Eileen Chang gets B’way-style musical
Published: May 23, 2013 06:48 PM

Eileen Chang is one of the best known female writers in Chinese modern history. Her novels about romance and relations have contributed to many film and TV productions, including Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (2007). Now, the great author's story is being told in musical form.

Compiled by director Yan Yue from historical records, the original Chinese musical Elieen Chang was performed by the Ocean Breath troupe at Beijing's Dayin Theater from May 14 to 23. 

The story begins with Chang's return to Shanghai after finishing her studies in Hong Kong. The opening number features the full cast of eight (who play multiple roles) including Guai Guai who plays the younger Chang.

The story focuses on Chang's torrid love life, which seems to run in parallel with the sweeping changes of her times. The first relationship depicted is with Hu Lancheng, a traitor during the Republic of China era (1912-49).

The show depicts how Chang's family, friends and the public pressured her because Hu had been married twice before. The songs "Blossoming" and "The World" help express her happiness of being loved.

The marriage ends because of Hu's infidelity. That's when Chang takes up screenwriting and meets the renowned director Sang Hu. The song "Merciless Destiny" explains how neither had the courage to make the first move. 

The original songs serve the musical well. Some lyrics may even seem familiar to Chang's fans as her books were often the source of material.

To be honest, Beijing's stages have seen too many adaptations of classic novels and Western musicals. Eileen Chang is the kind of original play that has been missing. Though it can't be called perfect - as young performers need to polish their skills, and the structure could be readjusted to make it more dramatic - one flaw cannot obscure the splendor of the jade. 

Performances of Eileen Chang ended on Thursday in Beijing, but the producer has unveiled that the troupe will begin a national tour in July, covering cities like Tai Yuan, Shijiazhuang and Shanghai.