Inspired by the Jinsha Relics discovered in the outskirts of
Chengdu, the musical extravaganza, Jinsha, has been
playing to sell-out audiences since its first show at Beijing's
Poly Theater on April 8, 2005.
In Chengdu, the birthplace of Jinsha, the musical has
played to more than 150,000 people over 256 performances.
On April 15, Ye Dan, producer of the musical and the director of
the Jinsha International Theater at the Chengdu Art Center, spoke
exclusively with China.org.cn about the reasons behind the growing
interest in Jinsha and future plans for the musical.
For one thing, the city of Chengdu has been working tirelessly
to promote and develop its travel industry. The recently concluded
2006 China Domestic Travel Mart was attended by 45,000 trade
visitors. The Jinsha booth was constantly crowded with
people and all tickets for shows were sold out.
"We had to add an extra performance to meet the demands of
guests from the travel mart." Ye said. "Jinsha is now not
only a musical, but also a new cultural phenomenon. We want to make
it one of the best."
A Jinsha performance is included in city tour packages
that take visitors to the Dujiangyan Dam, Jinsha Relics, Temple of Marquis Wu and the former residence
of esteemed poet Du Fu. "This is China's first cultural and musical
tour that Chengdu is trying to establish," Ye said.
Jinsha (which literally means "gold sand") was inspired
by the Jinsha Relics, which were excavated on February 8, 2001.
These relics, which were discovered in Jinsha Village on western
outskirts of Chengdu and believed to be a branch of profound Sanxingdui Relics in Guanghan, are of the Shang
and early Western Zhou dynasties, and are evidence that there was
civilization in Chengdu more than 3,000 years ago.
A Jinsha museum, which will house the relics and the musical, is
scheduled for opening later this year.
The musical, first conceived in March 2004, was the brainchild
of the Chengdu government. It was designed to be a modern-day
celebration of Chengdu's ancient civilization.
Tasked with putting the musical together, Ye and his team set
out to create a production that combined culture with showbiz
"We had three subjects to choose from at that time. They were
the Dujiangyan Dam, a historic figure Zhu Geliang from the Three
Kingdoms period (220-280), and the Jinsha. We finally decided on
the Jinsha which we thought could best represent the 3,100-year-old
Ancient Shu Kingdom civilization."
The production company, the Chengdu Jinsha Sunbird Performing
Arts Culture Co., Ltd, was established in 2004 with support from
the Chengdu Municipal Communist Party, Chengdu Municipal
Government, Chengdu Municipal Culture Bureau, Chengdu's TV and
radio stations and newspaper groups. As the company's first major
project, Jinsha cost 16 million yuan (US$1.99 million) to
To ensure top quality performances, producers employ the
Broadway model when recruiting talent. Artists of the highest
caliber from all over the country, including songwriter San Bao and
playwright Guan Shan, were handpicked to put the show together.
San Bao, the general director and composer of the show, wrote
the musical scores for famed movies such as Not One Less
and The Road Home by Zhang Yimou, and popular TV-series
such as The Story of A Noble Family by Liu Guoquan. When
asked what attracted him to work on Jinsha, he said that Chengdu's
culture and the Ancient Shu civilization have always fascinated
"And I want to do a great musical in China; that's why I'm
here," he said. San Bao was so inspired by the project that he
composed 22 melodies in less than three months, setting up the
framework for the musical.
The musical tells the story of the young archeologist, Sha, who
discovers the Jinsha Relics and is transported back in time, some
3,000 years, with the help of a genie to meet his pre-ordained
Critics such as Wen Shuo, the vice director of Musical Research
Center of Beijing Dance Academy, say that Jinsha, with its
grandiose acoustic and visual effects, is more a concert than a
musical because of its weak storytelling.
The original version was 120 minutes long, but has since been
cut down to 75 minutes. According to Ye, "This is to save the
"The abridged version is for tourists who might have busy travel
schedules. The 120-minute version will only be staged for
Ye added that there are big plans for Jinsha. Plans are
under way to take the show to the US, Germany and France.
"Several foreign agencies have contacted us, and we are
scheduled to perform in Los Angeles, Seattle and San Diego in the
second half of the year," he said. "What's more, we have decided to
expand our offering by producing CDs, DVDs, concerts, and
philharmonic performances. We'll make it China's best musical
(China.org.cn by Zhang Rui April 24, 2006)