INTO THE WOODS of BEIJING
By Don Frantz
Yesterday was Super Sunday in Beijing at the PLA Theater where the 100th performance of the Mandarin production of “INTO THE WOODS” was performed. The musical is produced by Ovation Culture Development Company based in Langfang, Hebei. This is Ovation’s first theatrical production yet produced with confidence, professionalism, adequate financial support and a strategic and successful collaboration with the international theatrical community.
This accomplishment should not come as a surprise since it was guided by the experienced hand of producer Zhou ZhiQiang, previously head of the National Theater of China. Mr. Zhou assembled a trusted design team and recruited some of the best performers on the musical scene to bring Stephen Sondheim’s music to the Beijing audience. A veteran of various collaborations with international partners, Mr. Zhou also called upon yours truly as a producing consultant on the project.
INTO THE WOODS was previously produced in Beijing at the Central Academy of Drama in 2012. This production, co-produced by NYC’s Town Square Productions, established the foundation of the translation of the script & lyrics which were refined by Mr. Zhou’s team. Additionally the academy’s music supervisor, professor Dai realized the orchestral accompaniment with such success, that he was invited to join the professional production.
With the critical elements of the translation, orchestral production and the authors’ approval in place, Mr. Zhou elected to entrust the project to his 100% hometown creative team led by director Zhong Hao. His strategic goal was to secure and empower this best artists possible to interpret this Broadway masterpiece in a unique and appropriate way for the Chinese audience with only Chinese artists. In what is the 6th year of the localized Broadway musical in China, (the first being the Central Academy’s production of FAME in 2008) this decision established Ovation and Mr. Zhou’s legacy in the development of the musical art form in China.
Ovation’s efforts did not go un-noticed. China Daily’s Raymond Zhou, who I would submit as the leading cultural editor in China, wrote “visually the production is engrossing, and the dark treatment of the familiar fairy tales palpably jolted the audience” The bold effort of a 100-performance run in Beijing and the positive response of the audience caught the attention none other than the musical’s author and Broadway director, James Lapine. Mr. Lapine whose winter schedule was stacked with press events for Disney’s film “INTO THE WOODS” and lending his support to the LaJolla/Broadway-bound production his classic, somehow set aside a week to fly to Beijing and see the production for himself. He gave his own ovation to Ovation, saying “What a privilege to see INTO THE WOODS in Beijing. A terrifically well-sung production with some real eye-popping moments in the woods.”
For the record and the history book, this production is the fourth commercially produced Broadway musical in China following, in order, MAMA MIA, CATS, and AVENUE Q.
And this was certainly not the finale for Ovation or INTO THE WOODS. In Langfang, just 40 minutes southeast of the PLA Theater, Ovation has built a superior rehearsal facility and residence for their actors. Nearby is the construction site for their future home, an elaborate performing arts center to include four theatrical venues including one specifically earmarked for musical theater. Producing director Li Xiaofei reports that in the near future Jack, the Giant and the Baker will be visiting various cities between the woods and delighting China’s growing fan-base of musical theater.
艺术总监：周志强 制作总监：李晓菲 Art Director:Zhou Zhiqiang Production Director:Li Xiaofei 导演：钟浩 制作人：李兵 Director: Zhong Hao Producer:Li Bing 音乐总监：戴劲松 中文歌词：梁芒 Music Director:Dai Jinsong Lyric Adapter:Liang Mang 剧本改编：杨硕 剧本翻译：薄斯文 Script Adapter:Yang Shuo Script Translator:Bo Siwen 执行导演：吴旭 执行制作人：杨富凯 Executive Director:Wu Xu Executive Producer:Yang Fukai 制作咨询： 董方思 Producing Consulting: Don Frantz 舞美灯光总设计：任冬生 舞台总监：荆铁岩 Stage Artistic Design:Ren Dongsheng Stage Director:Jing Tieyan 视频设计：赵梓君 服装设计：文戈 Lyric Adapter:Zhao Zijun Costume Design:Wen Ge 化妆造型设计：耆娜 Model Design:Qi Na
－ 董方思 （Don Frantz）