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December 17, 2010

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Experimental musical and old Shanghai thriller

GOING to karaoke is especially popular during holiday season and a new experimental musical "Crazy KTV" tells assorted tales from KTV culture.

"Crazy KTV," which recently debuted in Shanghai, was conceived by young Beijing director Huang Ying who casts young actors and actresses from Beijing and Shanghai, all of them lovers of KTV.

It begins a second run on Wednesday.

Huang calls it an experimental musical featuring more than 20 Chinese pop songs, ranging from golden oldies to the latest hits by Faye Wong, Jonathan Lee and Chang Chen Yue. A live band performs.

Some songs are identical to the originals, while the lyrics of others have been adapted to better suit the plot.

In the story, a young, unsuccessful "rock artist" is forced to make a living by becoming a waiter in a large KTV chain. In the KTV rooms, he meets all kinds of people and witnesses dramatic stories happening every day. There's a diligent insurance sales agent who looks for new clients every night, a young unemployed man who seeks his true love, an angry college student confused about his future, as well as a recently divorced successful businesswoman in her 40s who is lost in life.

Although each character has his or her own problems, they have one thing in common - they all believe in a better tomorrow. "The waiter and all the other characters symbolize today's young people in China," says director Huang.

Suitcase thriller

Min Jian Xi Ju, a theater company formed by acting school graduates, will stage its first production, "In the Suitcase," an original thriller set in 1930s Shanghai.

According to Zhang Yu, director of Shanghai Modern People's Theater, Shanghai has surpassed Beijing to become the country's largest market for stage plays, due to the rapid growth of private theater companies in recent years. The new theater company was formed by graduates of the Shanghai Theater Academy and Shanghai Normal University.

Detective plays are extremely popular and account for nearly 30 percent of all the plays staged in the city this year, Zhang says. "However, to get the audience to come back, we need more than translated classics, like Agatha Christie's stories. We need original witty creations like 'In the Suitcase' as well."

The play, which opens next month, is a collection of stories that all begin with an old suitcase taken to a laundry shop by a mysterious woman who never returns to claim the luggage. A series of scary things happen to a shop employee, Xue Li, who tries to unlock the suitcase.

"The suitcase contains memories, all kinds of memories, from good ones to bad ones, beautiful ones to ugly ones, fancy ones to scary ones," says director Zhao Min.

Zhao and his team started to work on the play in 2009 and spent more than a year reworking on the plot, changing content and revising the ending more than 10 times.

"You will never be able to anticipate what is going to happen next," Zhao says.

The play will be staged in the historical Xinguang Arts Center on Ningbo Road. Director Zhao calls it an ideal venue for such a play with its old Shanghai-style architecture and furnishings. Actresses will wear traditional qipao evoking the aura of 1930s Shanghai.

'Crazy KTV'

Date: December 22-January 16, 7:30pm

Tickets: 120-200 yuan

Tel: 6473-0123

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd

'In the Suitcase'

Date: January 7-16, 7:30pm

Tickets: 100-150 yuan

Tel: 6351-1055

Venue: Xinguang Arts Center, 586 Ningbo Rd


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