US Entertainment Leader Wants Wuhan City
(Reporter Wang Juan)
Broadway musical is every music lover’s most wanted. Yesterday, Toby Simkin, Vice President and Executive Producer of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, announced its partnership with Wuhan Arts and Cultural Organization. Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment will introduce a series of Broadway musicals in Wuhan over the next 10 years and starting with the musical 42ndStreet.
Wuhan is part of the 10-year plan
Over the past four years, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment has been developing plans to introduce Broadway musicals to China. According to Mr. Simkin, a long-term plan is needed for the success of Broadway musicals in china. Other than focusing on the performances, this plan should include theater renovation as well as expanding lodging and restaurant industry in the surrounding areas. Currently, this plan is set for 10 years and Wuhan is an important part of the proposal. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, a total of 5 cities are also being considered. Mr. Simkin has been studying the politics, local partners, arts and cultural program, venues and the audience at every city that he visited. Report says Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment has a great reputation over the years and currently manages 9 theatres on Broadway. Not only the hub for producing famous Broadway musicals, but Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment also involves in many other projects like concerts, sports events, television, cable…etc. The company has produced or co-produced Oklahoma, West Side Story, Chicago, Sunset Boulevard, Beauty and the Beast, Aida, and many, many more. The Lion King also premiered at one of Nederlander’s theatres.
42nd Street will be the first musical being introduced in this 10-year plan. But why 42nd Street instead of the musicals that people in China are already familiar with, like Cats, Les Miserables, or The Phantom of the Opera? Mr. Simkin describes, musicals are expensive to produce and they take an extensive run to make profits. Cats and The Phantom of the Opera have been performed in China and it’s probably not the best idea to bring back shows that people have already seen. Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment wants to provide something new and exciting for people to look forward to.
Originality equals good quality
Broadway musicals are legendary. Shows are not only attractive, but also full with western ethnicity. How can Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment guarantee to provide true Broadway performances when shows are from across the globe?
Mr. Simkin explains, “From our many years of producing experience, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment targets nothing but true Broadway style musicals. Other than performers, the company will also have a large team of producing and managing personnel traveling with the show, as well as production, artistic staff, and crewmembers.” There will be around three or four hundred people to work on the production including all the planning and coordinating personnel.
Mr. Simkin says, “If there are 50 performers on stage, then there are definitely more than 50 people backstage running the show. Mr. Simkin also says the audience shouldn’t be feeling any difference seeing the show in Wuhan with Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment’s team of cast and crew. The only difference might be that the theaters in China are much larger than on Broadway.
Most people don’t believe the Chinese audiences are ready for musicals. When “Cats” announced its nearly 100 performances in Shanghai, a lot people had doubts. But Mr. Simkin is quite optimistic and believes in Chinese audiences’ interest in arts. “Wuhan attracts a high volume of tourists because of the central location for great schools and various businesses. It shouldn’t be too difficult to introduce musicals here”, Mr. Simkin says.
In his opinions, language is not a barrier for appreciating musicals. He explains that 11% of audiences on Broadway are from non-English speaking countries. People appreciate musicals through this “ShowTrans” equipment. This infrared equipment is not doing simultaneous interpretation, but providing a brief explanation of the current scene. “The technology is well-developed and widely accepted. We believe people in China can benefit from this technology as well. Furthermore, musicals are about the music and music is an international language.”
Mr. Simkin also indicates the importance of cultivating audiences. It is something that Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment is still focusing on after being in the industry for nearly a hundred years. In order to help the Chinese developing a habit of seeing musicals, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment will adjust the program accordingly.
Audiences in Wuhan are concerned about the ticket price. Mr. Simkin also has the same concern. He indicates, in order to maintain the performance level and to create a reasonable price range in Wuhan, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment will create different approaches to reduce the managing cost.