Great Theater of China to get its mojo back

Updated 2017-03-22 09:31:02 Shanghai Daily

The Great Theater of China's renovation will restore its past glory.(Wang Rongjiang)

The historic Great Theater of China near People's Square will reopen by the end of the year after a major renovation to restore its original look, officials said yesterday.

The theater at 704 Niuzhuang Road in downtown Huangpu District was built in 1929 as one of the city's four major Peking Opera venues.

Peking Opera masters Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu and Yuan Shihai often performed in the theater. From the 1950s, it became a popular stage for locals to watch all kinds of Chinese traditional operas. The building was listed as a city-level protected historic structure in 2005.

It will reopen to the public with 1,080 seats to stage modern operas, musical dramas and dances, said Xia Feng, general manager with Shanghai Ever Shining Cultural Group, which will operate the theater after the reopening.

The district government began the renovation in 2014 to reinforce the four-story concrete structure and improve facilities. The appearance and inner decoration are being restored to its original design, Xia said.

One feature unchanged by the renovation is keeping seats close to the stage to let audiences better interact with the performers, Xia said. VIP lounges, rehearsal studios and dressing rooms have been arranged on the third floor. The stage has been equipped with high-tech features and even an elevating orchestra platform.

After reopening, the theater will cooperate with renowned institutes from home and abroad to introduce popular shows to the city, according to the district government. It will also collaborate with arts colleges to train students for the theater.

The renovation has been undertaken by the Huangpu government and Ever Shining, which also runs the city's historic Grand Theatre on Nanjing Road W., as part of their ambition to together create a “performances zone” in the People's Square area.

The 83-year-old Huangpu Theater, which is sited near to the Great Theater of China, was reopened late last year. Once known as the “palace of Chinese cinema,” it has hosted a series of cutting-edge shows after the reopening, including the sci-fi drama “Lights,” the dance spectacle “Tiger,” and Tim Crouch's Shakespeare-inspired solo show “I, Malvolio.”

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