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March 11, 2012

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Legendary love story given a twist

AN original Chinese musical featuring a century-old love story will be staged in Shanghai later this month.

"Duan Qiao," or "Broken Bridge," is the story of two lovers who are separated by fate and circumstance before being reunited decades later. It combines the legend of White Snake and a love story that transcends the Taiwan Strait along with some Yueju Opera elements.

A young woman named Bai Lan meets her lover for the first time on the Broken Bridge on West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. She ends up waiting on the bridge for his return as fate takes him to Taiwan. She waits for 60 years before receiving news about her lover's whereabouts.

Directed by Wang Xiaoying, vice president of the National Theater of China, "Broken Bridge" will be staged at Shanghai Culture Square on March 16 and 17.

The story behind the musical is tinged with sadness. Scriptwriter Tian Ding wrote most of it after being diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. He died at the age of 27 before completing the script. The last part of the story was completed by his friend Liang Qing, who based the ending on conversations he had had with Tian.

The musical was first staged in Hangzhou in September. It was performed in Shanghai as part of the Shanghai International Arts Festival in October.

Wang says the story attracted him immediately.

"There is lot to present and tell in the story that combines an ancient legend with a modern romance," Wang says.

According to Wang, musicals are tricky because both casting and production are critical.

The group first planned to cast stars, but ended up using performers who had majored in musicals.

Zhang Hui, chairman of the board of Hongyi Movie and Television Culture Company, who co-produced the musical says the dance scenes are critical in "Broken Bridge."

"Singing, dancing and acting are all important in the show," he says. "But about 25 percent of the musical is presented by dance, which can be very difficult for unprofessional performers." Yu Yueyue, who graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music as a musical major, was eventually selected to play Bai Lan.

Wang says old elements from Hangzhou were incorporated into the musical to make it more authentic.

For example, a Yueju Opera performer appears in each act and presents a selection of the opera "The Legend of White Snake."

Wang hopes "Broken Bridge" can help present the beauty of West Lake and Hangzhou to more people. "I hope it's about the culture and emotion, not just the beautiful landscape," says Wang.

Date: March 16-17, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square, 597 Fuxing Rd M.

Tickets: 80-580 yuan

Tel: 962-388


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