Erik Kaiko, star of Silk Road Cabaret

Since its founding in 2003, the Silk Road Theatre Project has specialized in work by playwrights of Asian and Middle Eastern descent. But its fall opener will consist almost entirely of songs by writers with a European pedigree. Curated by SRTP artistic director Jamil Khoury and directed by Rick Dildine, Silk Road Cabaret consists of selections from Asia-centric musicals by the likes of Rodgers & Hammerstein (The King and I, South Pacific), Stephen Sondheim (Pacific Overtures), George Forrest and Robert Wright (Kismet), Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil (Miss Saigon), and Elton John (Aida). Also in the mix is Bombay Dreams, the 2002 musical about a young man hungry for Bollywood stardom. With a score by Indian composer A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Brit Don Black, the show was a West End hit but a New York flop. “British audiences ate it up, but Broadway audiences spit it out,” says Khoury. “Perhaps that’s because the English have more awareness of India due to their colonial history.” Rather than perform the songs in their original dramatic context, the six-person Asian-American cast will put their own spin on them. “A lot of our images of the East came from these musicals, whether based in fact, fantasy, or stereotype,” says Khoury. “This is a chance to poke a little fun at the material while also learning from it.” Opens 10/21. Through 11/1, Silk Road Theatre Project, 77 W. Washington, 312-857-1234,, $30. —Albert Williams