Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group (RUG) has launched a new project to develop musical theatre in China. Partnering with Shanghai Media Group Live (SMG Live), the impresario said he wants Chinese audiences to see productions “every bit the equal in scale and quality” to those presented in Europe.
The project has three prongs. Firstly, the two partners will present Chinese language versions of existing West End shows. A translated version of Webber’s Tell Me On A Sunday, for example, will tour China in 2018.
In addition, the two companies will convert existing Chinese artworks into musical theatre and develop new musical theatre shows rooted in Chinese cultural heritage. These will be “culturally sensitive”, and will help to “build awareness and interest” in the genre.
Finally, RUG and SMG Live will work with London-based Arts Educational Schools (AES) to develop musical theatre talent within China. A newly opened SMG Arts Education Center in Shanghai will offer an eight-week musical theatre training course from September onwards, using AES instructors. Shorter courses tackling specific skills will begin in October.
Wang Jianjun, chair of SMG Live, said she is “excited to be working with RUG” and hopes “this partnership can grow into a successful case study for international cooperation.”