Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn stages the original Chinese musical 'No Longer Human'
Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn is in Shanghai for the original Chinese musical "No Longer Human," which is being staged at the Shanghai Grand Theater through this weekend.
Based on a 1948 Japanese autobiographical novel by Osamu Dazai, the musical debuted at the Grand Theater in 2021, receiving high praises from audiences. But the creators had to conquer a lot of difficulties, including long-distance communication caused by travel restrictions.
Two years after the accomplishment of the musical, the American composer finally had the chance to sit in Shanghai Grand Theater seats and enjoy the performance by the Chinese crew.
"I've never taken part in the creation of a musical from such a long distance, which made the production even more outstanding," Wildhorn said during a music sharing event with Shanghai audiences last week.
"I've put a lot of love and passion into it, which is also my first working experience for an original Chinese musical," he said. "It's a new and challenging process especially given the vocabulary fort, but everyone is cooperative and devoted."
The original novel tells the story of a troubled man incapable of revealing his true self to others, who later turns to a life of alcoholism and drug abuse before his final disappearance.
The Chinese musical stars popular singers Bai Jugang and Liu Lingfei, who play the lead roles of Osamu Dazai and Oba Yozo, the principal character of Dazai's novel. Bai and Liu switch their roles after each performance.
"I usually get inspiration from life, but these characters are wild and colorful, and become inspirations themselves," Wildhorn talked about his creative process.
"Despite the language barrier, the theme of the show is universal and timeless, which doesn't belong to any particular culture.
"It's about how youngsters are oppressed and isolated by society, and then try to find their path through... I try to get in their thoughts and souls, and express the universal theme with music, which heals and enables communication between different languages," he said.
Wildhorn is the composer of another popular musical "Jekyll & Hyde." Having a Japanese wife, he has working experiences in Japan and South Korea, and has been attracted to Asian music.
"I love Chinese cinema, as some of my favorite movies are Chinese," he said. "I'm still exploring, and may take part in the creation of productions based on original Chinese stories in the future."
Dates: August 10-13, 2pm/7:30pm
Tickets: 180-1280 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater 上海大剧院
Address: 300 People's Ave 人民大道300号