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China has received it's first ever Western musical translated into Mandarin with Mamma Mia playing in Shanghai's Grand Theatre before it transfers to Beijing and goes on two major tours of the country.

It is the musical’s 14th different language production.

The show is a complete break from tradition for Chinese theatre, which is normally operas: grand and often serious productions about China's history or culture.  It is produced in China by United Asia Live Entertainment Co for China Arts And Entertainment Group by arrangement with Judy Craymer, Richard East and Bjorn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal.

It is under the direction of the creative team who put on the musical in London currently playing at the Prince of Wales Theatre.  The show's creator Judy Craymer commented: “The challenges have been immense because what we’re doing here is genuinely pioneering. There’s virtually no infrastructure for commercial musical theatre in China, so finding the talent we needed - actors, technicians, stage crew and musicians - proved extremely difficult, locating a theatre to accommodate us took a long time and even translating the lyrics into a tonal language was a major challenge. But we did it.”

After a slow start, the final song medley had the audience up on their feet singing and dancing.

Tian Shui, a well-known musical actress in China taking on the role of Donna predicts that the legendary Swedish pop group's sounds will help pave the way for other Western imports.

"The musical will be accepted by Chinese audiences, especially younger people, because of fashion and pop, plus the themes resonate with audiences. This is a great start for the musical in China," she said.

More than 45 million people, in over 300 cities have already seen Mamma Mia! on stage. With a Chinese population of more than 1.3 billion that could make Mamma Mia the most widely seen musical in the world!

[posted by Louise, 13/07/2011]

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