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Show time in Shanghai

By Zhang Kun | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-25 07:22
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A new production of Beauty and Beast in Chinese premiered at the Walt Disney Grand Theatre in Shanghai on June 14. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"As an artist, I always want to keep pushing forward. You learn more each time you perform a show," he told China Daily in Shanghai. "This latest production has a better structure ... and the lighting and music are also much better than the last production, which ended six years ago."

Woolverton has been involved in the Chinese production from the very beginning. When the script was first translated into Chinese, she had asked for it to be translated back into English to ensure everything was correct. She made changes and offered suggestions to the director on how to improve the musical in a bid to guarantee the production remained true to her vision.

Both Woolverton and Roth were very much impressed with the ability of the Chinese actors, who she praised for being "spot-on and disciplined", and for giving "heartfelt and emotional" performances.

Roth said that it took them a while to find the Chinese actors, "because musical theater doesn't have such a long history here as it does in the US," he said. But once they started to work together he was surprised at "how quickly they understood the ideas," and he said their performances "more than matched Broadway in terms of quality".

"I wanted to create the show together with the actors, rather than just teach them how to do it," Roth said, adding that he was happy that the actors "brought their own ideas, which made the show so much better."

In contrast to The Lion King, which was a modern theatrical production, featuring fantastic puppetry and visual effects, Beauty and the Beast is an "old-fashioned Broadway show", consisting mainly of singing, dancing and comedy, Roth said. His opening-night nerves about the production soon faded when he saw how audiences responded to the performance with huge bouts of laughter and overwhelming applause. "I hope this play will usher in a wave of musical theater productions in China, and I hope it will make people want to see more Broadway shows in Chinese."

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