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Bhangra Nation – A New Musical

Patrick Lay at The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Tuesday 27th February 2024

As this was my first ever theatre review, it couldn't be more fitting that the show I would write about was Bhangra Nation – A New Musical as my wife is Sikh Punjabi. 

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Bhangra Nation is a brand new musical based on a book written by Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew. It is vibrant in colour and culture and what better way to start than with a Dhol drum intro.

The show itself is set in the USA and is almost like an Asian nod to High School Musical as there are a set of college students competing to perform at a dance competition in Chicago.  The dance team consist of a range of different ethnicities with the two main characters it is centred on both being driven for very different reasons, and with very different ideas on what style of dance moves they should perform to have a chance of winning the competition.

Preeti is a proud young Punjabi woman who is adamant that Bhangra must not dilute its Punjabi authenticity as there were other dance styles that the team were incorporating such as Hip-Hop.  Her insistence is born out of wanting to meet the expectations of her family traveling from Chandigarh, India to watch her perform.

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Whilst the other lead character Mary has bi-racial parentage and questions her identity especially when Pretti brands her as having “White ideas” a phrase that makes Mary crave a sense of belonging.  But with equal measure, Mary is desperate to honour her deceased mum who she visualises in her classical style of Indian dancing, Kathak. This for me was the most moving scene of the musical that could really put a tear in one's eye. 

Throughout the show, there was a tremendous variety of choreography that had the audience clapping along, and everything you could wish for from a musical – music, dancing, colourful Asian attire, disagreements and also a bit of romance thrown in just for good measure!

Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this show which has the added honour for Birmingham that it's premiering here in the second city at The Rep Theatre and runs until Saturday 16th March 2024.

 

 

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