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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
'Les Mis' ready for China
Scene from Les Miserables
Les Miserables is a popular book in China
French revolutionary musical Les Miserables is to make its debut in China on Saturday with 16 days of performances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

The musical is the second longest running production on Broadway and one of the most successful in London West End history.

It is based on the US touring and Broadway shows, with the lead roles filled by London cast members Colm Wilkinson as Valjean and Michael McCarthy as Javert.


Vast amounts of Broadway productions could be presented in China

David Caddick
Executive producer
The idea of taking the first Broadway/West End show to the world's most heavily populated country stemmed from a visit in 1994 by British impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Chinese cultural bosses were particularly interested in a Broadway or West End musical but it has taken five years of complex negotiations and planning to overcome logistic and other difficulties.

Qian Shijing, vice-president of Shanghai Grand Theatre, contacted Mackintosh again in 1997, and a formal invitation from the Chinese government to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the UK followed later.

Victor Hugo's novel - on which the musical is based - is one of the most popular in China, and there is still interest in the history of France's revolutions.

Chinese subtitles

The musical, based on Victor Hugo's classic novel that sweeps through three turbulent decades of 19th Century French history, will now make its debut in Shanghai on Saturday.

The production will be performed in English with Chinese subtitles at the top of the stage.

Stage sets weighing 5663kg were brought in on a jumbo jet at a cost of about 160,000, an "unheard of" price for the Chinese partners who had suggested the sets be shipped by sea.

Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo's novel is set in turbulent 19th Century France
Transport and housing costs for the cast and crew totalled 1.1m, although advance bookings are reported to have been good after heavy publicity.

The Shanghai Grand Theatre even sent four Chinese journalists to New York and San Francisco to interview the show's actors and producers, an unusual move in China.

Tickets for the Shanghai shows run from 7 to 70 compared with 7 to 40 in London.

Even the cheapest tickets will be more than a day's salary for an average worker in Shanghai.

Seoul dates

"If it is a form of art that can be appreciated by Chinese, vast amounts of Broadway productions could be presented in China," said David Caddick, the show's executive producer.

Les Miserables will play in South Korean capital Seoul from 12 July to 4 August after Shanghai.

Worldwide, Les Miserables has been seen by more than 49 million people, taking more than 1.2bn at the box office.

There have been 54 productions in 35 countries and 21 languages, according to the show's website.

See also:

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