LOVE IS ABOUT DIRECTION
A musical based on Taiwan illustrator Jimmy Liao’s popular graphic novel, is coming to Beijing. Chen Nan reports.
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.
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The musical TurnLeft,TurnRight—Love,OrRegret will be staged in Beijing in March.