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Raise the red standard (2)

By Liao Danlin (Global Times)

10:44, January 08, 2013

Romeo and Juliet, Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables - texts of these successful musicals are based on masterpieces of literature. The choice of material is crucial for Zhou as she recognizes almost immediately the "music-ness" as she called it, in the texts.

At the same time, with its academic advantages, the musical research center carefully studied audience demographics for musicals. Analysis suggests that the most influential group is women in their 30s. This led to the choice of Wives and Concubines by Su Tong as the final choice for the musical's literary foundation. It is the same work upon which Zhang Yimo's Raise the Red Lantern (1991) is based, as well as a ballet performed by the National Ballet of China.

Find a balance

When asked to name a popular musical, most Chinese audiences will immediately think about Broadway shows. Their viewing habits and taste in musicals has been largely influenced by Western productions. On a broader scale, the same has occurred regarding popular Chinese culture in general. So, learning from Western classics is inevitable.

Consider for example the stage design for Red Lantern; though the color palette is very Chinese, it still looks like a Western-style oil painting. As the story has a traditional Chinese theme imbued with a lot of metaphors, the design should find a balance between realism and imagination.

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