As Broadway struggles, producers look to China

CHINA IS GOING TO GET a taste of American-style "Fame."

The musical about aspiring young stars who "want to live forever" will be adapted for Chinese audiences with an all-Chinese cast that will perform in Mandarin.

The Chinese version of the musical is a sign of the times as Broadway producers abandon the slumping Great White Way in favor of China's potentially huge entertainment market.

"We certainly have a very upbeat outlook on the market," said Bob Nederlander, a "Fame" producer whose recent Beijing mounting of "Aida" was sold out.

Nederlander's first foray in bringing Broadway to the People's Republic was in 2007 with a production of "42nd Street."

Another New York production company, Broadway Asia Entertainment, plans up to five shows, among them "The Sound of Music" and "Annie." It has put on 12 shows in China over the past five years with tours covering up to 20 cities. Composer/producer Andrew Lloyd Webber plans to open "Phantom: Love Never Dies" at the end of 2009 with simultaneous openings in New York, London and Shanghai.

Broadway tickets are expensive by Chinese standards, with some ducats going for more than an average worker's monthly wage, but the expansion of Chinese wealth has created a demand.

"Wherever I go to see those shows in China, the theaters are all packed," said Si Xiaotan, a Beijing lawyer and theater lover who saw a trial run of "Fame" last month.

(New York Daily News)

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