The highly anticipated CCTV spring festival gala has completed its fourth rehearsal. With the big night now just days away, last minute changes are still being made to the program.
With some performances eliminated after the first three rehearsals, these actors and actresses outside the studio is another step closer to their dream of performing on the Spring Festival gala's stage. By making it to the fourth rehearsal, they are likely to survive the final cut. There are some troupes which have performed at the gala several times before, such as this martial art performing troupe, but for the majority, Sunday night's show will be their debut on this stage.
A performer from Sichuan said, "I play a panda in a mini drama. It's my first time attending the gala. I'm very excited. It's an honor to perform on this stage and represent our local troupe."
The fourth rehearsal saw some adjustments made to the program. A cross-talk sketch centering on the two pandas sent to Taiwan by China's central government has been added to the line up. It's performed by cross-talkers from both sides of the strait, along with hostess Dong Qing. That will be followed by a costume show called "Forest DA CE PARTY", starring a group dressed as pandas.
The highlight still belongs to Zhao Benshan, whose comic sketches are a central part of every spring festival gala. This time the comedian will not perform alongside Song Dandan, his long-time comic partner at the gala, but will introduce some new buddies.
Comedian Zhao Benshan said, "This year's short sketch features new performers and a slightly new format."
In one sketch, Zhao teams up with his apprentice "Xiao Shen Yang", and CCTV host Bi Fujian, to tell a hilarious story about an old man who brings his grand daughter to meet the director of a popular CCTV program. His hope is that the director can help the girl become a big star.
"Xiao Shen Yang" also starred in Zhao Benshan's TV series "Love Stories of My Village", and gained quite a following for his role. Coincidentally, the lead actress of "Love Stories of My Village" Wang Yabin will also perform in the gala, as a dancer in a group dance.
Dancer and actress Wang Yabin said, "It's all thanks to the TV series that I've become known by viewers. Actually I was a dancer before I played that role in the series. It's not my first time attending the spring festival gala as a dancer, but I still like the stage. Each year we will have a brand new dance with totally different styles."
One of the hosts of the gala Bai Yansong told us, that even though its the fourth rehearsal, there's still quite a few central secrets that haven't been revealed, including many of his lines. Two other big draws have yet to appear at the rehearsals, the Hong Kong and Taiwan pop stars who are hugely popular with youngsters and a world renowned performing troupe. You can bet the whole lineup won't be fully revealed until the eve of the lunar New Year when the gala will be finally broadcast.
(CCTV January 21, 2009)