Urban Aphrodite International brings fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride to stage

By Liao Fangzhou Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-5 17:48:01

Expat troupe brings fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride to stage

Since turning focus to bringing films to a live stage, theater company Urban Aphrodite International might be considered dark. Among its initial adaptations were David Fincher's thriller Fight Club and Roman Polanski's horror Rosemary's Baby. Its latest project, though, is an abridged adaptation of the 1987 fantasy romance The Princess Bride.

Ann James, the executive producer and director of the company, said during a press conference at the Pearl last Tuesday that she fell in love with The Princess Bride as a teenager. She said she believes audiences in Shanghai would love to experience the story that she finds timeless.

The Princess Bride produced by Urban Aphrodite International will be shown at The Pearl Theatre in Shanghai from May 12 tp 22.

 "There are giants, fights and swords. There are true love, romance and humor. It has all things that make it an excellent fairy tale," James said.

The story follows farmhand Westley on his journey to rescue Princess Buttercup from Prince Humperdinck. To do so, he follows and fights with a trio of bandits employed by Humperdinck to kidnap and kill the princess before their wedding. He's plagued by Sicilian boss Vizzini, a giant called Fezzik, and Spanish master swordsman Inigo Montoya.

The stage show enjoys a cast of 17 semi-professional actors - all have full-time jobs and do creative theater in their spare time. For this production, they've been rehearsing for six weeks.

Bringing new character

Eric Paci from the US, who has both acted and directed shows in the last 20 years, plays the spoiled prince, alongside newcomer Anna Lande as the princess.

"All my friends are super excited to come. Perhaps every American between 8 and 80 has seen the movie," Paci said.

He said the greatest difficulties lie in playing the part as everyone knows it in the movie, and also bringing his own element to that. He said he thinks Prince Humperdinck is a very complicated and tragically misunderstood dark hero.

Cesar Gozurreta, a teacher from Argentina who plays Vizzini, agrees with Paci that it is hard to perform in a way that is faithful to what people remember and still bring something else.

He did not give away whether Vizzini would be killed soon in the play, as the character does in the original book and film.

"It is a really fun role for an actor to play. The range of emotions goes from anger to a lot of anger. That gives me a lot of room to work with," Gozurreta said.

Major cast members for the stage version of The Princess Bride Photos: Courtesy of Urban Aphrodite International

Popular swordsman

The most popular - or perhaps at least the most-quoted - character from the original film has never been any of the leading roles, but the swordsman Inigo Montoya.

The role sinks into alcoholism when his quest to find the killer of his father seems unlikely, before he is found by Vizzini to kidnap the princess.

A beloved moment is his extended duel with Westley, in which both of them begin fencing left-handed and later convert to their dominant hands as the competition intensifies.

Here he's played by Brian Wang, a Californian who has been acting for 15 years since college. It is his seventh show with the theater company.

"The role is so memorable because he has a very clear goal, because his father is murdered and he spends all his life learning to fence so he can find get revenge. So the audience can join him on this journey to complete this mission," Wang said.

He calls it a role of a lifetime. "It is one of the roles that I would be so happy to have played for the rest of my life. I know I wouldn't have this opportunity in the US. I am fortunate to meet the crew at this time of my life," Wang said.

James finds the adaptation an interesting process, considering and balancing the budget and creative possibilities.

"For example, we would have very exciting designs that give you a sense of scenery and locale," James said.

Date: May 12 to 22 (every Thursday to Sunday from 8:30 pm, Saturdays from 2 pm)

Venue: The Pearl Theatre

Address: 471 Zhapu Road


Call 137-6488-9962 to book seats

Newspaper headline: Prepare to die

Posted in: Theater, Culture

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