Sponsors Chinese are behind three of the hottest Broadway shows as part of a broader effort to expand the musical theater in China.
Three of the hottest musicals on Broadway have Chinese as China advocates the expansion of live theater in the house starts and looks to New York for specialization.
China Media Capital, a private equity fund backed by the state, has invested in the production company behind Tony-nominated "Hand of God" and "Something rotten!" Beijing-based China Entertainment Broadway is a sponsor of "An American in Paris," which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards.
"This is the first season that Chinese companies are investing in Broadway," said Simone Genatt, president of Broadway Asia, a production company and entertainment licenses based in New York focused mainly on Asia. "They have been doing Broadway musicals in mainland China over the last decade, but this is the first time China is here in New York."
New York investments are part of a broader effort to expand the musical theater inside China. Big Broadway shows as "Cats" and "The Sound of Music" has been touring China for years. In a next step, "Cats" and "Mamma Mia" have been translated into Chinese. In recent years, the government has built over 25 new rooms for live musical productions, each with 1,200 to 1,800 seats capacity across the country.
Chinese investors say they are hoping to leverage their investments in Broadway shows to gain experience in US productions, bringing entertainment to China and eventually developing the most original Chinese musical produced.
CMC based in Shanghai last year invested in Broadway Kevin McCollum Global Ventures (BGV), who produced "Hand of God" and "Something rotten!" Mr. McCollum, a veteran producer whose credits include "Avenue Q" and "Rent", refused to reveal the size of the investment, but said CMC can help your company to expand its production to China, and said he is ready for consumption and theatrical creation.
"They are ready," says Mr. McCollum. "This is the source material that could work well there."
Finally, Mr. McCollum says he hopes to create the original musical theater artists and writers from the US and China. The idea is to create music that "is a fusion of the two cultures" and "could be realized both here and there."
"Kevin is very good for original shows, a skill that seems so vital," said Clark Xu, general manager of CMC. "Because at the end of the day, we want to make our own original shows."
CMC's investment is designed to benefit its portfolio companies, including seven ages of Production, musical-production company based in Beijing that Mr. McCollum adapted from "Avenue Q" in a Chinese version began touring level national in 2014.
CMC is also an investor in new Dream Center Shanghai, a large leisure complex with five theaters, including one dedicated to music, which is scheduled to open as early as 2017. The theater will be able to draw on both productions Sr . McCollum and its own original productions in the future, Xu said. CMC is also learning ticketing and theater management of Mr. McCollum equipment and ensure it is able to maintain the world-class music in the future.
Until now, Chinese investors have preferred classical music with healthy stories. "Something rotten!" - A love letter somewhat obscene musical theater and Shakespeare, and the "Hand of God" are provocative are the boldest offers, but have made no objections from CMC. "The shows are born of the western land and the content caters to local audiences," Xu said. "We do not interfere with the creation of the series and respect the decisions of team creation."
That may change if the shows traveling to China. All scripts must be subjected to censorship for approval. "We hope the shows will tour in China, and certainly make suggestions on this matter then," Xu said.
Mr. McCullom says vanguard "Avenue Q" has not changed for China, but overall, set a program to work in a new place is common. "You have to have partners in the local market to succeed in that market," he said.
"An American in Paris" is the first investment by China Broadway Entertainment, a producer of live entertainment based in Beijing. The company, created last year to invest in and produce Broadway shows in China, was founded by Broadway Asia and two Chinese producers: Ivy Zhong, former managing director of Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co. Ltd., a Chinese film-production independent leader and Sean Hsu, president of China, Digital Culture, an entertainment company based in Beijing. CBE invested "several hundred thousand dollars" in the musical and plans to support future US shows.
Is expected to "An American in Paris" to go to China since 2018, first as a tour through Asia, then as a local language version, said Ms. Genatt. CBE is also planning a production dip "Peter Pan" to visit some cities in China with Randy Weiner, the producer of "Sleep No More".
Don Frantz, veteran producer of "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway and "The Lion King", says he started getting calls from Chinese investors, as soon as the Tony nominations were announced in April this year. Mr. Frantz, creative director at Town Square Productions is actively involved with local producers in the stage production in China, including a Mandarin-production of "Into the Woods".
"Chinese investors are passionate about the world of Broadway," said Mr. Frantz. Mr. Frantz and helped facilitate Chinese investment in its own production off-Broadway. Zhang Chen, founder of Mahua FunAge Production Co. Ltd., a leading Chinese comedy company decided to invest in "Disenchanted" After attending a lecture in New York in 2013. Produced by Mr. Frantz, the musical is adult princesses.
"My gut says this is an interesting show with good market potential," Zhang said. He said he spent "a very small part" of the total budget of the program to "take the temperature" of the industry. Zhang created a new company, China Musical Theatre in New York last year and plans to spend more. "I'm definitely going to increase my investment in the Broadway musical," he said. "If the program will not come to be in China, you can only stay out of the country as a purely financial investment."
http://www.wsj.com/ by Lilian Lin and Stefanie Cohen
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