In ‘Mountains Made for Us,’ cultures clash on multiple levels

The first thing you may notice entering the Vintage Theatre to see Mountains Made for Us is that the usual theater crowd of older white people has been replaced with a much more diverse group. Black, brown, white, young, old — it’s an audience that looks a lot more like, y’know, America.

That’s exactly the way Deepali Lindblom wants it. The Indian-born dancer and actress who co-wrote the play with Luke Sorge is also the driving force behind Roshni — an Aurora-based performing arts center that welcomes what she calls “people on the margins.” Whether you’re a refugee from Nepal, a disabled person from Colorado or a transplant from India, you’re welcome at Roshni.

Many of those people have found themselves onto the stage to perform Mountains Made for Us — a semi-autobiographical story about Lindblom’s life that combines a love story with a bit of Bollywood dance and music and the obligatory culture clash when the main character’s family arrives from India none-too-pleased with their daughter’s choice of boyfriend.

Or, really, any boyfriend: Like many Indian women even today, Mini (Lindblom) already has a fiancé — a match arranged by her father (Sandeep Koppa). She was allowed to sow a few wild oats in Colorado to see if she could make a go of it as a dance professional, but after a year of running her studio in the Denver area, Mini is still broke and about to lose her lease.

Complicating things is the Colorado bro who owns the weed shop next door. Cal (Jeremy Barnes) is a divorced, laid-back guy not expecting much when he meets and instantly falls in love with the beautiful Mini. They’re complete opposites in almost every way but, as these stories go, they’re stuck on one another. Cal, however, doesn’t know about Pradeep (Sanket Wagh), the fiancé back in India, and Mini is too conflicted to tell him.

But when her father and mother (Mireille Bakhos) show up in Colorado, followed shortly thereafter by Pradeep, well, the henna’s gonna fly.

A new way to tell an old story

Mountains Made for Us is a familiar story about falling for the “wrong” person as your family or culture would see it. The irate father, the confused mother, the tormented lovers, the promised one left out in the cold and the inevitable climax that leads to everything working out in the end. What’s unique about this show is the size of the cast (18 – representing 14 ethnicities) and the generous use of Indian music and dance to color the story. Mountains Made for Us is not a musical, but it is set in a dance studio and Mini’s students (fast learners) are on hand at all times to lend some flair to a scene.

Lindblom welcomed a lot of raw talent onto the stage. Reading the cast bios in the program is to wonder at how she found all of these people and to be amazed by their stories. What they may lack in stage experience is more than made up for by enthusiasm and the long hours of rehearsal apparent in their performances. They’re all just lovely and beaming — a joy to watch.

As Lindblom told me in our podcast interview, there would be some rough edges given her push to be inclusi