After two years' preparation, China Children's Art Theater (CCAT) is just about to launch its second musical, The Blue Bird, based on the famous play by Nobel Prize Laureate Maurice Maeterlinck.
Being a symbolist poet and playwright, Maurice Maeterlinck is famous for his vague and dreamlike style of writing. The Blue Bird is a fanciful and somewhat sentimental play for children, which tells a story about a woodcutter's children's journey in search of a bluebird. After many adventures they return home, where a kind deed helps them discover at last the happiness they had wandered so far to find. The play was first performed by the Moscow Art Theater in 1908.
In 1994, the Japanese Shiki Theatrical Company adapted the play into a musical and renamed it Dreaming, which instantly became a hit in Japan. Greatly impressed by the play, Zhou Zhiqiang, the visiting director of CCAT discussed with Asha Li Kei Ta, artistic director of the Shiki Company, about the possibility of importing it into China. However, China's dearth of professional musical performers at that time prohibited it from becoming the first musical of CCAT. With Shiki's help, CCAT's first musical was an easier production, The Emperor's New Clothes, in 1995. Emperor's's success reasurred the two parties, and a cooperative agreement to produce The Blue Bird in China was soon signed.
"The total investment of the play is close to RMB 2 million yuan (about US$250,000), the biggest in the theatre's history for a single play," Mr. Li XiaoGang, vice director of Business Dept. of CCAT, told Playbill On-Line. " We seldom invest more than RMB 400,000 yuan (about US$50,000), so this is a breakthrough." Li XiaoGang added. "The Blue Bird is a full-length musical, whereas The Emperor's New Clothes is only half. So I believe Blue Bird will double the latter's success. No matter children or adults, it is well-worth to see."
The Blue Bird is directed by Asha Li Kei Ta, and composed by Japanese librettist and composer Iruka. The choreographer and costume designer are also from Japan. The cast includes Shan Zenhong, Wang Yang, and Wang Yao. The Blue Bird opens Jan. 23-Feb.12 at 14:00 or 19:00, at Beijing Workers' Club at Liu Li Chang, Chong Wen District. For tickets call 65134121.
--By Wang Ling