Based on the tragic tale of Giacomo Puccini’s operatic masterpiece Madame Butterfly, Cho Cho is a brilliant musical theatre work set in Shanghai about the heroine’s life combining drama, puppetry, poetry and music. This reimagined performance will spread its wings at Arts Centre Melbourne for a limited season in October 2013.
Presented by the National Theatre of China, Arts Centre Melbourne and Playking Productions, Cho Cho’s (then Cho Cho San) first incarnation was as a puppet play by playwright Daniel Keene and Handspan in 1984 before it was picked up by Playbox in 1986 and subsequently presented in Australia and China in 1988 by the Playbox Theatre Company.
This latest version is directed by Peter Wilson (Puppetry Director for King Kong, Dragon Child) and is a reimagined production which features a reworked script, completely new musical score by Chinese composer Cheng Jin and new design by Richard Jezorney. Polish / Australian actor/director Lech Mackiewicz is the re-rehearsal director for the Australian production.
The original story was inspired by the then-common Japanese custom of allowing foreign visitors to take ‘temporary’ wives; even as American sailor Pinkerton prepares to marry Cho Cho (the butterfly), he is toasting his future ‘real’ American wife.
After the wedding night Pinkerton returns back to his ship with false promises to return. Three years later, the now single mother Cho Cho is still scanning the empty horizon.
Relocated to 1930s Shanghai with a young Chinese girl waiting for her American merchant navy lover, this reimaging of Cho Cho, performed in both English and Mandarin, features a half Chinese and half Australian cast including Australian well-known actors/singers, Scott Irwin (Hairspray), David Whitney (Bell Shakespeare ’s Henry 4) and Danielle Barnes, with one of China’s most popular singers Wang Zheng and the National Theatre of China’s Dong Wen Liang and Du He.
The original music has been composed by well-known Chinese film, television and theatre composer and songwriter Cheng Jin who worked with Peter Wilson on Dragon Child, a co-production between Arts Centre Melbourne and China National Children’s Arts Theatre in 2008.
Featuring music reminiscent of 1930’s Shanghai nightclubs, London’s West End and traditional Chinese music, the performance also features a four-piece cabaret band.
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, St. Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Season: 2 – 6 October 2013
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: artscentremelbourne.com.au
For more information, visit: artscentremelbourne.com.au for details.
Image: Cho Cho