Making music

(Shanghai Star) | Feb 03, 2015


Scenes from the Tale of Guoyun Lou, that tells the story of an important Chinese library. It will be staged on Mar 20, 21. [Photo provided to Shanghai Star]

Original Chinese musicals are key to the genre's long term viability in the local market, and a festival at Shanghai Culture Square is hoping to unearth homegrown talents. Zhang Kun reports.

Having presented dozens of foreign musicals in recent years, Shanghai Culture Square is making great efforts to introduce original Chinese musicals.

In March, four new Chinese musicals will be staged at the theater. This is the fourth year Shanghai Culture Square has hosted the festival of original Chinese musicals.

"China's musical industry ultimately will produce successful original plays," says Fei Yuanhong, program director of Shanghai Culture Square. "The industry won't be sustainable if original Chinese musicals are not developed.

"That is why we need to provide our stage for these new plays, and introduce them to the audience."

More importantly, a growing amount of investment is being poured into the making of Chinese stories told through the musical. Fei and his colleagues have witnessed much improved quality in the Chinese musicals staged at the theater.

The festival will open on Mar 14 with the performance of Peach Blossoms Again. The play, created by the Songs and Dances Theater of Suzhou of Jiangsu province, tells the story of an artist's family in Taohua Wu (Peach Blossom Dock), an ancient town famous for its traditional print art.

The rich cultural heritage of the area will be the greatest highlight, says Xie Shouxian, director of the theater. This is the first musical production from his company.

"We have given 100 shows in the past two years, and changes are constantly made to improve the production. I feel like a student taking a big examination, presenting the show in Shanghai."

The Tale of Guoyun Lou, composed by Jin Fuzai, is also set in Suzhou. Jin was the first director at the musical department of Shanghai Theater Academy and he was given the story for the subject of a musical.

Guoyun Lou (the building of passing clouds) is an important library, with very valuable ancient books among its collection.

The musical will tell the story of the building and the antique books in it, focusing on the events of the past century, especially World War II, when the building was almost destroyed by gun powder, and the ancient books ransacked by the Japanese soldiers.

"I made use of the local music, borrowing from pingtan and Kunqu," Jin says. "My ambition is to feature China's folk music, especially the gentle music styles of the local area."


Scenes from Peach Blossoms Again. Original Chinese musicals are featured at Shanghai Culture Square in March. [Photo provided to Shanghai Star]

Also to be presented is The Wonderful Adventures of Nils from the People's Art Theater of Wuhan of Hubei province. The play is based on the fictional story by Swedish author Selma Lagerlof, featuring an international production team whose members have worked on highly acclaimed musicals such as Les Miserable.

Ten Years of No Tear Drop from the Taiyuan Culture, Radio and TV Group of Shanxi province is the only musical that tells a realistic story. Liang Qing, the producer says the play was inspired by a pop song of the same title by Wang Feng. "It's about dreams, struggles, youth and a life condition that's worth remembering," Liang says.


Peach Blossoms Again

7:15 pm, Mar 14

The Tale of Guoyun Lou

7:15 pm, Mar 20, 21

Ten Years of No Tear Drop

7:15 pm, Mar 24

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

7:15 pm, Mar 27-28

Shanghai Culture Square, 597 Fuxing Road Middle, Xuhui district, 021-6472-6000

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