This musical premiered at the National Theatre of Taiwan in 2003, starring Winnie Shin as Zhu Yingtai, "King of Musicals" Berson Wang as Liang Shanbo and Huang Shiwei as Ma Wencai. The main storyline of the show is more or less similar to that commonly seen in Chinese operas, with more emphasis being made on Ma Wencai. In typical Chinese opera shows, Ma Wencai is only a very minor role, if not non-appearing, and is always seen as a rich, flamboyant rascal of little talent. In this show, however, Ma Wencai is seen as an educated and sentimental man who was deeply in love with Zhu Yingtai, but did not understand how love works, and finally lost Yingtai.
From the video footages in the bonus behind-the-scenes VCD, the show seemed quite good. Having said that, this show is not without any weak points. For a start, some part of the music sounded a bit out-of-place, as the composer had actually tried to incoporate western opera music, broadway musical music, Chinese folk music and old Hong Kong drama serial music into the show. Also, the settings of the show was wrong as well. The story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai was supposed to be in the Western Jin dynasty, which was after the Three Kingdoms period. In this show, however, Zhu Yingtai actually sang of Wu Zetian, the female Empress of the Tang dynasty!
This show had just been re-staged again late last year, and I'm not sure if these problems had been solved or not. Anyway, for this latest production, Winnie Shin was replaced by Hong Ruixiang (previously acted as Yin Xin), while the other 2 male leads remained unchanged. I hope they'll come to stage in Singapore soon, or at least release a DVD or VCD recording of the show. It's a big pity if such a production could not be appreciated by people living outside Taiwan!
Old Ma Wencai reminscing the past
"Rebellious" Zhu Yingtai and talented Ma Wencai
Liang Shanbo's "old Hong Kong drama serial" style of music
One of the main melodies in the show, sang as a reprise during their secret engagement scene in the later part of the show
Yingtai agreeing to marry Ma Wencai in order to preserve the honour of her family as well as the safety of Liang's family
Yingtai revealing to Shanbo her engagement to Ma Wencai
Yingtai asking Shanbo to marry someone else and forget her
Shanbo on the verge of death after being seriously wounded and humiliated by Ma Wencai