Preview-Golden Lotus, the Musical



By: Meaghan McGurgan


It's very rare for Hong Kong to get a world-premiere musical event. The last one I can remember is Good Morning, Hong Kong. This time we're getting the world-premiere of the critically acclaimed Golden Lotus. Written by George Chiang, it was the first Canadian musical to ever receive an ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. The workshop was run by Tony award winning composer Stephen Schwartz who praised it thus:"The tone of the music is very original and refreshing. The combination of Asian instrumentation with more Western tonalities and harmonies is a refreshing and original combination that is clearly working. The music is terrific."


Golden Lotus is based on the infamous book by Jin Ping Mei. It was first published in 1610 and was written by an unknown author too frightened to reveal his identity for fear of persecution. The novel, despite its literary merits, has become known as a work of pornography for its vivid depiction of erotic sexuality for which it has been officially banned in China since 1687. Despite this, the novel survived surreptitiously and its story has been much loved by the Chinese for centuries.


Set during the dying war torn years of the Song Dynasty, Golden Lotus is a timeless epic about love and honour. The story centers around the forsaken beauty Golden Lotus whose desire for a new life gets her entangled in a blood soaked web of lust and deception with the valiant tiger slayer Wu Sung, the powerful playboy Xi Men and the humble bun peddler Wu Da. The creative team behind Golden Lotus has worked hard to keep the essense of the original novel while making it accessible for the whole family. 



"I think both fans of the original book and people who are unfamiliar with the story will enjoy Golden Lotus... In New York, when we workshopped it, no one really knew the story. It will be really interesting to see what Hong Kong audiences think, who know the original novel," says George Chiang, composer of the piece. He's been working on the show for a really long time and is very excited to see the show get its first fully realized staging this weekend. Mr. Chiang is an established writer and actor in Canada. He's worked for reputable companies like the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, The King and I, and several TV and movie appearances. He's also currently working on his new musical about the building of the Transcontinental railroad, The Lost Spike.



Another person who has been working on the project since its conception is Harriet Chung. Harriet is a prolific performer in Canada and was the first Asian cast member in The Phantom of the Opera. Known for her high energy in rehearsals and spectacular singing voice, she's very proud to be taking on the role of the Golden Lotus, "It's a dream role for any performer."


You can hear clips of the show's music at Golden Lotus' website by clicking this link. You can also check out our podcast interview with them. 



Bert Fink of the Rogers and Hammerstein Foundation calls it "an extraordinary, epic and ambitious work. Terrific, invigorating fusion. Western musical scale, western notes with an underscoring of Chinese. A terrific piece - very, very interesting." 


Golden Lotus opens tonight and seems set to be a must see. Local actor, Boon Ho Sung describes the process of the show as "intensive... We've got amazing dancers with amazing talents. They're The Avengers Jr. of the local dance scene." 


This show has a stellar cast of international performers, local stars and cute kids in the chorus. It will be playing this weekend at the Y-Theatre in Chai Wan. There are 8pm performances on the 12th and 13th and 3pm matinees on 13th and 14th. Tickets range from 280hkd to 350hkd. Tickets can be purchased through URBTIX. 


Golden Lotus is playing through Sunday. For more information, click here.


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