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Monkey King makes stage magic

JOURNEY to the West" featuring the fantastic Monkey King and his magical powers has been turned into a TV series, animation feature, Peking Opera and musical drama.

But a "magical" stage play featuring spectacular magic and illusion is something new.

From July 22 to 25, audiences can decide whether a 10-million-yuan (US$1.5 million) "Monkey King" production truly captures the magic of the tale.

The spectacular show at Shanghai Grand Theater is based on "Monkey King Fights the White Bone Demon," a famous chapter in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) novel.

Magic, illusion, acrobatics, dance, laser, multimedia effects (even smell) will create an otherworldly Monkey King experience. It features more than 200 sets of costumes and 1,000 stage props.

In this story, the Monkey King and his master Xuan Zang meet the White Bone Demon and engage in fierce battle on their way to find Buddhist sutras in what is today India.

Magic and illusion performances include "twisting and removing a head" and "needle penetrating a body." Acrobats will perform the Monkey King's gravity-defying feats.

The White Bone Demon will be magically transformed from a skeleton into a beautiful woman.

In the final scene, magicians will "create" a 7-meter-high statue of Buddha as the audience watches.

The show is produced by the Zhejiang Province Folk Art and Acrobatics General Troupe.

Costumes have been designed by creators of the splendid attire for Chinese epic films "Hero" and "The Promise" and Hollywood adventure film "The Mummy 3."

Director Ding Wei says that he has dreamed for years of turning the classic into a stage play, but the challenge has been daunting.

"Monkey King is so vivid, so we try to combine magic, acrobatics, kung fu and dance. We hope this will create an intriguing 'supernatural' vision," he says.

If the show is well received, producers hope to take this magical Monkey King abroad.

Date: July 22-24, 7:15pm; July 25, 2pm, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 120-800 yuan

Tel: 6372-8702, 6361-3061


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