Mu­si­cal fetes sis­ter cities’ 30th

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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.

MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

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.

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