Nightly feasts of sights and sounds for vis­i­tors look­ing for thrills

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By RAYMONDZHOU SHI XIAOFENG

A night on the town in Hangzhou presents a rich ar­ray of op­tions. You can go par­ty­ing at one of the trendy clubs or you can sa­vor a mo­ment of Zen tran­quil­ity at one of the tra­di­tion­ally dec­o­rated tea­houses. The eas­i­est choice, though, is to act like a typ­i­cal tourist and take in one of the long-run­ning shows that com­bine Las Ve­gas-style glitz with lo­cal legends and folk­lore.

Night ofWest Lake is staged at the cen­trally lo­cated Dongpo The­ater, which is a few min­utes’ walk from the lake.

Dongpo,al­so­know­nasSuShi, the Song Dy­nasty (960-1279) poet and one-time Hangzhou gover­nor, does not make an ap­pear­ance in the re­vue.

But other no­ta­bles such as Yue Fei, Madame White Snake NightofWestLake Ro­mance­oftheSongDy­nasty. and the But­ter­fly Lovers grace the stage, as ex­pected. You don’t need to read up on his­tory to un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing on stage if lo­cals have been ea­gerly re­count­ing the sto­ries since you first ar­rived in the city.

This Gold Coast pro­duc­tion has been serv­ing view­ers an­nu­ally opened in 2005.

The com­pany is pre­par­ing an­other show more in the style of the Ve­gas O Show by Cirque du Soleil, tar­get­ing a dif­fer­ent clien­tele, at West Lake Cul­tural Square. 400,000 since it Im­pres­sionWestLake

Ro­mance of the Song Dy­nasty, which orig­i­nated 20 years ago from an open-air per­for­mance, has been wow­ing ca­pac­ity au­di­ences to the tune of 7 mil­lion spec­ta­tors a year, with two large venues side by side in the Songcheng theme park.

At its busiest, it runs a whop­ping 15 shows a day.

In terms of con­tent, the show treads the same ground as Night of West Lake, with the epic bat­tles by the Yue war­riors as well as the two star-crossed cou­ples. But the same script has spawned dif­fer­ent treat­ments and Ro­mance seems to have more high-tech piz­zazz.

For ex­am­ple, the rain on stage is at­mo­spher­i­cally mir­rored by a mist in the au­di­ence — moist enough to feel but not too wet to cause dis­com­fort.

Aticket for theshow­in­cludes atourofthep­ark, whichis quite com­pressed by Chi­nese stan­dards but of­fers a wealth of fam­ily entertainment.

Mean­while, be­sides a sec­ond park in Hangzhou, across the Qiantang River, Songcheng has in re­cent years ex­panded to other tourist cities like Sanya in Hainan prov­ince, Lijiang in Yun­nan prov­ince and Ji­uzhaigou in Sichuan prov­ince, with sim­i­lar one-hour ex­trav­a­gan­zas, but with lo­cal sto­ries.

Separately, famed film di­rec­tor Zhang Yi­mou was hired to pro­duce a lo­cal edi­tion of his “Im­pres­sion” se­ries of open-air spec­ta­cles, which have been run­ning since 2007.

Be­ing an open-air show, it is sub­ject to the va­garies of Mother Na­ture, but the lake is part of the show.

And un­like the other two shows, it does away with the nar­ra­tive elements, con­tain­ing in­stead snip­pets from var­i­ous tales, but mostly pro­ject­ing a dreamy aura and an “im­pres­sion­is­tic” tableau that de­fines the city as a fa­vorite hang­out for love­birds, past and present.

If you sawthe open­ing cer­e­mony of the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics, you know what you are in for.

But Im­pres­sionWest Lake is “re­strained” by Zhang’s stan­dards.

Af­ter all, the lake is the pro­tag­o­nist and, as the old Chi­nese say­ing goes: It doesn’t mat­ter if the makeup is heavy or not, she is sim­ply a beauty be­yond com­pare.

and is a fa­mous in­door show in Hangzhou, as equally fa­mous as This Gold Coast pro­duc­tion has been serv­ing 400,000 view­ers an­nu­ally since it opened in 2005.

RAY­MOND ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

In the old days there were many work­shops and man­u­fac­tur­ers in Hangzhou and its vicin­ity that spe­cial­ized in mak­ing um­brel­las.

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