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Bringing Broadway to Ha Noi

Update: August, 13/2012 - 09:56

Glee: Performers rehearse for L'Avenue in Ha Noi. The show, inspired by Broadway musicals, debuts tonight.— File Photo

HA NOI — An amateur cast will perform contemporary hit songs in a Broadway musical-inspired revue in Ha Noi tonight entited L'Avenue.

The show is the spiritual offspring of 21-year-old Nguyen Phi Phi Anh, a student in the theatre department at the University of New Hampshire in the US.

"I can't deny that I have a great interest in Broadway musicals and I've never ever missed any opportunity to enjoy them," said Anh, adding with a wink, "I can't create a true Broadway musical, but at least I can do something remotely related."

Anh started to write the book for his dream show last October. The resulting revue is a combination of musical performances, drama and contemporary dance.

Unlike most of the Broadway-inspired shows presented in Viet Nam before, in which performers sang Vietnamese songs unsuited to Broadway musical conventions, Anh staged his show around contemporary international hits.

"Alongside some songs from famous musicals, such as Cell Block Tango and Roxie from Chicago, Masquerade from Phantom of the Opera and Memory from Cats, I also present hits by Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Katy Perry," Anh said. "I'm sure young audiences will be attracted by this."

He also wrote Vietnamese lyrics for these songs because "whenever the audiences can understand the lyrics they will be able to enjoy the entire song, which is an important part of the show. Plus, the Vietnamese lyrics have been written to fit the story about a love triangle."

Anh completed writing the show in January. "It's not only pure entertainment but also presents modern social matter," he said.

"I don't dare to stick the word Broadway on my stage product. As all Broadway musicals require extremely high artistry, my experimental product is just something humble. But I'm sure that it's very fresh and ‘teenage'."

Anh, whose drama Making Nice won the bronze prize at the Singapore Youth Festival in 2010, invited his friend Nguyen Minh Anh to join the project as a choreographer. Although Minh Anh was a business student at the National University of Singapore, he had a great love for dance which has given him many experiences in the field, Phi Anh said.

"I had no doubts about his ability and no hesitation to invite him to join me," Phi Anh said.

To prepare for the show, the duo asked the Viet Nam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright for help obtaining permission to use several internationally famous songs. They then called on volunteer performers on Facebook as well as at colleges and universities in Ha Noi. Out of more than 200 applicants, 27 performers and seven musicians, ages 16-23, were selected.

The amateur cast then went through 50 hours per week of rehearsals during a six-week period starting at the beginning of July.

Phi Anh expects the audiences, especially young people, will enjoy his two-hour-and-40-minute show and get a taste of the experience of Broadway musicals.

The show will open at 8pm today and run through Thursday at L'Espace, 24 Trang Tien Street. Tickets are VND150,000, VND200,000 and VND250,000 and are available at L'Espace or by calling 01667295388. — VNS

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