Musical theater on the rise in China

By Zhang Lulu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 30, 2017
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Chinese version of the Broadway musical "Jekyll and Hyde" [Photo courtesy CC Live] 

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Though "Jekyll & Hyde" is a Broadway classic, cast and crew of the Chinese adaptation said they saw ways the original production could be improved upon.

Zhang Huifang, the 21-year-old who plays Jekyll's gentle, loving fiancée Emma, said her presentation in the original production was too meek and lacked the womanly charm that Zhang believed Emma should have. "It's not like Broadway is the highest standard in musicals," she argued.

Liu also challenged the notion of taking Broadway as the aesthetic standard-bearer in the world of musicals, arguing that the Broadway brand does not necessarily equate the highest quality, and each production or performance should be judged individually.

On her part as assistant director of the production, Zhou said the original "Jekyll and Hyde" had a rushed ending and the entangled relationships in it were not resolved in satisfying ways.

Whatever their gripes with the Broadway show, homegrown productions still have ways to catch up in terms of popularity with the Chinese audience. In 2015, half of all the ticket revenue for theater shows in Beijing was contributed by the imported classic "The Phantom of the Opera."

Zhou said both Chinese stage performers and production crew still have much to learn from their Western counterparts, ranging from stage presentation and actor management to composing, directing and marketing.

Still, she is hopeful that original Chinese musicals will catch up one day, though that may take a long time. "For musicals to really take root in China, we need to find things that are relatable to the Chinese cultural environment," Zhou said.

"We need to tell the stories of our own, stories that convey the voice of the people here in China that should be heard. We need to be confident about our own culture."

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