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5 original Chinese musicals to be staged in Shanghai

Time:2017-12-18   Source:chinadaily.com.cn

As part of efforts to promote local musicals, five original Chinese productions will be showcased during the SAIC Shanghai Culture Square's 2018 season from Feb 24 to March 25.

The five musicals are The Master, My Dear Next Door, The Rainbow of Time, The Gift of the Magi and Long Johns and Rolling Pin.

SAIC Shanghai Culture Square has been showcasing original Chinese musicals since 2012. Over the past six years, the theater has staged 24 original Chinese musicals to more than 70,000 people.

Fei Yuanhong, the program director of the theater, said that original local musicals are expected to become more popular as they attain a new level of maturity.

He explained that this is because an increasing number of people today are demanding spiritual and cultural experiences, a result of having attained wealth following China’s rapid economic growth.

In 2012, the theater staged its first original musical Duan Qiao, but that was the only production that made it to the stage that year as Shanghai Culture Square had only a small number of musicals to pick from.

"We tried our best to invite original musicals to play there, but only Duan Qiao came," said Fei.

However, the situation improved and the theater soon found itself with a lot more local musicals to choose from.

The five original musicals for the 2018 season were selected from a pool of 10.

Apart from the increase in number of musicals, the content has also become more diverse than before, said Fei.

The 2018 season will also be the first time that a musical in the Minnan dialect (My Dear Next Door) will be staged.

Set in a period spanning the 1950s and '60s, the story is about a friendship between two boys from Yilan county in Taiwan and how it changes over time. My Dear Next Door premiered in Taipei in 2009.

Speaking about My Dear Next Door, its scriptwriter Yang Zhongheng said: "In the beginning, people were urging us to follow the Broadway style but we chose to go in the opposite direction and use our own local language to tell the story."

Yang added that the decision to adopt a local approach resulted in an unexpected slew of good reviews from experts.

Other productions that have adopted a local flavor to appeal to Chinese audiences are The Master and Long Johns and Rolling Pin. The latter is a story about a girl from a small town whose relationship with her parents becomes strained as she struggles to achieve her dream of becoming a dancer. The musical premiered in Beijing in October and had eight shows in two weeks.

Zhang Wenxiao, the director of both Long Johns and Rolling Pin, said: "I know of many Chinese girls who are in similar situations as the protagonist. Their parents do not agree with them leaving their hometowns because they think it is difficult to survive in a metropolis."

Fan Chong, the director of The Master, said that while Chinese theaters need to focus on producing original musicals with local content that audiences can easily relate to, they should also improve their techniques by learning from their Broadway counterparts.

The other musicals in the 2018 season are adapted from Western literature. The Gift of the Magi is adapted from the short story of the same title by O. Henry, also known as William Sydney Porter, while The Rainbow of Time is adapted from the picture book by famous graphic novelist Jimmy from Taiwan.