Thursday, April 21, 2011


I'm not a big one for musicals. Never seen Cats, Les Miz, Phantom and all those West End shows. So I felt something of an imposter when invited to attend the result of a 10-day workshop for 30 students from the Central Academy of Drama here in Beijing, London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and Arts Educational Schools, which is the cumbersome name for a drama school based in Chiswick.

The idea was to create a 40-minute musical work on the theme of Romeo & Juliet with songs from the 1999 Terrence Mann rock musical of the same name, West Side Story (of course), other songs in Chinese on the same theme, and a few bits of Shakespeare spoken text for good measure. Given that they started from scratch, couldn't speak each other's language and had only 10 days, the results were seriously impressive. The project was part of their curricula so we're not expecting a tour or anything, but it's an amazing experience to have when you're a youngster and, who knows, maybe something will come of it.    

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