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China Daily Website

Monkey around

Updated: 2013-11-21 01:14
By Chen Jie ( China Daily)

Monkey around

 The cast of Monkey King respond to the audience's applause.

He says the musical was not invented by the Americans. Europeans brought the art form to America and they first copied, changed and finally made up their own. China now is on the same course. The foreign influence comes in and the local team works together to learn from them.

China has tried to stage Chinese versions of Cats and Mama Mia, which is useful and helpful in moving the form forward because the first step is copy, the second step is change and the final step is create the original Chinese musical.

"I personally don't think there will be a musical theater industry until they tell Chinese stories in the Chinese way to Chinese people, in the Chinese language. In the 1800s, Britain ruled the world, Britain exported its culture all over the world. Then in the 1900s, America exported its movies, jazz music and Broadway musicals. And now this is the 21st century, this could be China's century, China will do the same thing, exporting its culture.

"China has exported acrobatics, kung fu, Peking Opera, dance — but none of those things tells stories that the West can understand. If I see a Peking Opera, it's too stuck-in-the-culture, you have to know who the characters are, what they stand for, the history and the background, among other things. But the musical is international. I can enjoy a South Korean musical or a Japanese musical."

Meanwhile, China does not yet have a market to support long-running musicals in a theater.

In West End London and Broadway, you can rent a theater for a musical and if your shows succeed, you can stay there for 10 years. The investment is too high and you won't be able to make money in two weeks. The solution is to tour. Shows can tour in China, that's how Japan started 30 years ago.

Stimac also wants to do a musical about the Song family.

"I came upon a book about Song's three sisters. Who can believe such things, that one (the youngest Madame Chiang Soong Mei-ling) married Chiang Kai-shek, one (Soong Ching Ling) married Sun Yat-sen and another (the oldest, Soong Ai-ling) married Kung Hsiang-hsi (the Nationalist financial minister). That's Les Miserables in China. Someday that story must be told in a big epic opera."

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