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September 3, 2011

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'Zorro' will slice its way to Shanghai

Batman, Spider-Man and Iron Man are all well-known superheroes who seek justice while hiding behind a mask.

One of the earliest masked heroes, Zorro, is coming to Shanghai in the form of a musical this October as part of the Shanghai International Art Festival.

"Zorro the Musical" will be staged at Shanghai Oriental Art Center from October 26 to November 29.

"Zorro" debuted on the London West End with music by the Gypsy Kings and John Cameron, who had written the music for "Les Miserables." The musical was later adapted into different versions and staged in the United States, Israel, Russia, Brazil and Spain. The version coming to Shanghai is said to be the Broadway version with splendid sets.

Elements like aerobatics, fencing, fireworks and magic and, of course, passionate Latin music and flamenco dancing will help spectators feel like a part of Zorro's world.

Ricky Nur, general producer of the show, says the show was carefully chosen for China.

"We chose 'Zorro' after a survey found that Chinese audiences love Latin music, flamenco and the wonderful story of the hero behind the mask," Nur says.

It's also a show for the whole family as it can help children realize that real heroes do not abuse the power they possess, Nur adds.

Cooper Grodin, who will play the lead role of Zorro during the musical's China tour, says the masked man is an easy character to play because behind all the fancy swordsmanship he is a real person.

"He doesn't fly or shoot things out of his eyes," Grodin says. "He bleeds, and he falls in love. He has no special tricks. He is just a real human and an accessible hero."

Although the Zorro character first appeared in a 1919 novella, "The Curse of Capistrano," the story has been adapted numerous times over the decades, including versions for television and the big screen.

Taking on such a beloved character can put pressure on an actor. However, Grodin says he is not fazed about previous adaptations, including the 1998 film "The Mask of Zorro," which starred Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

"I am not concerned about what have been done before me, I will do my own version of Zorro," says Grodin, who has also starred in "Les Miserables" and "Grease."

"The difference between this Zorro and those before is that this will be done by me, not anyone else," he adds.

The producers intentionally prevented Grodin from watching too much of previous versions in order to leave space for his own creation.

"I have seen some of the TV shows of Zorro before and there are little things I liked," he says. "But I told myself to be careful, and to be sure that I am not imitating or copying. Otherwise, my role will not be real, and audiences can feel that. They know when you are doing what somebody else did."

Christopher Tocco will play Zorro's nemesis Ramon and says he is excited to be the villain.

"As a villain on stage, you can experience two kinds of life - being a good man in real life and a real bad guy on the stage," Tocco says.

"Zorro is a good fencer, but he still has to work hard to match my skills," he adds, with a grin.

After "Zorro" completes its Shanghai run, it will move on to Beijing, Chongqing, Wuhan in Hubei Province, Chengdu in Sichuan Province and Shenzhen in Guangdong Province.

Date: October 26-November 29, 2pm or 7:30pm

Venue: Opera Hall of Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 120-2,080 yuan

Tel: 962-388


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