October 29, 2009 / 10:19 AM / in 8 years

Broadway musical "Victor/Victoria" dances again in Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - A Singapore theater company is staging "Victor/Victoria" for the first time in Asia, more than a decade after it left Broadway and with jazz singer Laura Fygi in the role that actress Julie Andrews made famous.

The musical comedy, written by Blake Edwards and set to the music of the legendary Henry Mancini, opens in Singapore on November 9 and is the latest in a handful of Broadway productions to be staged in the Southeast Asian country better known for its strict laws than its arts scene.

Earlier this year, Singapore hosted Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats" as well as a production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" directed by Sam Mendes and starring Hollywood actors Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawke, as the global economic crisis made Asian venues attractive to theater companies.

But Loretta Chen, the artistic director of local production company Zebra Crossing, said "Victor/Victoria" was an ex-Broadway play with a difference.

"We wanted to really show that Singapore has talent, that Asia has talent, so instead of bringing in a Broadway show wholesale, with a totally foreign cast, we bought the rights and incorporated local and Asian talent," Chen told Reuters.

"We felt that across Asia, there's a desire for adult musicals. In Singapore, two in five people watch theater, and musicals are their top choice. And we want to show that Asians can make their mark," she added.

"Victor/Victoria" tells the story of a penniless soprano, Victoria, who pretends she is a man named Victor to boost her career, and entertains as a female impersonator. She then becomes the toast of Paris, but complications arise when a Chicago mobster sees the act and falls in love with the star.

Chen said it was a challenging to say the least to stage such a large-scale musical during the economic downturn, but added: "I am sure we will make both Singapore and Broadway proud."

The Broadway production, which was based on the 1982 film "Victor Victoria" and directed by Edwards, opened in 1995 and ran for almost two years.

Julie Andrews reprised her lead role in the film and received the only Tony Award nomination for the production, causing a stir when she turned it down. Andrews quit the show when she developed vocal problems and was replaced by Raquel Welch for the duration of the run.

A production has since been staged in Madrid in 2005. The Singapore production runs until November 29.

Editing by Bill Tarrant

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