First Review of Mamma Mia! in Mandarin

The Telegraph carries a review of ‘Mamma Mia!’, the first Western musical to be performed in China in Chinese translation.

No one was quite sure what to expect. Mamma Mia! had played Shanghai four years ago in English, but there is no tradition of light-hearted musical theatre in China. Instead, there are operas: grand and often serious productions about China’s history or culture. Would a Chinese-language musical be a mini-opera, too serious to capture any ease and delight …?

Shanghai is often accused of being a city obsessed with wealth, so it was fitting that the first real applause was for Money, Money, Money, its lyrics well translated into Chinese and its setting cannily switched from the bright lights of Las Vegas to a casino in Macao.

The biggest cheers and loudest laughs went to the Shanghainese slang that peppers Tanya’s lines, and the audience responded warmly to the local dialect throughout the show. The Chinese dances, however, got less attention: perhaps the Twisting Yangko will go down better in Beijing, when the musical heads north in August ….

The producers of the show promised it would be identical to the London version, and the moments of physical intimacy on stage were perhaps bolder than China is used to. There were giggles and cheers, as well as gasps and tuts for the actors, some of whom seemed to be equally embarrassed. There were also a few knowing chuckles when one of the characters admits he has a gay boyfriend.

Rating: 3 1/2 sickles (or red stars) out of 5

Click through for video clips of the performance.


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