Jokers are wild
Published: Sep 05, 2011 09:43 AM
Joker's Game Photo: CFP

When the curtain raises, the time returns to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when China's first and only female emperor Wu Zetian ruled this biggest country in the world. A young magician is called to perform the newly invented poker game in front of the arrogant emperor and the princess, whom he deeply loved. But Wu didn't agree on this marriage and gave the order to cut his head off. Just on the way to being executed, the whole scene has been changed to the modern day. It was all about a game by a young magician.

Claimed as the first Chinese magic musical, Joker's Game, the collaboration between Chinese renowned musical producer Li Dun and Broadway veteran director Tony Stimac, will amaze musical-goers with dazzling magic tricks, a heart-touching story line and melodious singing in the end of this year at the new Song Lei Theater.

Producer Li Dun rose to fame with the original musical Bufferfly and expanded his influence by the second Love U, Teresa. He intends to further his mark by staging Joker's Game in Chinese theaters and even on Broadway.

"Love is the theme that strings all my musical products, this one is no exception. With the help of Broadway storytelling and interpretation, we will stage a truly Chinese musical that will overwhelm even picky Western theatergoers," Li told the Global Times.

Two years ago, when the director Tony Stimac told the outline of this story to Li Dun. Li immediately made the decision. "From then to now, he has never waved one single moment," Stimac recalled.

From the story on the paper to the theater on the stage, Li selected an experienced crew including music director Louis St. Louis, choreographer Josh Prince and script writer James Racheff, invited renowned designer Guo Pei for the costumes, and selected the young singing and acting talents from across the country. At the first rehearsal last Friday, the director said Li Dun is "the man who always eats the crabs first" and for that, he liked to work with him. "Within the history of Chinese musical theater, Li Dun's name must be top on the list. From Bufferfly and Love U, Teresa to now Joker's Game, he never gave up the dream of Chinese original musicals," he said.

At the rehearsal, the magic part is still being kept as a secret. It seems that we will wait until the last minute to know the magic tricks at the Song Lei Theater, where the show is set to open to the public by the end of this year.