Oscar Wilde's timeless classic adapted into a Chinese musical
Irish writer Oscar Wilde's only novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," is being adapted into a Chinese musical, which will be staged at the Shanghai Grand Theater next month.
The novel, which was published in 1890, is regarded as a Gothic literary classic and retains practical relevance in the modern era.
"The story is very close to today's life," said director Zhou Ke. "Modern people also worry a lot about appearance. Some seek sensual fulfillment and are lost in desire."
The story revolves around a portrait of Dorian Gray painted by Basil Hallward, who is infatuated with Gray's beauty.
Through Hallward, Gray meets Lord Henry Wotton and gets influenced by his hedonistic worldview: Beauty and sensual fulfillment are the only things worth pursuing in life.
Gray agrees to trade his soul in order for the painting to age and fade, rather than him. He then leads a free life while staying young and beautiful, but his portrait matures and records Gray's sins.
"I didn't think much about appearance before," Yu Di, who plays Hallward, remarked. "But, as I become older and more young and talented musical performers emerge, I do feel anxious, especially after hearing the director's explanation of the piece.
"The musical prompted me to ponder more deeply."
The Chinese musical is based on a South Korean version, but the costumes, stage settings, and the music are all different.
"Wilde's writing is very descriptive of beauty and people's inner worlds," said Zhou.
"The musical has the advantage of presenting all of these emotions through melody. As a theater director, I hastened the pace of the story to appeal to Chinese audiences. The story mainly centers around the three male characters, detailing how Basil and Wotton influenced and changed Dorian."
South Korean choreographer Shin Sun-Ho was invited to participate in the production in Shanghai.
"The requirement was for a completely new choreography for the musical. Every performer had to be involved instead of just a handful of characters," Shin said.
"The audiences will be able to make a distinction between good and evil in the music and movement of the dancers, which is sometimes melodious but also sharp and aggressive."
A 12-member band will provide live music during the performance. Other popular actors involved in the production are Ye Qisheng, Zhang Ze and Liu Yan.
Dates: March 3-12, 2pm, 7:30pm
Tickets: 180-980 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater
Address: 300 People's Ave