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New Sound of Music coming to Chinese stage

2014-11-24 09:19 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
Scenes from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Sound of Music, which will tour China from late this month through January. Photo provided to China Daily

Scenes from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Sound of Music, which will tour China from late this month through January. Photo provided to China Daily

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber first tested the waters for musicals in the Chinese market by staging two concerts at the Great Hall of the People in September 2001, including many hits from his internationally acclaimed productions such as Cats and The Phantom of The Opera. The concerts endeared Chinese critics and audiences to musicals. More Webber musicals came to China in the following decade.

One of Webber's musical productions, The Sound of Music, will tour China from late this month through January, visiting Qingdao, Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing.

Coproducer David Ian says it will be the China debut for the UK production of the musical. First opened at the London Palladium in 2006, it ran in London for two years and then toured the United Kingdom for another two years.

"Everyone we have spoken to in China assures us that the story is very well-known and loved there. The Sound of Music is based on a classic, true story, with a wonderful score, adorable children and timeless family values. It's the perfect musical for a global audience," he says.

Ian says he and Webber have always loved this musical.

"We actually sat in rehearsals as children, watching the original London production at The Palace Theater," says Ian, who also produced the UK tours of Cats and Evita.

Around a year ago, Li Hui, CEO of Rock Forward Entertainment Company, began the push to bring the musical production to China—the first musical project for a company known for producing rock concerts.

Li recalls that in the 1970s, The Sound of Music film was screened in China. The Oscar-winning film, released by Twentieth Century Fox in 1964, was very popular among Chinese audiences—especially its songs, such as Do-Re-Mi and Edelweiss.

He notes that the Broadway production of The Sound of Music toured China in 2008, but he says that he is impressed by Webber's revival.

Before composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein premiered The Sound of Music on Broadway in 1959, then 10-year-old Webber wrote a fan letter to Rogers. He not only got a reply but also got to see a dress rehearsal of The Sound of Music and got a ticket in the upper circle for the opening.

Adapted from the book, The Trapp Family Singers, which was written by Maria Von Trapp about her real-life experiences and published in 1949, the musical was a big success, running for more than 1,000 performances and winning six Tony Awards.

"I have for years wanted to produce The Sound of Music myself. The theater show is wonderfully crafted and I have always wanted to see the show cast with a young Maria, who you really do believe climbs a tree and scrapes her knees," wrote Webber about his production in November 2006.

Webber and Ian discovered the perfect Maria in Connie Fisher, a Northern Irish-born Welsh actress and singer, who won the BBC One talent contest by singing How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? in 2006.

Webber followed the original theater script with a few changes, such as adding the song, I Have Confidence in Me from the film and substituting the song An Ordinary Couple with Something Good that Richard Rodgers wrote for the movie.

"Even if you have watched the movie's DVD at home a hundred times, you could never gain the same exciting experience as in the theater, which is so energetic and interactive," Li says.

If you go

7:30 pm, Dec 10-21. Beijing Exhibition Theater, 135 Xizhimenwai Dajie (Street), Xicheng district, Beijing. 400-610-3721.

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