Archive for the ‘Abroad’ Category

China continues to love Western-style musical theatre. I talked a bit about this phenomenon in this post, this post and this post.

Here is a recent article about how the Great White Way continues to flourish in the land of the Great White Wall:


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This is more coverage related to my previous posts about the burgeoning musical theatre industry in China. Interesting declaration at the end of the article…

‘So Far Off Broadway It’s in China’

Not sure this is in any way connected to China’s interest in importing and creating Broadway-style musicals, but it seems telling, at least to me, that there happen to be TWO prominent shows currently being produced in New York that have Chinese/American communications at the heart of their themes in David Henry Hwang’s CHINGLISH and Zayd Dohrn’s OUTSIDE PEOPLE.

Could all this be an indicator pointing to the Arts as a viable road leading towards improved diplomacy and mutual understanding between the U.S. and China?

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Two posts ago I discussed how Western-style shows have been trying their luck in the East. I specfically brought up MAMMA MIA, which is currently running in China and has been translated into Mandarin. Below is a link to the latest feature covering this event and includes differing opinions about whether translating this global mega-hit into the local vernacular was the right move …


And here’s another recent article that explains a bit more about how the Chinese hope to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern styles, and ultimately produce original musicals of their own to export across the world …


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This past summer a Mandarin version of MAMMA MIA opened in Beijing. More and more over the past several years theatre producers have been looking to China as a place to present musicals.  In this particular case, this was the first time a Western-style musical was translated into Mandarin, as opposed to being performed in English. Clearly, the actual language would be understood by the locals, but did the story and style translate to this vastly different culture?

Here is an article from TIME that discusses the MAMMA MIA Beijing engagement. I also talked a bit about the challenges of American and Western-style musicals in general translating in other countries, both literally and culturally, in my post entitled “Lost In Translation” back on May 28, 2009.

Here is a news clip that covers the Mandarin version of MAMMA MIA. And here is a review of the show.

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For the production of THE PRODUCERS in Berlin The Admiralspalast theater has been draped in giant red flags bedecked with black pretzels and sausages -- a satire on the swastika flag, illegal in postwar Germany.

For the production of THE PRODUCERS in Berlin The Admiralspalast theater has been draped in giant red flags bedecked with black pretzels and sausages -- a satire on the swastika flag, illegal in postwar Germany.

The Road has gone global.

A number of shows that have played in New York City and North America have moved beyond our shores in search of further life. In recent years the Nederlanders brought 42nd Street and Fame, among other well-known titles to China, with a giant entertainment complex for Beijing also in the works to be able to bring more shows. Broadway Asia Company is also producing shows in Asia, and Wicked is all over the globe, just to name a very small handful of examples.

There is already often a difference between what works on Broadway and what translates on The Road here in North America. Sometimes shows that do well in New York for a variety of reasons don’t have the same success on The Road. Blockbusters like Wicked, Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia! however seem to transcend cultural differences not just regionally here in the States, but also internationally. Wicked grosses in London have been consistently high and worldwide grosses for Phantom of the Opera have also been staggering.

What about other shows that make a go of it overseas though? Is high-grossing gold always guaranteed in them there international hills?

Two recent home-grown Tony Award (TM) winning, critically-acclaimed musicals, both of which had national tours, do not seem as though they resonate as successfully with overseas audiences as they did here in the States.

Spring Awakening was a critical hit on Broadway and drew a solid following in New York, and continues to appeal to audiences in certain markets around the country, but The New York Times reports that Spring Awakening in London will be closing after a “painfully abbreviated run.” The Producers attained box office grosses that were enviable both in New York and on The Road. The recent launch of The Producers in Germany recently though, doesn’t look as though it will be the same slam dunk according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Critics are raving it seems, but it is ultimately the word of mouth of ticket buyers and butts in seats that makes or breaks the success of a show. The Producers ended it’s run early in Vienna due to poor ticket sales — will it suffer the same fate in Berlin? Why didn’t Spring Awakening succeed in London the way it did in New York? Did the themes of both of these shows somehow get lost in cultural translation? Or, perhaps, did their themes translate too well, and touch a cultural nerve?

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