Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin

Lu Chang China Plus Published: 2018-09-14 17:16:36
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Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin

Oscar nomination French film "The Chorus" is going to be adapted into musical in mandarin. [Photo: baidu.com]

Musicals have been gaining popularity in China in recent years, and several localized works have been quite successful. These include mandarin versions of Cats, Mamma Mia, Avenue Q and the Sound of Music.

As another international hit from France is going to be adapted into Chinese, insiders say this imported art form has a promising future in China. 

Written by Lu Chang and voiced by Yang Yong.

Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin

Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin. [Photo: baidu.com]

"The Chorus", or 《放牛班的春天》in Chinese, is a 2004 Oscar nominated French film about a teacher changing the lives of students at a boys' boarding school through music. In 2017, it was adapted into a stage musical and soon become a gigantic hit in France. 

"The performers did an excellent job on the stage."

"The children sang so beautiful, like angels."


"I even trembled at the end of the show. It's so great to feel the touches once again in the theater."

Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin

The musical version of "The Chorus" has debuted in France and won success. [Photo: 20 minutes. fr]

Now for the first time, it will be adapted into a mandarin version and it will be staged in China. Yang Jiamin, CEO of Seven Ages Investment Co. Ltd, says she has high expectation for the stage play.

"I would imagine everyone would get deeply touched if the songs would be heard in life in the theater. It's more like a ceremony when we hear a group of kids singing the beautiful songs in theater. I think the experience will be quite different from the movie, but in a better way."

Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin

Yang Jiamin, CEO of Seven Ages Investment Co. Ltd. [Photo provided by Seven Ages]

French director Christophe Barratier echos this view, adding that the musical will bring audiences a brand new experience.

"The audiences can not only go over the figures and music in the original film, but also see new roles and hear new songs in this musical version. New melodies fuse with the nostalgic rhythm, that makes this stage work a new creation. It's not just a copy of the original story."

Oscar nomination "The Chorus" to be adapted into musical in mandarin

Christophe Barratier, director of “The Chorus”. [Photo provided by Seven Ages]

And he is confident that the story will hit the Chinese market again. 

"I knew almost nothing about Asia when I was making the film. When I first arrived China in Shanghai, that's only 6 months after the film debuted and won success in France, before it became an international hit. At that time I saw a huge billboard of "Les Choristes" outside a movie theatre. I felt like I was in a dream, I entered the theater, and surprisingly, there was a group of Chinese kids singing the song from the film - The scene was incredibly dreamlike for me, hearing the song I once wrote on my small desk a year later in this mysterious oriental country. At that time I knew little about China, but it was in China where I realized the story could touch hearts from different culture backgrounds. "

A teacher who tames the savage hearts of his pupils, through firmness, kindness, and understanding, it seems that these themes are universal and will never disappoint audiences, especially with the beautiful melodies and good story-telling. 

Yang Jiamin has been working on bringing western musicals to China for years. She says the industry is entering a very positive new age in China. 

"I think the whole market grows really rapidly. For instance, Seven Ages have witnessed like 100% growth every year. That's one thing. Another thing is I think the audiences are much maturer than years ago. There are not only tracing after those are big titles, but they will start to choose the musicals that will really touch their heart or have great renaissance with their spirit."

Importing western musical theatre to China can be very challenging, and whether this localization process can keep the original flavour has been much debated. At the same time, a number of production companies have been tapping into this market, and more original Broadway big titles have won box office or scheduled in Chinese theaters, including The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, My fair lady, and Rent. 

However, Yang Jiamin sees more opportunities than challenges.

"To me, it's an opportunity because the market is so big in china, and there're more and more players entering this market. At least at this stage, I think it's still a good thing instead of a competing thing. It's rising rapidly, but it's still in early stage. And I think when the market grows to its mature stage, then it depends whoever can make the best musicals to the audience."

The mandarin version of "The Chorus" is going to be staged in China in 2019.

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