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Original Chinese musical breaks new ground

"The Long River," an original Chinese production with music composed by Chris Babida, will premiere on December 12, 2008 at the Shanghai Grand Theater.


Famous Chinese author and scholar Yu Qiuyu and Hong Kong film maker Stanley Kwan finally realized a long cherished dream when they created a musical.

And tonight "The Long River," an original Chinese production with music composed by Chris Babida, will premiere at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

Yu's idea of the musical began a couple of years ago after he saw the hit Huangmei Opera (a local opera genre in Anhui Province) version of "A Dream of Red Mansions."

"In China there are very few original musicals written for the stage," Yu says. "I hope to introduce the successful mode of Broadway classics and propel originality into the local music scene."

"The Long River" begins with an ice and snow disaster in ancient China before going through some major historical events as it centers around the different and unexpected experiences of people living along a river.

"The script is not complicated, just composed of many fragments of each character's own story," Yu says. "We hope to provide people insight into humanity. They can also reflect on what they didn't think of before such as the impact of women on men and how people face death and disasters."

The musical stars students from Shanghai Theater Academy and Shanghai Conservatory of Music, as well as Yu's wife Ma Lan, a well-known Huangmei Opera performer, trying her hand at something new.

"The musical will have a strong Chinese flavor," Ma says. "The characters have a typical Chinese way of expressing their thoughts and emotions."

Impressive scenes include a magnificent collective dance on the melting ice surface of the river, which displays the weird passions of people on the edge of death.

There is also a heartwarming scene in which a girl finds her missing father after a long and arduous journey.

According to Kwan, famous for romantic films such as "Rouge" and "Red Rose and White Rose," the musical got its inspiration from oriental philosophy and combines elements of contemporary pop music and traditional Chinese operas.

Though Kwan is still a newcomer to the musical genre, his ability to grasp even the tiniest emotional change in characters in his movies impressed Yu and brought about their collaboration.

"No matter whether it is a film or a stage production, cultures are connected and the feeling is mutual," Kwan adds.

 Source : Shanghai Daily  Editor: Dong Wenwen
· Original Chinese musical breaks new ground
· Original Chinese musical breaks new ground
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