Musical fetes sister cities’ 30th
Burton Wolfe, executive and artistic director of the World Theatre, opened his home to about 20 performers from Shenzhen on Wednesday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Houston-Shenzhen sister city relationship.
Invited by the Mayor’s Office of Houston, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Administration of Shenzhen Municipality (CSTA-Shenzhen) sent performers from the Shenzhen Art Group to perform two shows of Metropolis, a Chinese-English bilingual Broadway-style musical depicting Houston’s sister city Shenzhen.
The show, which has sold out, will be performed Friday and Saturday night at the World Theatre in Katy, Texas.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of our sister city friendship, and we think this musical is the best piece representing the cultural exchange and collaboration between the two cities,” said the delegation leader Angela Miao, deputy secretary-general of the Shenzhen International Society for Performing and Visual Arts.
Jim Olive, president of the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association, said the performance is the culmination of the anniversary celebration: “We feel our mission is right on spot to realize President Eisenhower’s original vision in 1958 for person-to-person diplomacy.
“I just returned from Shenzhen, where we dedicated Houston books and maps to the Shenzhen library. We attended the conference of The Foundation of Shenzhen Sister Cities along with other 19 cities.”
Composed by Scott Gehman, Metropolis was written by Wolfe, and the Chinese portion was translated by Lawrence Wong, producer and director of operations at the World Theatre. It’s a collaborative project between CSTA-Shenzhen and the World Theatre.
“I have been involved in cultural exchange with China for over a decade and had brought Shenzhen performances to Houston’s International Festival in the past. I proposed the idea to the city of Shenzhen to do a musical about its history, and they can take the show to all of their sister cities. It got approved as a sister city project,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe did research and found that Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, was once a fishing village of about 2,000 people.
“Now it’s a modern metropolis with 15 million people as China’s third largest economy after Shanghai and Beijing,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe condensed Shenzhen’s development into a simple story: The plot is about how a grandfather had a vision of Shenzhen with tall buildings, and he told his grandson, who eventually became mayor of Shenzhen and made the vision come true.
Burton Wolfe (right), executive and artistic director of World Theatre in Texas, introduces composer Scott Gehman (second from right) to performers of Shenzhen and delegation leader Angela Miao (second from left) on Wednesday.