, from the initial concept into a tangible realisation has been a dream come true. Miss Bollywood will appeal not only to fans of Bollywood films and their super-catchy hit songs but also to the mainstream audiences for high energy dance or musical theatre. Extravaganza is the right description!”

Following Manchester and ahead of London, Miss Bollywood will visit Cardiff, Bradford, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cambridge.

- by Terri Paddock