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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wahooo! My People are Taking Over!

YES! A new show is coming to Branson this year and I can NOT wait to see it. OK. So it will be competition for our show but...I am SO EXCITED!

As many of you know, I am a VERY Americanized Chinese person. My parents forced me to go to Chinese School, play tennis, piano, the whole bit. As every self-respecting Chinese Child knows, it's embarrassing when they talked to you in Chinese around your American friends. More so because that was when they were reprimanding you BUT ALWAYS with that Chinese Smile. The One that made all your friends say, "You Mom is always so nice and smiles all the time." Yep, you know what I mean. Granted, I did deserve the majority of those reprimands but we won't go there. We also won't talk about the fact that, of course, they were right. Now I'm kicking myself for not paying attention in all of those Chinese classes.

SO, my point is...on the outside I was always trying to shed the whole Chinese thing as a kid. In college I finally grew to respect my history and culture and got on a Chinese kick. I especially cling to those roots now that I have lived in Branson for almost 8 years. I am one of a handful of Chinese people that live here, so I love it when we get Chinese people at our show or hear the occasional conversation in town. It was quite the adjustment moving from California. When I first moved out here and mentioned that I was in a show, most people assumed I was one of the Chinese Acrobats. Ummmmmm, NOoooo.

OK, I got off topic. The Show. It's a new show that is coming this May and it tells about the history of Kung-fu. YES! I LOVE martial arts and can watch it for hours. Here is an article that was in the China Daily.

Fighting fit for U.S. stage 2010-01-14 10:19:03 Print

BEIJING, Jan. 14 -- More Americans will soon be able to see Chinese shows, since a Beijing company bought a theater in Branson, Missouri. Wu Chong in New York and Mu Qian in Beijing report

China has taken over the White House - not in Washington DC, but in Branson, Missouri.

The White House Theater will open on May 1 with the first show Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu. Photos courtesy of China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company

The White House Theater will open on May 1 with the first show Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu. Photos courtesy of China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company (Photo Source: China Daily)
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Last month, the Beijing-based China Heaven Creation International Performing Arts Company purchased a theater called the White House Theater in Branson, a small town in the American Midwest and a popular destination for American vacationers.

The theater will be a base for China Heaven Creation to develop its United States market, and its first show is Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu, which has been staged more than 3,000 times at home and abroad.

The White House Theater deal, worth $3.54 million, marks the first time a Chinese company has purchased a theater in the United States. It is the second venue in Branson to feature Chinese performing arts, after the New Shanghai Circus, whose forte is acrobatics.

"We also investigated New York and Las Vegas but found that this theater in Branson was the best deal we can get," says Cao Xiaoning, executive chairman of China Heaven Creation. "A city with a great number of visitors and a strong tradition of show business, Branson is strategically located for developing (our business) in the US."

With a population of about 7,000, Branson attracts approximately 8 million visitors each year, mostly American families. Besides its beautiful landscape and extensive water sports facilities, theater arts is another primary attraction of Branson. It boasts more than 50 live performance theaters in town and even more theater seats than Broadway. With 1,200 seats, the 15-year-old White House Theater is one of the biggest in Branson.

The theater will open on May 1 with Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu, a show that blends Chinese kungfu, dance and original music. It involves about 60 performers, besides set designer Han Lixun, chief creative director of set design for the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, among others.

"More than 100 theater works are performed in Branson every year, most of which are nostalgic American-style shows, such as the Andy Williams Variety Show and Peter Pan. I believe that our show will bring something refreshing to American audiences," Cao says.

Premiering in 2004 in Beijing, Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu has toured Canada, Japan, Russia and the UK, with 574 performances held outside China. From May, the White House Theater will hold two shows a day.

"We've had people call in for reservations. The local communities are very open to international influences," says Anna Koelling, general manager of the theater.

Koelling was hired only four days before the deal was inked on Dec 16, and is currently one of the few full-time employees there. However, the theater will recruit more Americans, including a chief financial officer and a marketing director, according to China Heaven Creation.

Branson Chamber of Commerce President Ross Summers, who was present at the signing of the deal, says that he believes this is a good opportunity for the White House Theater and is excited about the upcoming kungfu production.

"The show appears to be world-class and successful in other cities. Once word of mouth gets around, the local people will (be drawn to) appreciate a good performance," he says.

But Summers also warns that it won't be easy for the Chinese company. "It will take a couple of years to build an audience. Also, as far as business practice goes, there's a learning curve on both sides (Branson and Heaven Creation)," he says. "But we're prepared to help them."

(Xinhua Photo)
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China Travel International Investment Hong Kong Limited, the main investor in China Heaven Creation, once owned the Florida Splendid China, a $100 million theme park which opened in 1993 near Walt Disney World, but closed in 2003 because of poor business. Cao, who used to work for Florida Splendid China, believes the experience gained there will help him to run the White House Theater better.

"The Florida Splendid China was too nationalistic, but in Chun Yi: The Legend of Kungfu we are trying to present a show of cosmopolitan values with Chinese characteristics, which is easy for people from various cultural backgrounds to accept," Cao says.

The show tells the story of a young boy who embarks on an epic journey to enlightenment after undergoing a series of formidable trials to earn the title "Chun Yi, The Pure One".

Cao says a conflict of roles between the Chinese and American staff also contributed to the failure of Florida Splendid China. To avoid a repetition, the White House Theater will make a clear division of responsibilities: the Chinese will be in charge of the show, and the Americans, the management of the theater.

"We are prepared to lose money in the first year, but we hope to make ends meet in the second year and begin to make a profit in the third," Cao says.

(Source: China Daily)

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