xi's moments

Showbiz is booming in live entertainment hub

By ZHANG KUN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-22 08:11

School of Rock, the latest musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is on tour in China for the first time. After four weeks of performances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre starting on Friday, the show will head on for three weeks at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

There were 351 musicals staged in 45 theaters across Shanghai between January and August 2018, accounting for about 7.4 percent of the total number of live performances in the city, according to an annual report by Shanghai Culture Square. These musicals were viewed by 323,000 people and generated more than 50.8 million yuan ($7.5 million) in sales, a significant 166 percent higher than in the same period the previous year.

According to a survey by China's performing trade association, the live entertainment sector has been growing steadily every year, with the theater category taking up about 40 percent of the market.

This success has in turn encouraged more musical productions to be shown in Shanghai. According to the performing schedules of major theaters in the city, 2019 will again see a large number of musical shows.

"We used to view Tokyo and Seoul as the benchmarks of the musical market in Asia, but in this latest Asian tour of Chicago in 2018, the production was in Japan for no more than four weeks and South Korea for two weeks-the combined time spent in these nations was still shorter than the tour of the Chinese mainland," says Ma Chencheng, deputy president of SMG Live, which hosted a 16-week performance of Chicago in 10 cities in China in 2018. "China is now a very big and important market for live performances in the world."

Ma added that Chicago will again tour China in 2019, and SMG Live will present an unprecedented tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous musical The Phantom of the Opera in 2020. SMG Live is also known for being the company that brought Sleep No More, an immersive play adapted from the Shakespearean classic Macbeth, to Shanghai

School of Rock, the latest musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is on tour in China for the first time. After four weeks of performances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre starting on Friday, the show will head on for three weeks at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Since 2002, when the Shanghai Grand Theatre presented Les Miserables, the first original Western musical production to debut in China, Shanghai has grown to become China's largest and strongest market for musicals. This year, SMG Live will take Webber's School of Rock on its first China tour. The musical will be staged at the Shanghai Grand Theater for four weeks starting on Friday. Based on the 2003 film of the same title, School of Rock premiered on Broadway in 2015.

"School of Rock will challenge people's perception of Webber, who is widely recognized for masterpiece musicals in the 1980s such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera," says Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of the Shanghai Grand Theatre. This new musical will feature a music style that is completely different from his previous creations, as well as an unprecedented cast consisting mainly of teenagers.

"Good shows don't target particular groups of audiences. Everybody will find it relevant and be touched. We want everybody to understand that musicals are relevant to our time and lives. We want to reach younger groups of people, so we have reached dozens of middle schools in Shanghai to introduce musicals and School of Rock," she added.a

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