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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Les Mis captivates China
Les Miserables
The show has been a huge hit with Shanghai audiences
The French revolution musical Les Miserables has become a huge hit with Chinese audiences, following its debut in Shanghai last month.

The show, which has been produced in 35 countries, is the first Broadway production ever to make it to the Chinese stage.

And audiences at Shanghai's Grand Theatre, where the show has been performed since mid-June, have given it an ecstatic reception.

It reminded me of images of when China was liberated by the Communist Party

Tong Jianliang, student

"It was amazing, the costumes, the music, everything," enthused 15-year-old high school student Huang Xiaoyan, following a week night performance of the show.

"The students waving the red flag reminded me of images of when China was liberated by the Communist Party," said 28-year-old Tong Jianliang.

Many have cited the parallels between Les Miserables' storyline and recent Chinese history as one of the reasons the show has been such a hit in Shanghai.

But few have suggested that it brings back memories of 1989's Tiananmen massacre, in which several hundred unarmed student demonstators were killed by the Chinese army.
Les Miserables
The musical has parallels with recent Chinese history

"It doesn't remind me of Tianenmen," said one theatre-goer. "I think instead of Chinese opera, only how could that compare with Les Mis's lighting, or sets, or scale?"

However, some inevitable comparisons have been made.

Legend has it that student demonstrators in Tianenmen Square broadcast one of the show's songs, Do You Hear The People Sing, over loudspeakers during the pro-democracy protests in the summer of 1989.

Other audience members claim to be reminded of protests in the north east of the country over the past couple of years

There, tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off have staged angry protests over unpaid wages and welfare.

They are sophisticated people...they know what parallels can be drawn from the show

Cameron Mackintosh

However, the show's British producer Cameron Mackintosh says he is happy for audiences to interpret the musical however they choose.

"They are sophisticated people here, they know exactly what parallels can be drawn from the show," he told a news conference.

Les Miserables, which is now the second longest running show in Broadway history, has been seen by more than 49 million people worldwide, and taken more than 1.2bn.

There have been 54 different productions of the show around the world, in 21 languages.

The Shanghai production was performed in English, with Chinese subtitles at the top of the stage.

See also:

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