LOVE IS ABOUT DI­REC­TION

A mu­si­cal based on Tai­wan il­lus­tra­tor Jimmy Liao’s pop­u­lar graphic novel, is com­ing to Bei­jing. Chen Nan re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

He is a vi­o­lin­ist, and she trans­lates books. They are neigh­bors who haven’t met be­cause he al­ways turns right and she al­ways turns left when they leave their houses.

Then, one day, they fi­nally meet by chance out­side the neigh­bor­hood and fall in love. But the rain ru­ins pieces of pa­per which they use to ex­change phone num­bers.

So, they be­gin to look for each other again, with­out know­ing they live nearby.

The story is from A Chance of Sun­shine, a graphic novel by ac­claimed Tai­wan il­lus­tra­tor Jimmy Liao.

The book has sold mil­lions of copies in­China since be­ing pub­lished in 1999. Turn Left, Turn Right, a 2003 film di­rected by Hong Kong veter­ans John­nie To and Wai Ka-fai, with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Gigi Le­ung in the lead roles, has been the most suc­cess­ful adap­ta­tion of the novel so far. TVseries have also been made on the story.

Bei­jing res­i­dents can watch the ro­man­tic tale un­fold on­stage later this month through the mu­si­cal Turn Left, Turn Right— Love, Or Re­gret, which is helmed by Tai­wan the­ater di­rec­tor Li Huan-hsi­ung. The mu­si­cal has toured other parts of Asia since 2008, when it de­buted in Taipei.

The fourth ver­sion of the mu­si­cal, pro­duced by the Mr Wing The­ater Com­pany Li founded in 2006, will be pre­sented in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal March 24-27, with Tai­wan singer-ac­tress Waa Wei star­ring as the hero­ine and Chi­nese-Amer­i­can singer-ac­tor DawenWang as the male lead.

The novel’s au­thor, Liao, 57, used to work in an ad­ver­tise­ment agency be­fore fully de­vot­ing him­self to writ­ing. He wrote A Chance of Sun­shine while bat­tling leukemia. One day, when he was rest­ing at home, he be­gan to won­der who his un­seen im­me­di­ate neigh­bor was as he heard noises of ren­o­va­tion from the house next-door. That was how he came up with the story’s cen­tral idea.

Li, the mu­si­cal’s di­rec­tor and a long­time friend of the au­thor, says: “The story res­onated with me not just be­cause of the ro­mance but also be­cause of the de­scrip­tion of peo­ple’s re­la­tion­ships. For peo­ple like us, who live in Taipei, a fast-paced city, it’s easy to ig­nore beau­ti­ful things, such as meet­ing strangers.”

Li in­vited award-win­ning song­writer Chen Chien-chi andWu Ts­ing-fong to write more than 30 songs for the mu­si­cal. In 2012, in the mu­si­cal’s third ver­sion, the di­rec­tor added two roles — a woman who looks for her cat and a rock mu­si­cian who pur­sues his dream — to sup­ple­ment the main char­ac­ters.

Tai­wan singer-song­writer Joanna Wang plays the role of the woman look­ing for her cat. The 27-year-old, who rose to fame early af­ter re­leas­ing her bilin­gual de­but al­bum, Start From Here, says that she was at­tracted to the mu­si­cal be­cause of Li’s po­etic ap­proach and a “dream­like at­mos­phere” the story creates on­stage.

“I en­joy singing as some­one else rather than as­my­self,” saysWang. “It’s sur­real.”

The mu­si­cal’s pro­ducer, Chang Bao­huey, who was re­cently in Bei­jing along with mem­bers of the cast, says that while the orig­i­nal novel re­mains un­clear on whether the two main char­ac­ters fi­nally get to­gether, the mu­si­cal ends on a happy note.

In 2012, Li turned Sound of Col­ors, an­other pop­u­lar graphic novel by Liao, into a mu­si­cal as well.

Prais­ing Liao for the ef­fec­tive use of col­ors in his draw­ings, Chang says that such sto­ries bring out the char­ac­ters’ emo­tions when told as mu­si­cals.

Con­tact the writer at chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The mu­si­cal TurnLeft,TurnRight—Love,OrRe­gret will be staged in Bei­jing in March.

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