Jewish refugees make for mu­si­cal love story

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­

A new mu­si­cal will tell the sto­ries of Jewish refugees’ ex­pe­ri­ence in Shang­hai dur­ing World War II.

It is a story of friend­ship and un­spo­ken love be­tween a young Jewish en­gi­neer and a lo­cal col­lege girl who acts as a vol­un­teer to help ori­en­tate the refugees. Ac­cord­ing to the play­wright Rong Guan­grun, it was in­spired by a true story.

“There was a Jewish en­gi­neer who worked at a mu­ni­tions fac­tory owned by a busi­ness­man from Zhe­jiang prov­ince,” Rong said at the press con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the launch of the mu­si­cal.

The fac­tory he worked at was forced to pro­duce mu­ni­tions for the Ja­panese af­ter they oc­cu­pied the city. The en­gi­neer finds a way to sab­o­tage pro­duc­tion, aided by the vol­un­teer, who was later killed along with the busi­ness­man by the Ja­panese mil­i­tary.

will pre­miere at Shang­hai Cul­ture Square on Sept 3, the day China will cel­e­brate the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of the war.

The per­for­mance will be given in English and Chi­nese. Is­rael’s Sha­har Yishay, who post­poned his wed­ding to work in China, and Shang­hai actress Pan Qi will play the two leads.

The pro­duc­tion com­pany did much of its cast­ing in Is­rael.

“We saw so many great tal­ents. Some had lots of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in mu­si­cals,” said Xu Jun, the direc­tor.

In the in­ter­ests of verisimil­i­tude, Eliana Perl­man, wife of the con­sul-gen­eral of Is­rael in Shang­hai, served as a con­sul­tant for the play.

“The story about Jewish peo­ple in Shang­hai is a unique one. It’s not just about sur­vival, but also friend­ship be­tween the two peo­ple. The bond be­tween the two of us has never been bro­ken,” Perl­man said.

The Mu­seum of Jewish Refugees in Shang­hai also pro­vided his­tor­i­cal pho­to­graphs and doc­u­ments.

The press con­fer­ence took place on the old wharf along the Huangpu River, and a replica bridge, par­tially de­stroyed, was back­ground.

“Many years ago, more than 20,000 Jewish refugees landed in Shang­hai from right here and started their new life in their adopted coun­try,” said Chen Jian, direc­tor of the mu­seum.

“In Shang­hai, they have left lots of land­mark build­ings that are still stand­ing to­day. Jewish busi­ness­men have worked to­gether with the Chi­nese to help build the sky­line on the Bund, an im­por­tant part of the city’s her­itage.”

Their sto­ries have been told many times on stage and in lit­er­a­ture, he said. The lat­est mu­si­cal, with a bud­get of more than 10 mil­lion yuan ($1.61 mil­lion), is by far the largest pro­duc­tion to date.

built in the

Fei Yuan­hong, artis­tic direc­tor of Shang­hai Cul­ture Square, said the mu­si­cal is on such a heavy­weight sub­ject that it is like China’s equiv­a­lent of

“The play has at­tracted lots of in­ter­est among the in­ter­na­tional theater com­mu­nity,” he said.


Sha­har Yishay

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