No-fuss Bridal Party Tactics Clarified

Newlyweds Aditi (played by Kuhoo Verma, second from right) and Hemant (Michael Maliakel, right) celebrate their new union amid a downpour in “Moonsoon Wedding,” getting its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. By Karen D’Souza | | Bay Area News Group BERKELEY — Rain is definitely in the forecast in the overheated world of “Monsoon Wedding,” but this downpour is a swirling typhoon of sound and color that tries to wash the blues away. Director Mira Nair has steeped this effervescent if uneven musical in the spirit of her hit 2001 film, but the show never feels like an imitation. Nair harnesses the tools of the theater, it’s frenetic immersive energy, to give the piece freshness and wit, but the unwieldy musical hasn’t quite found its rhythm. In its highly-anticipated world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre before heading to Broadway, “Monsoon” gets off to a sluggish start, suffering from haphazard pacing in Act 1. But by the closing number you are swept up in a lively fusion of tragic human flaws and cathartic Bollywood giddiness. There’s a sweetness and lightness to the production that’s intoxicating even if the ebullient ending doesn’t feel entirely earned at this point. Welcome to a big fat Punjabi wedding, where stormy weather is the least of the drama. In a stage bedecked by marigolds, a family converges in Delhi for a four-day party culminating in an arranged marriage between a tony Indian family’s only daughter and a man she’s never met. Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Anisha Nagarajan plays a maid whose romance with the wedding planner is threatened by cultural differences in “Monsoon Wedding” at Berkeley Rep.  The groom Hemant (a one-note Michael Maliakel) is Indian but he lives in New Jersey, plus the bride Aditi (Kuhoo Verma) is having an affair with a married man and her family is running low on dough.

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