Curtain rises on quality musicals this month
Russian musical "Onegin's Demon" and immersive Broadway musical "Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812" are leading rich musical choices for Shanghai's theatergoers in January.
Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" has already met audiences in the forms of opera, drama and ballet. The creators of the contemporary musical "Onegin's Demon" approached the Russian literary classic in the best traditions of Russian theater and Broadway standards.
Despite the fame of the novel, few people remember that the poem "demon" was written by Pushkin as one of the chapters of "Eugene Onegin."
The musical's creators, known for their sensational production "The Master and Margarita," challenged themselves to present the world of Russia's Golden Age classics from a different perspective.
They brought out the demon from Onegin's dark nature, and gave him and Tatyana a chance to look back on their lives. Though the demon never appeared in the original novel, it becomes a puppet master in the musical and drives the development of the story.
Compared with other divine and poetic opera and drama adaptations of "Eugene Onegin," the musical version presents the perceptual, modern and magical side of the literary figure.
The musical integrates contemporary music with Tchaikovsky's opera music. Stage props like the furniture, snowflakes, and garlands fully restore the sense of the times and Russian cultural characteristics.
Making its Shanghai debut, "Onegin's Demon" features a star-studded cast that includes Russian actor and producer Ivan Ozhogin (who plays the role of Onegin), Sergei Khudiakov (who plays demon), and Tatiana Kulikova (who plays Tatyana).
Later this month, "Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812" will be making its Asian debut at the New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center, staging 51 performances from January 13 to March 3.
With music, lyrics and book by Dave Malloy, the immersive Broadway musical is adapted from a 70-page segment of Leo Tolstoy's 1869 epic novel "War and Peace." The plot focuses on Natasha's romance with Anatole, as well as Pierre's search for meaning in his life.
Jointly presented by the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai West Bund Theater and Eternity Culture, the musical has already held a round of preview shows at The Nine Trees Future Art Center from December 29 to November 1, receiving positive feedback from audiences.
The unique stage design, eye-catching costumes, unforgettable music and the actors' vigorous running around the stage are all distinctive characteristics of this musical.
South Korean stage designer Pilyoung Oh drew inspiration from comet orbits, turning the theater into an immersive scene of Russian court dances with four ring-shape audience pools becoming part of the stage.
The actors wandered around the "orbits" through the performance and occasionally interacted with audience in the pools.
All suspended parts of the stage design could not use the theater's original automation equipment.
A complex stage structure was rebuilt to support the stage hardware, including five suspended ring-shape decorations with a total weight of 12 tons, and a one-ton crystal chandelier.
Props could fill nearly 30 trucks and the entire stage took 105 hours to build. Also, tracking technology is applied to all light and sound effects.
When actors appear in different stage areas, the lighting guides the audience's attention to that part. The sound designer also needs to balance the experience of the audiences in the pool seats and those in the ordinary seats.
Other recommended musical performances in January include original musical "Matilda," which is staged at Shanghai Grand Theater through January 21. Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center's musical comedy "Murder For Two" is staged at the Hopson One mall in Yangpu district through January 14.
Dates: Through January 9, 7:30pm
Tickets: 80-1080 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Culture Square 上海文化廣場
Address: 597 Fuxing Rd M. 復興中路597號
Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812
Dates: January 13 - March 3
Tickets: 80-1880 yuan
Venue: New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center 前灘31演藝中心
Address: 777 W Gaoqing Rd 高青西路777號