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Curtain Lifts on Les Miz

The curtain rises Saturday night on the first full-scale Broadway musical to be staged in Shanghai, as Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Les Miserables" kicks off a run of 21 shows at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

At a cost of 15 million yuan (US$1.8 million), the show is clearly one of the most expensive to produce in local history, but producers say they are sure their sojourn to China will be a success.

More than 92 percent of the 32,529 tickets available have been sold for prices ranging from 80 yuan to 1,500 yuan, according to Le Shengli, president of the theater, which is financing the show.

"Chinese audiences are very familiar with the story through books and films, so they are able to enjoy the show fully," said Le when announcing its plan to stage the show at a news conference earlier this year. "We were never worried about its marketing."

The show's producer, Cameron Mackintosh, thinks this short run is just the start for Les Miz and other big musicals in China.

"Les Miz began to be per-formed in Japan 14 years ago and has become a standing show there. It likewise happened in Mexico and Australia," said Mackintosh. "As it has been transplanted in different countries with more than 30 languages, we're expecting to see that China can do this some day in the future."

The decision to stage such a grand-scale musical in Shanghai was made after a number of years of negotiation and research, said Mackintosh.

Producer of a dozen successful productions such as "Cats," "Miss Siagon" and "Phantom of the Opera," Mackintosh said he decides whether to produce a musical based on its story. "The story must be classical - that's key to a successful musical."

He also says it's important to bring in newcomers for important roles in the show, instead of relying solely on big-name actors.

"We have a great amount of talented people, and keep the tradition of finding new fresh talents for our productions," he said. "It helps to maintain the life of a good show, and avoid the embarrassment that may rise from the retirement of any star actors."

Sunday, the production team will attempt to select a local girl to join the cast here.

Schedule for "Les Miserables"

Time: 7:15 p.m., June 22

Tickets: 200-1200 yuan

Time: 7:15 p.m., June 23-25, 27, 30

Tickets: 100-1200 yuan

Time: 7:15 p.m., June 28-29, July 5-6

Tickets: 120-1500 yuan

Time: 1:30 p.m., June 22-23, 29-30, July 4, 6-7,

Tickets: 80-380 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave.

Tel: 6372-8702

(eastday.com June 22, 2002)

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