This week, audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre are being transported to India with the stage version of the much loved novel and movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
It's a charming and heartwarming story of a group of strangers who start a new chapter in their lives at a retirement hotel in India. Each wants something more from their lives than spending it in a retirement home in the UK. And although the less than 5 star hotel takes some getting used to, they fall in love with the place and find their lives changed in unexpected ways.
It's great to see a show which gives a positive portrayal of later life in a very honest and relatable way. It's very funny but also heartwarming and moving as we follow these characters on their journey and share the highs and lows of the guests as well as the hotel staff.
There's a star studded cast including legendary actress Rula Lenska (Rock Follies, Coronation Street, Eastenders) who is fabulous as feisty Madge; Hollywood icon and Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner, Hayley Mills (Wild at Heart, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap) as recently widowed Evelyn and household favourite and screen and stage star Paul Nicholas (Jesus Christ Superstar, Just Good Friends, Eastenders) as Douglas, the downtrodden husband of pessimistic Jean played by Eileen Battye.
There are also outstanding performances from Nishad More as Sonny Kapoor, the hotel manager, Rekha John-Cheriyan as his overbearing mother Mrs Kapoor and Shila Igbal as Sonny's love interest Sahani.
There's so much in this show to enjoy - from the character development to the hilarious one liners, but perhaps the reason for its enduring popularity is the way it encourages us all to make the most of our lives and not be afraid to grab opportunities when they come along.
Audience members of all ages will find the characters hugely relatable - it's great fun, but also tackles some important topics around how we see older people and the importance of taking risks sometimes.
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