The title says it all. The A O Show, which translates phonetically as the Ahhh! Ohhh! Show, is being touted as the first variety performance of its kind in HCM City. Its producers claim it offers something completely different from other Vietnamese traditional arts.
Local audiences have been curious about Ahhh! Ohhh!, which has largely been under wraps since trial performances in January. The show was launched officially at the end of last month to join cultural events appearing under Tourism Days in HCM City from April 1-7.
Production executive Trung Vo spoke about A O Show and his hopes to make it a must for tourists to the city.
The A O Show is produced by a private company called Lune Entertainment. Could you explain its origins?
We aim to present an interesting mix of the new and the old, combining elements of Vietnamese music and dance in a circus-like atmosphere on stage. Busy tourist locations in other parts of Asia, such as Siam Niramit in Thailand and Smile of Angkor in Cambodia, have developed strong entertainment shows.
When visiting HCM City, foreign tourists have a few choices for entertainment. Our company wants to provide something which will fill this gap. The A O Show is based on southern Vietnamese culture. It will not only serve tourists but also local residents. Our artists and investors share a strong belief in the concept.
How long has it taken to put the show together?
We had rehearsals from January 15 to 29. And we ran trial performances for Vietnamese and foreign audience to get a feel for audience opinion. We also sought views from tourist guides and tourism company representatives. We will continue to bring all this together from now until September.
The A O Show artists are confident about their acts, but are still prepared to learn and listen to opinions from different angles. Audience opinions, including those from French stage directors and well known Vietnamese, have contributed to the mix.
Dramatic shows in English and other forms of entertainment have failed to lure tourists, so what is the outlook for Lune Entertainment?
We studied the positive and negative effects of previous shows to avoid making the same mistakes. We eventually decided that three factors were needed to guarantee success - distinctive content, strong backing from business partners and a full performance schedule. Our goal is to contribute a successful product to the city's tourism sector.
After winning over local audiences, we aim to take the show abroad. While performing abroad will be a feather in our cap, it is not an immediate priority. With advice from some French directors, we plan to make another version of the A O Show to perform in Europe next year.
Bamboo features strongly in the show. Why?
Bamboo represents Asia and is used in a myriad ways. This is shown in the stage sets. We visited many localities, such as Phu An bamboo village in the province of Binh Duong and coracle making villages in southern coastal provinces.The coracle is such an ancient craft both here and in Celtic countries. We hired retired fishermen to produce some for us. — VNS