Chinese pop come to Broadway show

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-09-25 10:54

Chinese pop come to Broadway show

Jonathan Lee (center) attended the press release of Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical with the executive producer Don Frantz (right) and chairman of China Broadway Entertainment Ivy Zhong in New York on Sept 21. ZHU YUNDI / CHINA DAILY

Jonathan Lee, China's godfather of pop, is taking his celebrated songs to Broadway as a jukebox musical this year.

Produced by China Broadway Entertainment, Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical is adapted from a novel by Li Xiuwen about a man and a woman and a deathly illness and will feature popular songs by Lee.

"I'm delighted to have the opportunity to share my music through a new medium," said Lee. "The idea that my music can reach a new, global audience through the theater is absolutely thrilling."

"There are lots of challenges we have to overcome, because the lyrics of my songs tell different stories, so translating them into English and integrating them into a storyline won't be easy. There's not just a language barrier but cultural and historical differences as well," Lee said.

"We got the novel from Li Xiuwen, adapted it to a musical and changed it a little bit to create a beautiful musical story," said producer Don Frantz.

"We also got Tony Award-winning lyricist Richard Maltby who dove into the lyrics of Jonathan Lee and translated them for us," Frantz added.

He said to get the US audience to understand the musical, their creative team had to fully understand it first.

"The sources and inspiration for this musical come from China," artistic director Eric Schaeffer said. "The interpretation and development come from America. The goal is to create a new kind of musical theater experience that will be entirely universal."

Lee said he has a bigger dream for his work taking the Broadway stage.

"I hope this collaboration can bring more advanced technologies, greater talent from Broadway to China," he said.

He said musicals have a long history in the West, but the integration of Chinese songs with the performance format of a musical is something rare and new to Chinese audiences.

"I hope the production of this show can help Chinese musical production teams accumulate more experience, and eventually they will help develop more original Chinese musicals," Lee said.

The team has not yet decided which songs to use in the show. "We are still trying and exploring, finding the best songs to integrate into the musical which would best interpret my music on the stage."

On Dec 12, the Tony-winning Signature Theatre Arlington, Virginia, will stage a reading of Road to Heaven.

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