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King of Chinese Pop Plans New Musical Venture

Hong Kong heartthrob Andy Lau, one of the four "heavenly kings" of Chinese pop music, hopes to team up with the master of musicals Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to make an Oriental extravaganza.

"I've talked with Andrew Lloyd Webber about it," says Lau, who at 39 combines singing and acting -- and attracts legions of young female fans.

"He is to write the music and I am to write the lyrics," Lau told Reuters in an interview in the office of his production company.

A formal deal has yet to be concluded with Webber -- the man behind such global hits as "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" -- but Lau says that the musical will be performed in Mandarin (standard Chinese) and tour throughout Asia.

"Originally it was scheduled for August (this year). But that would put some pressure on me," says Lau, who declined to give details on the project.

"I still think I need some time to develop it. I don't think it will be staged until 2003 at the earliest."

In the meantime, Hong Kong's local boy made good has plenty to keep him busy.


Lau plans to kick off a concert tour in August, encompassing Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia, the United States, Canada and mainland China.

A crowd puller for both his saccharine sweet pop ballads and macho man movies, Lau has earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the artist with the highest number of awards, 292, for Cantonese pop music.

Cantonese is a southern Chinese dialect.

He started singing in 1988 and has also recorded songs in Mandarin, widening his appeal in mainland China and other Mandarin-speaking communities all over the world.

With his evergreen looks, a finely chiselled profile and an aquiline nose, Lau has bewitched millions of mostly female fans to earn a spot as one of the four "heavenly kings" of Canto Pop, alongside Leon Lai, Aaron Kwok and Jackie Cheung.

He has sold 20 million albums, 4.4 million in 1999 alone.

Lau, who got his first big break about 18 years ago playing a rookie cop in a hit television drama, is keeping his acting skills finely tuned, too.


He is now shooting "Full-Time Killer" with Japanese actor-singer Takashi Sorimachi. A story about two assassins, the film is expected to be completed in May and released in Hong Kong in August and in Japan around Christmas.

His last local hit film, "A Fighter's Blues" co-starring actress Takako Tokiwa, recently earned him Hong Kong's Golden Bauhinia best actor award and has seen him nominated for best actor in the Hong Kong Film Awards to be presented on April 29.

In the film, Lau plays a kickboxer who rebuilds his life after emerging from 12 years in jail to find his lover dead and his daughter in an orphanage.

"Competition is quite intense this year," Lau said, noting other nominees include Chow Yun-fat, the star of Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and Tony Leung, named best actor at last year's Cannes Film Festival for "In the Mood for Love".

"Every one of them has won the Best Actor award in the past. In comparison, we are less likely to win. But I think it's good to be nominated alongside such famous actors," Lau says.

"In some overseas markets, actors in 50s or 60s can still take the leading roles. There's no such room here. I don't know whether I can act till 60. I will act for as long as I can."

(China Daily 04/24/2001)

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