Kung Fu Hero musical will feature local performers

Updated: 2014-09-10 06:18

By MAY ZHOU in Houston(China Daily USA)

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<EM>Kung Fu Hero</EM> musical will feature local performers

Yang Song (left), Chinese Consul for cultural affairs in Houston, joins Burton Wolfe, president and artistic director of Worldwide Stage, Inc., at a news conference on Tuesday in Houston announcing the performance of the bilingual musical Kung Fu Hero later this month. MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

A Broadway-themed musical based on a legendary Chinese kung fu master, will be performed for free in Mandarin and English in Houston at the Miller Outdoor Theatre on Sept 20 and 21.

The musical Kung Fu Hero will feature local talent and include colorful costumes, spectacular martial arts scenes and stunning choreography, according to Burton Wolfe, president and artistic director of Worldwide Stage, Inc., a non-profit entertainment organization based in Richmond, Texas.

The musical is based on legendary kungfu hero Fong Sai Yuk from Guangdong who was portrayed by actor Jet Li in a 1993 Hong Kong film. Wolfe wrote the lyrics for the show while the music and orchestration were created by Scott Gehman, a professor at Houston Community College. Parts of the lyrics were translated into Chinese by Lawrence Wong, director of operations for Worldwide Stage.

Wolfe, who last year created the bilingual musical The Legend of Yin and Yang that was well-received in both the US and China, said: "I was told that I was Chinese in my past life. I love Chinese culture and I studied feng shui and Taoism, and this program just comes to me naturally."

In making the musical bilingual, Wolfe said that Chinese and Americans will be able to understand it easily. Composer Gehman is currently in Saudi Arabia and the collaboration for the show happened mainly through the Internet over the six months, according to Wolfe.

"The music is also a fusion between the east and the west. It is a mixture between the Chinese instrument pipa (a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument) and western style Broadway music," explained Wolfe.

More than 40 dancers from Dance of Asian American (DAA) and more than 30 martial arts performers from Grandmaster Shi Xing Hao's Houston Shaolin Kung Fu Academy (HSKFA) will perform in the show. They have been rehearsing the program for the past few months.

The musical is mostly created around HSKFA talents and Shi himself will perform a key role in the show. HSKFA has won numerous awards for the US team in international martial arts competitions.

DAA is a talented local art group and it made an appearance on the popular television show America's Got Talent last year.

Yang Song, the Chinese Consul for cultural affairs in Houston, praised the musical as one of a kind cultural event. "It fuses Chinese and American elements together. It's indeed quite innovative and creative. We not only get entertainment from this show, but also we get to know the philosophy and scope of Chinese martial arts. It takes the martial arts out of the Chinese community and brings it to the mainstream."

Cissy Segall Davis, managing director of Miller Outdoor Theatre, said in a statement that Worldwide Stage has produced several multi-cultural theatrical works at the theatre and "Kung Fu Hero will be a welcome delight to our diverse patrons."