Cải lương actress Kim Huệ dies in HCM City at age 66

December 24, 2021 - 14:11
Meritorious Artist Thanh Kim Huệ died of cancer on December 23 in HCM City. She was 66. 


Cải lương legend: Meritorious Artist Thanh Kim Huệ died of cancer on December 23 in HCM City. She was 66 and had 45 years of experience in Vietnamese theatre. — Photo courtesy of the artist’s family

HCM CITY — Artist Thanh Kim Huệ died of cancer on Thursday in HCM City. She was 66 years old. 

Actress Huệ had a 45-year-old career in cải lương (reformed opera), a 100-year-old traditional theatre genre of the southern region. 

Huệ, whose real name is Bùi Thị Huệ, began her career at an early age in Sài Gòn (now HCM City).

During her stage debut for the Hằng Xuân-An Khương Troupe in 1965, she bowled over the audience with her stunning voice, looks and performance.   

She performed for leading cải lương troupes in the region, such as Dạ Minh Châu and Kim Chung, becoming one of the brightest stars in the genre.

In 1974, she worked for Xuân Liên Hoa, a cải lương troupe owned by talented actor Thanh Điền, who later became her husband. 

Her strong and melodic voice and stage presence helped Huệ leave an indelible mark on the art, enabling the artist to use her popularity to promote the art form. 

Huệ had won several top prizes at theatre festivals and contests, and performed in several hundreds of plays, videos and movies. 

In 2019, Huệ and her husband, Meritorious Artist Điền, launched a theatre project with a series of cải lương plays from the 1940s to 1950s.  

The famous plays were restaged as new versions by young actors of leading theatres and traditional art troupes in HCM City and southern provinces. 

Many of the plays are set to released on YouTube as the best way to attract fans during the pandemic. 

Another project Huệ was involved in was 100 Năm Sân Khấu Cải Lương (A Hundred Years of Cải Lương Theatre). 

The project began last year and aimed to preserve cải lương by recording the events, plays and artists of cải lương since the art began in Mỹ Tho, Tiền Giang Province. 

It also features TV shows outlining the history of cải lương, as well as songs and plays performed by veteran and young artists. The shows include famous extracts from historical plays staged in the 1950s and 1970s. 

100 Năm Sân Khấu Cải Lương has received support from the HCM City Television and HCM City Theatre Association, as well as many young and veteran performers from the southern region.

“Huệ’s devotion to cải lương was invaluable,” said theatre critic Thanh Hiệp of HCM City Theatre Artists’ Association. — VNS