Culture\Music and Theater

Musical on Oz's famous witch is set for its China debut

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-23 07:50

The Broadway production The Wicked Witch of the West will debut in China this spring.

The musical, originally based on the powerful witch from the children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, will start its tour of the country in Shanghai on April 22.

It will hold 85 shows in different Chinese cities through June.

The tour has been organized by AC Orange International, an entertainment company involved in the coproduction of Broadway shows since 2015.

 Musical on Oz's famous witch is set for its China debut

The Broadway show The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is touring China, with a cast starring Jacqueline Hughes and Bradley Jaden. Photos Provided to China Daily

Lucy Lee, vice-president of the parent company AC Orange, says more contemporary musical productions will be brought in China in the coming years, because, like the luxury market, the market for musicals in China will allow audiences to choose from a wide variety of shows.

"I believe 2017 and 2018 will be great for the development of the musical industry in China," she says, adding that this year more musicals are expected to be seen in the country compared with last year.

US lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz adapted the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire for musical theater in 2003.

Since then the production has had more than 5,000 shows on Broadway and 4,000 at London's West End. It has been shown in more than 100 cities in 14 countries, winning international awards.

While the original tale in American author L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is about the adventures of a little girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz, Wicked turned the story to the perspective of the witch Elphaba.

Schwartz, 68, has had a career in musicals spanning 40 years. He has won three Grammy Awards, three Oscars and the Isabelle Stevenson Award, an honorary Tony Award.

Universal Pictures announced in June that the Wicked movie musical was "in the works" and scheduled to be released in 2019. Schwartz said during last year's San Diego Comic-Con that there will be at least three new numbers in the film. The film's cast has yet to be revealed.

The Broadway production's tour in China will feature Jacqueline Hughes, Bradley Jaden and Carly Anderson, who recently visited China for promotional events.

Musical on Oz's famous witch is set for its China debut

Hughes has played Elphaba in the first British tour production.

She describes her role as "confident, powerful, loyal and impulsive", and "that's what makes her attractive and beautiful".

In the play, Elphaba has to overcome obstacles, misunderstandings and injustice because of her unique green skin and unusual talent for sorcery.

Since 2015, AC Orange International has invested in six productions of Broadway shows, including American Psycho and Sunset Boulevard.

"On Broadway, we were hoping that when our investment reached a certain level, we would be able to initiate direct communication with lead producers and investing producers, and be involved in the whole producing process," says Lee.

"After some collaboration, we built a partnership with them. What China's musical industry needs the most is experience."

(China Daily 02/23/2017 page20)

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