Broadway giant is coming to HK...
Producer promises theatrical boost and move into mainland
The city is to get a big injection of creative talent, new jobs and probably a new live-performance venue, following the decision by a US entertainment giant that stages Broadway musicals around the world to set up operations here.
Broadway Asia will establish its Hong Kong arm, Broadway Asia Entertainment, later this year, in partnership with local theatre group Spring-Time Productions, Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping said yesterday.
Broadway Asia has presented shows such as The Sound of Music, The Producers and West Side Story in more than 40 countries in the past five years, and the new partnership will stage the Chinese version of The King and I in Hong Kong at the end of next year.
It will be the first time the company has staged a Chinese version of its musicals, which are household names for musical lovers.
Dr Ho, who met senior Broadway Asia executive Thomas Viertel early this week, said the company would use Hong Kong as the logistics base for exploring the mainland's cultural market.
The company planned to stage Broadway musicals in Hong Kong before starting a round of performances in various mainland cities, Dr Ho said.
'The company chose Hong Kong as the springboard for exploring the mainland market because of our strengths in the rule of law and the low tax regime,' Dr Ho said. 'It also finds it more cost-effective to make costumes for the shows in neighbouring cities like Shenzhen. Its plan will hopefully create plenty of job opportunities for actors and production staff in Hong Kong.'
Broadway Asia Entertainment plans to produce more than a dozen productions in English and Chinese in more than 20 mainland cities in the next three years. 'We are focusing our efforts on building long-term relationships with strategic partners throughout China,' Mr Viertel said.
Clifton Ko Chi-sum, chief executive and producer of Spring-Time Productions, said Broadway Asia had made a wise decision to use Hong Kong as its base to enter the mainland.
'Their plan will certainly provide a stimulus to arts development and the theatre industry in Hong Kong,' he said.
But Mr Ko said he was struggling to find a large enough venue to stage The King and I, which would run for about three months next year.
'We are looking forward to long-term co-operation with Broadway Asia,' he said.
Dr Ho admitted the city's performance venues were inadequate and said Broadway Asia Entertainment intended to build its own venue in the city.