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Beijing prepares to be blown away by US Civil War classic

Time:2018-11-19   Source:China Daily


The actresses and actors of a new musical version o f Gone With the Wind talk about the production at a Beijing news conference on Nov 1. The world premiere of the musical in English will be held in Beijing on Nov 30. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The world premiere of an English-language musical version of Gone With the Wind will be staged in Beijing from Nov 30 to Dec 9. Then it will tour Xi'an, Shaanxi province, from Dec 15 to Dec 22 and Shanghai from Dec 29 to Jan 13.

Based on the original French version of the musical, entitled Autant emporte le Vent, in which both lyrics and music were written by the French musical writer Gerard Presgurvic and which premiered in Paris in 2003, the new musical version of Gone With the Wind is a collaboration between the composer, Presgurvic, and the Beijing-based company, Joyway. The company brought Presgurvic's musical, Romeo and Juliet, to China in 2016.

According to Zhang Ligang, founder and president of Joyway, the project of adapting the French musical into English started more than two years ago. Zhang and his wife, Qiao Jing, a former host on China Central Television (CCTV), who is the producer of the English version of the musical, flew to Seoul in 2015 to meet Presgurvic, when the musical's Korean edition was staged.

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War in the 1860s, the musical follows the life changes of the main characters, Scarlett O'Hara and her lover Rhett Butler.


The actresses and actors of a new musical version of Gone With the Wind talk about the production at a Beijing news conference on Nov 1. The world premiere of the musical in English will be held in Beijing on Nov 30. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"Like Romeo and Juliet, Gone With the Wind is a clas-sic story, which we still enjoy today. When I wrote the musical, I used music to portray the role of Scarlett O'Hara, who has grown up quite privileged but all the trappings of her luxurious lifestyle are destroyed because of the war. The story is her personal transition from a self-centered and spoiled young girl into a mature and independent woman," says Presgurvic, who wrote 28 songs for the musical, blending various musical styles, such as rock, pop and jazz.

"It was much more challenging to make an English version of Gone With the Wind than to bring the original French version. When we initiated the idea of making the English version of the musical, Presgurvic liked it and we did a global casting together," says Zhang, noting that the original novel by American author Margret Mitchell in 1936 and the 1939 Hollywood movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable have both enjoyed great popularity in China. Gone With the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell that was published during her lifetime. Mitchell received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for the book in 1937.

New York-based actress Rachel Gold, who has been seen in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway playing Christine Daae, will play the role of Scarlett O'Hara, opposite actor, American singer-songwriter, Eric Briarley, as Rhett Butler.

"I've read the book and watched the movie several times to understand the role. Vivien Leigh is very inspiring and I will add my own interpretation into the role," Gold says in Beijing.

American singer-songwriter, Amy Vachal, who is a semifinalist on the ninth season of popular American TV singing competition, The Voice, plays the role of Melanie Wilkes. Gone With the Wind will mark her debut as a musical actress. French singer-songwriter Cyril Niccolai, who played Ashley Wilkes in the French version of the musical will play the same role in the English version.

Frantz Morel, who worked with Presgurvic on the French musical version of Romeo and Juliet will direct the new play. He notes that, of all the 500 costumes created for the musical, Scarlett O'Hara's nine dresses highlight the protagonist's life.

The musical will also feature eight styles of dance, including ballet, contemporary dance and waltzes that will be performed by over 30 dancers from around the world.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn