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Show time in Shanghai

By Zhang Kun | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-25 07:22
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The Shanghai Media Group Live and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Relly Useful Group launch their Phantom China Project, which includes the production of The Phantom of the Opera in Chinese. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Earlier this month on June 7, the Shanghai Media Group Live and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group held a news conference at the Shanghai Grand Theatre announcing the launch of their Phantom China Project.

The project consists of a series of plans, starting with "the largest scale China tour" of The Phantom of the Opera in 2020, a reality show to find musical talent in China, as well as the production of The Phantom of the Opera in Chinese.

Webber was in New York to accept a lifetime achievement prize at the Tony Awards, and was therefore unable to attend the event in Shanghai.

Instead Sarah Brightman, the British star soprano and original star who played Christine in the first production of Phantom, joined the news conference, and shared the story of how her career took off with the musical. "I hope Phantom will continue to launch careers in China, and whoever wins the talent show will not only have the opportunity to play in the Chinese version, they will be rewarded in ways they couldn't imagine," she said. Brightman will be one of the talent show judges, which will undertake a nationwide search for an actor to play the lead role in the Chinese production of Phantom. A TV production about the talent show will be broadcast in 2020.

The collaboration between SMG Live and RUG began last year, with the two hosting a series of training programs for musical talent in Shanghai last November, when professional musical actors and aspiring young students spent 20 days training with experienced tutors from London.

Later this month, the second installment of the programs will take place again in Shanghai.

The first joint production between SMG Live and RUG was Webber's Chinese version of Tell Me On A Sunday, which was performed at the Majestic Theatre in Shanghai from June 8-16.

Jessica Koravos, president of RUG, said that the production "marks an exciting cross-pollination of skills and resources between the UK and China to grow the global industry."

"This project has nurtured cooperation across every discipline - script and lyric writing, stagecraft and technical work, marketing, creative development, musicianship and performance, and costume design - it's been exciting to collaborate with Chinese designers," Koravos said.

The first Andrew Lloyd Webber musical to be performed in Shanghai was Cats in 2003, when it ran for 53 shows at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, said Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of the SGT. In 2004, the Phantom of the Opera made history at the theater by making 100 consecutive full-house performances. "The record is still waiting to be broken, and hopefully with the combined efforts of SMG Live and RUG, we will make that happen," Zhang said.

Webber's latest musical creation, School of Rock, will tour China in 2019, with its opening performance scheduled to take place at the Shanghai Grand Theatre next February.

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