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Musical reimagining of Macbeth puts spotlight on Lady M

By ZHANG KUN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-08 09:09
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The cast of the musical Lady M at the kickoff of the production on Feb 26. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, by British musical theater partners James Beeny and Gina Georgio, will premiere at the MIFA 1862 Theater in Shanghai on May 9.

The production, which is called Lady M, is a landmark in the country's musical industry as the first English musical to be produced in China and premiered in Shanghai, according to Fei Yuanhong, deputy general manager of the Shanghai Culture Square.

Fei said at the news conference held to mark the opening of the production on Feb 26 that the Shanghai Culture Square first saw the new musical's potential two years ago, and invited it to be the first international project as part of its incubation program.

He says that the Shanghai Culture Square hopes the new production will integrate international resources and tap new potential, and help the theater's search for "healthy, creative models of musical production and facilitate the development of China's musical industry".

Lady M emphasizes a musical narrative. In a video message to the news conference, Beeny and Georgio say that it was their love of Macbeth that led them to create a back story for Lady Macbeth, to explain how she becomes the villain of Shakespeare's original play. Georgio summarized the core concepts of the musical as "loss, love, romance, and war".

Dutch actress Maya Hakvoort will play the title character of Lady M. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Directed by Xu Jun, director of Chinese musicals such as The Orphan of Zhao and an adaptation of Hamlet, the new production stars Dutch singer Maya Hakvoort in the title role. Karl Queensborough, lead actor in the West End version of Hamilton, will play Macbeth, while British actors Richard Carson and Tom Hier will play the roles of Macduff, and Banquo respectively.

Queensborough says in a video message that he had been involved in workshops and recording sessions for the show in the United Kingdom. He says that Lady M is a unique production where "you have the traditional Shakespearean Macbeth on the stage, but it also transforms the story, a bold and intense love story about betrayal, bravery, suspicion, and friendship" and that when he heard the musical he was "absolutely blown away and wanted to be part of it".

Hakvoort, a veteran singer best known for the German production of Elisabeth, performed a song from the show, What Must Be Done, at the conference. Hakvoort says that she is thrilled to take on the new role and explore the dark character of Lady Macbeth.

Hakvoort first visited Shanghai in 2014. She has built close ties with the Shanghai Culture Square and is happy to be working with Xu and an international creative team.

The new production will be presented in an immersive setting instead of on a traditional stage, Xu says. "The audience will be able to observe different sides of the character, and see the show from different angles." 

Chinese director Xu Jun will direct the new production. [Photo provided to China Daily]
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