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A world-renowned performer wants to help shape cosmopolitan Shanghai's modern musical theater. Robert Vicencio, perhaps best known for his role as General Thuy in Broadway's smash hit Miss Saigon, came to China with hopes of developing a mainstream appetite for modern musical theater.

"Like any industry or company in the world, China is a destination that has boundless opportunities and possibilities," says Vicencio. "Musical theater is no different."

"I want to build up a musical theater world here in Shanghai," Vicencio says.

The 31-year-old Filipino-Australian, who brings both onstage and backstage international experience to China, as a performer, producer and director, has helped raise the profile of musical theater in Shanghai since moving to the metropolis three years ago.

In 2005, Vicencio made his musical debut in Shanghai with Robert Vicencio and Friends. The show featured popular Western classics, including songs from Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Cats, performed together with senior students from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Last May, Vicencio launched the first master class workshop for musical theater in Shanghai. The session, titled Sharing the West End with Shanghai, was in collaboration with Jazz du Funk, the city's first international dance academy.

"I established this musical workshop, which was a one-off event, to give the locals and expat communities the chance to join together in one room and explore and learn the wonders of musical theater," Vicencio says. "With a young local knowledge of this industry, a certain amount of education on musical theater is still required to grasp the full appreciation of this musical culture."

"My goal would be to bring more Western musical stars to Shanghai to share their experiences," says Vicencio. "It would be great to build a bridge between West End, Broadway and Shanghai."

Last year, Vicencio also co-produced, co-directed and starred in the Hong Kong run of Musical Moments, a compilation of well-known Western musical classics.

"We hope to bring this show to Shanghai, either at the end of this year or next year, which will display a deeper insight into musical theater for the Shanghai locals," says Vicencio.

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