Broadway musical Fame makes China debut

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing. The production is the latest move to "localise" musicals. Now, Broadway musicals have locals casts to cut costs and expand the business.

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing.

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing.

These are familiar scenes of young performers singing and dancing to the world famous theme song from the Broadway musical "Fame".

Except that this is not being staged in Broadway or London's West End, but rather in China's capital, Beijing.

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing.

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing.

For the first time in China, the Broadway hit musical has been rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast.

Zhao Xu, lead actor, said, "There could be some things that are culturally conflicting, but if we encounter things that we cannot understand or relate to, our teachers will make adjustments. What we are doing now is very Chinese, and very us."

Zhao Xu, lead actor

Zhao Xu, lead actor

As the financial crisis continues to contract consumers' entertainment spending and with Broadway theatres struggling to fill the seats, some producers are trying to bring musicals to the China market.

Gross profits and attendance at theatres in the U.S. grew only 10 percent and 8 percent this season in the period ending December 14th, compared to this time last year, when writers went on a 19-day strike.

But ambitious Broadway companies are using the financial crisis as an opportunity to spread their wings elsewhere, especially in emerging markets such as China.

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing.

Broadway hit musical Fame is being rewritten in Mandarin and performed by a full Chinese cast in Beijing.

Toby Simkin, vice president of Nederlander World wide Entertainment, said, "Broadway's been in business for 100 years, so it's had 100 years of developing audiences. China has had 3 or 4 years of developing audiences, so this is the very infancy stage of being able to develop, but I think in the years to come, 5, 10, 15 years from now, China is going to herald probably the third or fourth largest theatre market in the world."

The Mandarin-version of "Fame", a Broadway musical about the life of young art school students, is the Nederlander's experimental baby with China's Central Academy of Drama.

After the students' successful debut in December, the company is hoping to commercialize the show on a higher professional level to target the wider Chinese market.

In the works are plans to take the musical on a tour of over 20 cities across China.

[source:CCTV]