Turning right for romance

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-1 19:13:01

Four reasons not to miss a classic musical about love at first sight

In 1999, inspired by the Polish poet and Nobel prize winner Wislawa Szymborska's work Love at First Sight, the acclaimed Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao created the picture story A Chance of Sunshine which is also known as Turn Left, Turn Right.

It was later translated into 10 languages and enjoyed by millions of readers around the world.

The story is simple. It revolves around one male character, He, and a female character, She. They live in the same building but they have never met each other or are aware of each other.

Scenes of the musical Turn Left, Turn Right - Love or Regret Photos: Courtesy of Shanghai Culture Square

He is a quiet violinist who enjoys feeding the birds at a nearby park. She is a hardworking translator who likes to converse with wild cats on the roadside.

He lives on the left side of the building and always turns left when he leaves his apartment. She lives on the right side and always turns right when she walks out. The meet, by accident, in a park one day.

"They are both convinced, that a mysterious passion has brought them together. Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still," Szymborska wrote in her poem.

A rainstorm interrupts them and the two, unfortunately, then lose touch with each other.

In 2008, the Taiwanese director Li Huan-hsiung invited Jimmy Liao to work as a creative consultant and produce a musical version of the story, Turn Left, Turn Right - Love or Regret.

The musical has been a hit since then, and recently a new production featuring four acclaimed performers from Taiwan has been wowing audience.

In Shanghai the musical will be staged, followed by performances in Beijing, Zhuhai and Taiwan.

Here are four good reasons why you shouldn't miss this show.

A multi-layered plot

Unlike the simple story in the original picture book version, Turn Left, Turn Right - Love or Regret adds different layers of love experiences to the plot. Onstage He becomes Mr Regret, while She becomes Ms Leave.

Besides the two lead roles, there are also two supporting characters - the woman C who is constantly looking for her cat and a male rocker Y who falls in love with her at first sight.

If the affection between Mr Regret and Ms Leave is obvious on both sides, the relationship between C and Y is ambiguous and uncertain.

Awarding-winning cast

Taiwanese stars Waa Wei, Wang Da-wen, Joanna Wang and Chang Yao-jen will play Ms Leave, Mr Regret, woman C and rocker Y in this production.

Wei is popular performer in Taiwan where she is known for her talents as a singer, songwriter, actress and radio host.

In 2013 singer/songwriter Wang Da-wen soared to fame with his on-line cover version of Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are."

Last year he was voted by China's Music Radio as the singer in Hong Kong and Taiwan with the greatest potential.

Joanna Wang usually writes and sings in English and has won the Best Singer-Songwriter award at the Golden Indie Music Awards alongside a handful of nominations at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards.

Chang Yao-jen majored in drama and now is also known as a musician for his work in a variety of projects. He sings with Red Hare, a group that mixes pop with rock and world music, and provides vocal percussion in the a cappella group Safak.

An acclaimed creative team

The musical features 20 songs, solos, duets and chorus numbers, all written by leading lyricists and composers like Xia Yu and Wu Tsing-fong from the award-winning group Sodagreen.

Xia is also a noted poet and author in Taiwan known for her peculiar rhetoric and post-modernistic style.

The music director for the show is Chen Chien-chi, the music director of Sony Music Entertainment (Taiwan).

Chen has worked with many of the big names in Taiwan's music scene. Chen said working with Jimmy Liao's creation was inspiring - the show was atmospheric and he enjoyed making music that extended the emotional range of the story.

A distinctive design

Before the musical there was a film version of this story in 2003 and a TV version in 2005.

But this is the only version where Jimmy Liao has been involved in the design.

The stage design has absorbed some scenes directly from Liao's original illustrations and they have proved to be a poetic addition.

Some of Liao's illustrations from other works, like A Fish With A Smile, will also make an appearance and interact with the performers.

Of all the versions so far, this is the production Liao is most satisfied with.

Date: March 18 and 19, 7:15 pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

Address: 597 Fuxing Road Middle


Tickets: 80 yuan ($12.22) to 380 yuan

Call 6472-9000 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Theater, Culture

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