Drama troupes in HCM City are focusing on attracting audiences and tourists by staging more musical productions.
One of HCM City’s leading drama troupes, IDECAF, is preparing a new musical based on the award-winning Vietnamese movie about cải lương (reformed opera), Song Lang (The Tap Box).
Directed by Leon Lê, the film features a group of cải lương artists in HCM City who face challenges in the 1980s to preserve their special art form. It stars young actors Liên Bỉnh Phát and Issac.
Song Lang won five Golden Lotus awards at the 21st Việt Nam National Film Festival in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province in December last year, including best feature film and best director.
EPIC: IDECAF's 2017 musical drama Tiên Nga (Fairy Tale), a production based on the 19th century Vietnamese epic poem LụcVân Tiênby poet Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, left a strong impression on critics and audiences. Photo courtesy of producer
The film has also won top prizes at numerous local and international film festivals.
“We have enough resources for staging musicals featuring Vietnamese culture and song. We're proud that we've worked so hard to bring our own productions to the stage,” Huỳnh Anh Tuấn, owner of IDECAF Drama Troupe, told local media.
IDECAF is considered a pioneer in producing musical dramas in the city.
Its musical series for children called Ngày Xửa Ngày Xưa (Once Upon a Time) was a favourite among children and adults. The series began in 1997 and has 32 parts.
In 2017, the troupe achieved great success with Tiên Nga (Fairy Tale), a production based on the 19th century Vietnamese epic poem Lục Vân Tiên by poet Nguyễn Đình Chiểu,
The play is about the life of Lục Vân Tiên, a poor student who travels to the capital to take a civil service examination for mandarins. He rescues Kiều Nguyệt Nga, a beautiful woman from a wealthy family, from a robbery. They fall in love, but cannot be together because of feudal society's mores.
Tiên Nga, written by People’s Artist Năm Châu and directed by Meritorious Artist Thành Lộc, left a strong impression on audiences after 40 shows. It received awards given by the HCM City People’s Committee for critically and publicly acclaimed literature and art works created from 2012 to 2018.
Trần Ngọc Châu, 40, of District 2, said: "I hope the city's theatres introduce more Vietnamese musical dramas. It's a way to promote Vietnamese culture."
People’s Artist Hồng Vân, owner of two of HCM City’s leading theatres, Phú Nhuận and Chợ Lớn, said: “Musicals play an important part in the city’s theatre scene since they introduce Vietnamese culture and traditions to the public and visitors.”
Vân’s first musical Ngẫm Kiều (Song of Kiều) released in HCM City in the Lunar New Year received praise for its performers, music and costumes.
ALL AGES: IDECAF's musical drama series for children called Ngày Xửa Ngày Xưa (Once upon A Time) is a favourite among children and adults. The series began in 1997 and has 32 parts. Photo courtesy of the producer
The production is based on the 18th-century Vietnamese epic poem Truyện Kiều (The Tale of Kiều) written by great poet Nguyễn Du, recounting the life and trials of Thúy Kiều, a talented young woman who is forced to sacrifice herself to save her family.
Ngẫm Kiều is written by Lê Quốc Nam and directed by People’s Artist Hồng Vân. Its music is composed by Nguyễn Văn Chung, reflecting traditional Vietnamese music and song. The production stars young actors like My Trần, Phạm Yến, Trịnh Duy Anh, and Tuấn Dũng.
“My actors practised a lot. They expect to highlight the beauty of Vietnamese culture through their performances,” said Vân, who has more than 25 years of experience in the industry.
Vân is launching training courses in singing, dancing and acting for 57 young artists from her troupe to prepare for new works in 2020.
Trần Yến Chi, head of the training department at the HCM City University of Theatre and Cinematography, said the school offered training courses in dancing and singing for acting students. To develop the city's music scene, the city’s theatres should focus on offering training in dancing and singing skills to young artists. VNS