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The phantom of the opera is here (well … he will be in July)

By ZHANG KUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-15 08:11
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Stage scenes from the Phantom of the Opera. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Phantom of the Opera, one of the most popular theatrical shows ever, will kick off a new international tour in China later this year, starting at the Bay Opera of Shenzhen in Guangdong province on July 2.

Produced by SMG Live, the live entertainment arm of Shanghai Media Group, in collaboration with Crossroads Live and Webber's Really Useful Group, or RUG, the China tour will travel to another six cities: Xi'an of Shaanxi province, Shanghai, Suzhou of Jiangsu province, Chengdu of Sichuan province, Beijing and a final destination that is yet to be announced.

Ticket sales for the Shenzhen performances, from July 2 to Aug 4, and the Shanghai performances, at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, from Aug 27 to Oct 13, began on Thursday.

The show, often referred to simply as Phantom, has toured 193 cities in 46 countries since its premiere in the United Kingdom in 1986. In 2004 the production made its first tour of China, and played a record-breaking 100 shows at the Shanghai theater. From 2013 to 2015, the show toured again, visiting Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Phantom is a show of special significance in the history of musical theater, says Ma Chencheng, president of SMG Live.

"In many countries all over the world, the development of musicals started from the show of Phantom, and in China, it nurtured wide public interest in the genre, and many lovers of musicals later joined in the industry," Ma says.

Over recent decades, Phantom has led the way in the growth and prosperity of the market for musicals in China, says Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of the Shanghai theater.

"Shanghai has become a most important center in China for the performance and production of musicals," she says.

Ma says the upcoming tour will take Phantom to five new cities in China.

"Every time Phantom is performed in China, it inspires new love for not only musicals, but also the whole live theater industry," he says. "We hope this tour will introduce new audiences to musicals, and maybe attract more people to join the industry and further develop the production of original Chinese musicals."

The world-acclaimed show by Andrew Lloyd Webber will entertain audiences in six Chinese cities starting from July. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 2018, the Shanghai media group and RUG jointly announced the Phantom China project, aiming at propelling the development of China's musical theater industry through a series of initiatives to nurture talent, cultivate the market and promote productions.

In May 2023, the Chinese version of Phantom was premiered at the Shanghai theater, the 18th language adaptation for the show. The Chinese production toured nine cities with 159 shows drawing box-office receipts totaling more than 150 million yuan ($20.87 million), says Ma.

In September, the sequel to Phantom, Love Never Dies was the opening show at the new AIA Grand Theatre in Shanghai, and went on a tour of 18 Chinese cities.

The new touring production will star Jonathan Roxmouth, the youngest actor to take on the eponymous role in an original English touring production. As part of both the 2012 and 2019 world tours, Phantom took him to the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Israel, Dubai and South Korea.

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