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A tuneful family hits the stage again

Updated: 2023-12-08 08:13 ( CHINA DAILY )
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A scene from the production The Sound of Music. [PHOTO BY GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY]

The Sound of Music will travel to six Chinese cities during its 30-week tour, Zhang Kun reports.

One of the highest-grossing musicals of all time, The Sound of Music is currently embarking on a new tour of China.

Twenty-three shows are to be held at the Bocom New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center in Shanghai through Sunday before the production continues its 30-week tour of the country.

The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II has garnered multiple Tony, Grammy and Academy awards since its Broadway opening in 1959.

The show made its first China tour in 2004, when the 35 shows presented at Shanghai Grand Theatre generated a box-office revenue of 17 million yuan ($2.38 million).

A scene from the production The Sound of Music. [PHOTO BY GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY]

The Sound of Music is the first musical production to be performed at the Bocom New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center, which opened in July on the east bank of the Huangpu River.

"We hope the production can help introduce the new theater to the local community," says Zhao Chenlin, vice-president of Shanghai Media Group Live, one of the co-producers of the show in China.

The center has more than 2,000 seats and is equipped with the latest audio and visual presentation technologies. Zhao notes that it meets the growing demands of a quality performing arts venue in the Pudong area, as much of the theater and performing art resources in Shanghai are located to the west of the Huangpu River.

More than eight years have passed since the last tour of the original production of the musical in China. That tour, which took place from 2014 to 2015, included stops in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou in Guangdong province and Chongqing.

"We originally introduced the Broadway production of The Sound of Music in Shanghai in 2004 at the Shanghai Grand Theatre and we quickly learned that the Chinese audiences cherish these songs and this story," says Simone Genatt, chairperson and co-founder of Broadway Asia and Broadway International Group, the other co-producer of the tour.

"My career in China is intricately and forever tied to this Broadway musical. Over the past 20 years I have had the unique pleasure of bringing The Sound of Music on tour to over 70 cities across China and seeing the excitement and love of the Chinese audience."

The musical tells the story of a young novice working as a governess to the seven children of a widowed naval officer. The story was based on the 1949 memoir titled The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp. The musical opened on Broadway in 1959 and went on to win six Tony Awards.

Released in 1965, the movie adapted from the musical by Robert Wise was an instant hit with audiences all over the world.

"The songs in the movie, such as Do Re Mi, Edelweiss, and The Lonely Goatherd, have been massively popular with audiences in China over generations. Many of us would smile and sing along whenever we hear these songs played," says Zhao.

"The story about the strength of family resonates with all cultures," says Genatt. "I am always in awe when I hear audiences around the world laugh and celebrate with the Von Trapp children and silence themselves with quiet breath when the family is almost torn apart. These moments remind me why I love live theater so intensely. …This is a unique environment where we put aside our technology and come together to share the strength of the human spirit."

The current production, which is directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, has been on tour in North America for multiple seasons before being taken around the world. The Asian tour started in Singapore in November 2022.

"Over the past year, we have opened theaters across the world. It has been a fascinating journey, lighting the lights of various venues in each city, celebrating the Von Trapp story," says Genatt.

"We are reminded that it is through the beauty of culture we find a commonality and humanity that brings us all together."


The Sound of Music

・ 7:30 pm, Dec 8; 2 pm, Dec 9;10:30 am, 4 pm, Dec 10

BOCOM New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center, 777 Gaoqing Road West, Pudong New Area, Shanghai, 021-6391-5779.

・ Dec 13-18

Tianjin Grand Theatre — Opera House, 58 Pingjiang Street, Tianjin, 022-8388-2000.

・ Dec 22-26

Chengdu City Concert Hall — Opera Hall, No 45 on the first South Block, Yihuan Road, Chengdu, Sichuan province, 028-8125-8957.

・ Dec 31-Jan 6

Bay Opera of Shenzhen, 16 Huanle Gangwan, Baoxing Road, Bao'an district, Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

・ Jan 9-14

Hangzhou Grand Theatre, 39 Xinye Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, 0571-8685-5003.

・ Feb 28-Mar 2

Suzhou Arts and Culture Centre Grand Theatre, No 1 Guanfeng Street, Suzhou, Jiangsu province, 4008-288-299.

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