Bollywood Bursts onto Watford Stage

“You run around a tree with some fat guy old enough to be your dad.”  


“Find Your voice.  Find Your Tribe”


Cast. (Photo: Rich Lakos)

The title is a skit on the 80s British Pop Group “Frankie Goes to Hollywood”.  This musical production is from Pravesh Kumar of RIFCO, now based at the Watford Palace Theatre, who have been developing shows on the British South Asian scene for two decades.  Looking at the photographs in this review will probably tell you more than I can whether this show is for you because its strength for me lies in the costume, the choreography and the sets rather than the story line. 

It is based on a British Indian girl called Frankie (Laila Zaidi) who works in a cinema in Milton Keynes selling popcorn with her cousin Goldy (Katie Stasi).  Frankie’s mother (Helen K Wint) has died but she left her daughter memories of her career as a singer and dancer.  It is Goldy’s ambition to succeed as a Bollywood singer but her body shape doesn’t conform to what is required. 

Laila Zaidi as Frankie and Katie Stasi as Goldy (Photo: Rich Lakos)

Frankie meets trainee director Prem (played by heart throb Navin Kundra) and she is whisked off to Bollywood where she becomes the hottest property.  The aging male star is Raju King (Shakil Hussain) who invites Frankie to become a part of his inner power circle, called The Family.  Did I hear someone say, “ A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips,” ?  King’s current lead is Malika (a very fine voiced Helen K Wint) who is actually quite kind to Frankie despite the competition she poses.

Cast (Photo: Rich Lakos)

After being seduced by the stardom in Act One, Frankie finds her inner value system and speaks out about the way women are treated by the Bollywood industry.  I think the First Act, apart from the songs and swirling dance sequences could do with some tightening up but it is always difficult when you are setting up a denouement in the Second Act, to keep your audience fully engaged initially.

Cast (Photo: Rich Lakos)

The costume changes are very impressive as we have a gym scene, one with pilots and flight attendants and of course dancers in saris performing traditional Indian dance with accessories of yards of silk chiffon.  The scene back stage with changing costumes must be impressive to watch.  I found the women dancers in this show to be of a higher quality than the men and I know that there are brilliant male dancers out there, I remember, from the production of Beyond Bollywood that I saw at the Palladium in 2015.

Cast (Photo: Rich Lakos)

The broad comedy comes from Raju King and Gigi Zahir as Shona who camps it up in his red shearling Birkies and wearing a two feet wide red rose corsage.  The other great comedienne with some of Kumar’s best lines is Goldy with her emails to her cousin in Mumbai.

The second act is tighter, although we maybe don’t get to see enough of Navin Kundra but there is outstanding singing from Laila Zaidi and Helen K Wint.  Frankie shows she is an intelligent actor as she has to escape from the contract she was made to sign by Raju King.  All is put to right with a celebratory, crowd pleasing finale.

Cast (Photo: Rich Lakos)

Sadly the company haven’t developed a programme yet and I don’t buy the “saving the environment” excuse for a small flyer which I’d need a magnifying glass to read.  I’m sure the appreciative audience would value a pictorial record of the show with cast biographies as well as the online information. I liked Rebecca Brower’s sets with multiple arches, lanterns and swagged curtains.  The theatre’s proscenium arch has been given Indian architectural shapes and Philip Gladwell’s lighting enhances the colours and shiny fabrics. Credit must also go to Andy Kumar for his crucial joint roles as Costume Designer and Movement Director.   

RIFCO have created an entertaining show which be very welcome for Bollywood fans who can be in the room where it happens, a long way from Mumbai.  

The show is on tour to eight locations before it arrives at the SouthBank on 31st July 2024 for three weeks.  Scroll down to Information notes below.  

Helen K Wint as Malika and Cast (Photo: Rich Lakos)

Production Notes

Frankie Goes to Bollywood

Concept & Book by Pravesh Kumar

Songs and Music by Niraj Chag

Songs and Lyrics by Tasha Taylor Johnson

Directed by Pravesh Kumar




Laila Zaidi

Nikita Johal

Gigi Zahir

Katie Stasi

Helen K Wint

Kuldeep Goswami

Navin Kundra

Shakil Hussain

Anna Maria Barber

Tash Bacarese-Hamilton

Hari Chandresh

Dhruv Ravi

Qoobi Robinson

Tamara Verhoven Clyde


Director:  Pravesh Kumar

Movement: Andy Kumar

Set Designer: Rebecca Brower

Costume Design: Andy Kumar

Musical Director and Supervisor: Josh Sood

Lighting Designer: Phillip Gladwell

Sound Designer: Chris Murray

Video and Projection: Gurkiran Kaur

Fight Director: Terry King


Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes including an interval

Booking Watford  until 11th May 2024

Then touring to


HOME Manchester

Wed 15 May – Sat 25 May 2024

Beck Theatre, Hayes

Tue 28 May – Sat 01 Jun 2024

Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch

Tue 04 Jun – Sun 09 Jun 2024

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tue 11 Jun – Sat 15 Jun 2024

Alhambra, Bradford

Tue 18 Jun – Sat 22 Jun 2024

Theatre Royal Windsor

Tue 25 Jun – Sat 29 Jun 2024

Belgrade Theatre Coventry

Tue 02 Jul – Sat 06 Jul 2024

New Theatre, Cardiff

Tue 16 Jul – Sat 20 Jul 2024

Southbank Centre, London

Wed 31 Jul – Sun 18 Aug 2024



Watford Palace Theatre

20 Clarendon Road


WD17 1JZ

Box Office enquiries:

01923 225671

Tube/Rail : Watford Junction

Telephone: 01923 225671


Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge  at the Watford Palace Theatre 

on 30th April 2024

Cast. (Photo: Rich Lakos)