The original Chinese musical Butterflies will fly back to Beijing this weekend with four shows at the Tianqiao Theater.
Though its premiere in Beijing in September 2007 failed to wow audiences, producer Li Dun did not give up and invited veteran Chinese-American director Lei Guohua to revise it.
"The old version is a bold experiment combining a Chinese story and the Western musical form. But there were small problems. The relationship among some characters was vague. The plot lacked good drama," says Lei.
"In the new version, the focus is on the love between Liang and Zhu, which makes the story more intense. The show has been cut to two hours, half an hour shorter than the original," she continues.
Carl Pasbjerg, president of the Broadway theater management One Viking Productions, watched the rehearsals late last month and says he is impressed with the quality and professionalism of the show.
"It is a show from the heart. The story speaks human emotions. I believe both Western and Eastern audiences will appreciate it," says Pasbjerg, who will collaborate with the Chinese production company Song Lei Culture & Media Communications to arrange its tour to Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, the US, Canada, Britain and France next year.
Based on the Butterfly Lovers (Liang Zhu), perhaps the most well-known Chinese love story in the world, the musical is a contemporary interpretation of the legend called a Chinese Romeo and Juliet.
The leading male character, Liang Shanbo, is a young vagabond poet, while the leading female character Zhu Yingtai is a proud beauty full of dreams.
Zhu is not human, however, but one of the cursed "Butterfly People". Their release from the curse will come only when Zhu, the most beautiful butterfly, marries a human being at the World's Terminus.
On Zhu's wedding day, Liang and the bride fall in love at first sight and elope. But they are captured by the fierce Butterfly People. When the two are about to be executed, they soar up to the skies in flames and become a pair of free, beautiful butterfly lovers.
The 60-million-yuan ($8.12 million) production features a world-class production team. It includes international experts, such as director Wayne Fowkes, choreographer Darren Charles, lighting designer Alain Lortie and video designer Olivier Goulet.
7:30 pm Oct 11 -14
-21 Beiweilu Street, Xuanwu district
(China Daily 10/10/2008 page20)