Theater to be built at Terracotta Warriors site

Updated: 2013-08-31 03:03

By CAROLINE BERG in New York (China Daily)

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Two global entertainment companies, one in New York and the other in China, plan to build a world-class, state-of-the-art theater adjacent to the Terracotta Warriors exhibition in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

The 22,000-square-meter, 2,000-seat venue, with an enormous LED stage screen, will be one of China's largest destination theaters, according to the project's partners, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment and Shaanxi Qinhuang Grand Theater Performing Arts Co. It will cost more than $61 million.

Theater to be built at Terracotta Warriors site

Cast members of The Legend of Emperor Qin pose for photos on Wednesday in New York's Minskoff Theater on Broadway. [Caroline Berg / China Daily]

A new show is being made for its inaugural performance, The Legend of Emperor Qin, which will premiere in spring 2014 and be performed daily year-round.

This will be the world's first stage production depicting the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), and will use grand-scale dance numbers, and dramatic costumes, lighting and design elements in telling the epic tale.

The Terracotta Warriors are a collection of sculptures of the armies of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, discovered in 1974 by farmers, is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC to protect him in the afterlife.

From three excavated pits, the terracotta army is estimated to consist of more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. Figures found in other pits include government officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.

"There are so many reasons to be excited about this theater and The Legend of Emperor Qin," said Robert Nederlander Jr, president and CEO of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, at a press conference on Tuesday to announce the venture.

"It's the kind of entertainment that we expect to run for years and will enhance the appreciation and enjoyment of all that visit Xi'an and the Terracotta Warriors."

The show will be presented by the Shaanxi Qinhuang Grand Theater Performing Arts Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shaanxi Miracle Achievements Development Co. Nederlander Worldwide serves as the theater's managing partner and executive producer of the show.

Yong Wang, president of Shaanxi Miracle Achievements, which specializes in large-scale tourist and cultural real estate development, said he has worked with Nederlander Worldwide over the past three years to complete the production's management model.

"A top-notch theater calls for top-notch management," Wang said at the press conference. "We believe that with a first-class show in a first-class theater, we're going to make (this venture) a success and a valuable addition to the Terracotta Warrior brand."

Nederlander Worldwide was founded to manage theaters and present Broadway productions in emerging international markets, produce international shows for Broadway and abroad, and undertake cultural educational initiatives.

In 2005, it established the first foreign joint venture in the Chinese performance industry. It jointly manages theaters in Shanghai, and Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and is developing productions of Broadway shows in Chinese.

Its productions, including 42nd Street, West Side Story, Aida, Fame and Luma, have toured in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Wuhan, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hefei, Hohhot, Nanning, Xiamen, Fuzhou and Chengde.

Nederlander Worldwide also established the "China on Broadway" initiative. Its Soul of Shaolin, the first production from China to appear on Broadway, received a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations. The company helped bring The Dream of the Red Chamber to the Lincoln Center as a formal cultural-exchange gift from the city of Shanghai to New York.