China to have its own Broadway theater
Chinese fans of Broadway musicals will in the near future no longer have to brave the long flight to New York as Shanghai will be getting its very own theater dedicated to such performances.
Located along the northern Bund area in the city’s Hongkou district, the SIIC (Shanghai Industrial Investment) Center Theater will be part of a new development by the Stateowned and Hong Kong-listed SIIC that also includes office buildings and malls. The theater is scheduled for completion in 2021.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the project took place at Hotel Peninsula on Sept 27, alongside the official establishment of a new joint venture: the SIIC Nederlander Culture Development Co. Ltd, which will be the owner and manager of the new theater.
“This will be Shanghai’s first authentic Broadway theater,” said Bob Nederlander, president of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, one of the world’s largest theater owners and musical producers.
According to Nederlander, who hails from the third generation of the entertainment company, China has proven to be a very dynamic market for musicals and the new joint venture will continue to strive to bring quality productions from China to the world and vice versa.
Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment currently runs the top three box office theaters on Broadway and its productions have won prestigious accolades such as the Tony and Grammy Awards.
“We at Nederlander welcome Shanghai’s newest theater to the pantheon of great Broadway theaters, which will strengthen the connection between the cultural industries of Broadway and Shanghai,” said Nederlander.
The new 2,000-seat theater will be designed by Paul Westlake and Tom Gallagher from Westlake Reed Leskosky, an architecture firm well known for their theater designs.
According to Nederlander, the company is committed to providing the best in audience development, customer service and operations, factors it has identified as necessary for a good and complete theater experience for audiences.
“Those of us in the industry know that what is being performed onstage is just a tiny fraction of the work necessary to achieve both commercial and cultural success,” said Nederlander.
“Nederlander shall bring our 104 years of refined Broadway management expertise to offer Shanghai and visiting audiences an authentic Broadway experience.”
One of the first offerings by this new joint venture will be a China national tour for the Broadway musical The Producers. Adapted from a Mel Brooks’ film of the same name, the original production premiered in 2001 and had won 12 Tony awards.
According to Xu Junying, vice president of SIIC Nederlander Culture Development, the new SIIC Center Theater will have an artist-in-residence plan as the theater regards education as an important part of its business. She also added that China’s musical industry has been faced with a shortage of talents and professionals, and that this initiative will benefit the performance arts community.
American composer and musical producer Frank Wildhorn was named as the first artist in residence. Known for his musical creation Jekyll & Hyde, Wildhorn has worked extensively in Asia in the past decade, with one of his most notable achievements being the creation of a successful musical adaptation of the popular manga series Death Note in Japan.
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Officials from SIIC and Nederlander attend the groundbreaking ceremony for China's first Broadway theater.