New Musical ROAD TO HEAVEN: THE JONATHAN LEE MUSICAL Gets D.C. Reading Before Shanghai Premiere
China Broadway Entertainment announces its latest original global musical: Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical. Adapted from the novel by internationally acclaimed author Li Xiuwen, the original musical will feature music by one of China's most iconic singer-songwriters Jonathan Lee.
China Broadway Entertainment once again brings together China's leading talents with a creative team comprised of some of the best talent Broadway and London's West End have to offer. Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical will feature English lyrics by Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr., (Ain't MIsbehavin', Miss Saigon, Fosse), book by John Dempsey (The Pirate Queen, The Witches of Eastwick), and direction by Eric Schaeffer (Gigi, Follies, Million Dollar Quartet). Don Frantz (Disney's The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast) is executive producer.
On December 12, 2017, The Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA (Eric Schaeffer, Founder and Artistic Director) will host a developmental reading of Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical. Producer Ivy Zhong has engaged the American creative team to adapt Lee's original lyrics and Xiuwen's story into English allowing them to shape the material into a cohesive musical during its development in Arlington. Subsequently, Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical will be translated back into Chinese for the world premiere in Shanghai in 2018. English-language productions are planned for New York and other cities throughout the U.S. following the Chinese premiere.
Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical is the story of a beautiful young woman and her young, but terminally ill lover. Driven by an endless well of passion, she works five jobs, breaks the law and risks her life in her efforts to keep the man she loves alive. The timeless love story by Li Xiuwen is married together with some of the greatest hits from the Jonathan Lee songbook. In a career spanning nearly four decades, Jonathan Lee is known throughout Greater China as "the godfather of popular music," In addition to producing his own chart-topping solo albums, Lee has written and produced songs for China's greatest pop stars and received 25 of China's most prestigious music awards, including seven Golden Melody Awards (the Chinese equivalent of The Grammy Award).
Founded by Ivy Zhong in 2014, China Broadway Entertainment (CBE) has become a driving force in creating a new kind of global musical. After Zhong's success as a producer of the Tony Award-winning An American in Paris, CBE has curated intriguing, international creative partnerships between leading theater-makers from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, the West End and China's leading artists to create musicals for new audiences. Recent productions have included The Secret directed by Tony Award-winning director John Rando (Urinetown, On the Town, A Christmas Story The Musical), and Neverland helmed by acclaimed American director Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, The Donkey Show). Other notable Broadway talent that Zhong has engaged for recent CBE productions include, award-winning producer Anne Hamburger (Spring Awakening, Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse), celebrated playwright and novelist Marc Acito (Allegiance), Tony Award-winning scenic designers David Gallo (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Beowulf Boritt (Act Two), and Tony-nominated costume designer Jason C. Woolard (West Side Story). Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical is expected to be China Broadway Entertainment's most ambitious production to date.
"I could not be more delighted that China Broadway approached me about utilizing my songbook in such a new and exciting project," says Jonathan Lee. "This is a New Medium for me and my music. The idea that my music can reach a new, global audience through the theatre is absolutely thrilling. I cannot wait to see how this incredible creative team interprets my music on the stage."
"We are truly honored that the legendary Jonathan Lee has entrusted us with his songbook for this exciting original musical," says Ivy Zhong. "Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical marks the latest creative marriage of Eastern and Western talent to be fostered by China Broadway Entertainment. With this project, a team of theater artists representing the best of Broadway, London's West End and American regional theater interpret one of China's great contemporary love stories though the music of China's legendary pop icon."
"The sources and inspiration for this musical come from China. The interpretation and development come from America. The goal is to create a new kind of musical theater experience that will be entirely universal," says Eric Schaeffer. "The 'Broadway Musical' may be as American as apple pie, but its popularity continues to grow with audiences around the world. With Road to Heaven, we aspire to create a new kind of global musical that reflects the international appeal of this theater form."
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
JONATHAN LEE (Music & Lyrics) In Greater China (mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), Jonathan Lee is a music icon, a household name, and known as "the godfather of popular music."Although this guitarist, singer-songwriter and music producer may not as well known in North America, it would be difficult to find a person in the Chinese-speaking world who hasn't heard of Jonathan Lee. He is one of the world's most celebrated pop music superstars.In a career spanning nearly four decades and more than 1000 songs to his credit, Jonathan Lee has maintained a constant reputation as China's preeminent voice in popular music. When it comes to turning new songs into breakthrough hits, Jonathan Lee is China's most sought-after producer shepherding hundreds of songs through the recording studio to chart-topping success. In addition to producing his own 5 solo albums, the 59-year-old artist has written and produced songs for China's most iconic and rising pop stars including Jackie Chan, Sandy Lam, Karen Mok, CoCo Lee. Jonathan Lee is credited with making Rock Records one of the most successful independent labels in Asia with No. 1 hits including "I Am A Little Bird", "Dream To Awakening", "Understanding" and "When Love Pass By."As a singer-songwriter, Lee is renowned for his potent haunting melodies and deeply resonant, poetic lyrics. Playing to sold out audiences across all regions of China, Lee has influenced generations of fans and musicians with his music. He is the recipient of 25 of China's most prestigious music awards, including seven Golden Melody Awards (the Chinese equivalent of The Grammy Award) and widely acknowledged as one of the most influential mentors and influencers for new voices in the world of Chinese pop music.
Eric Schaeffer (Director) is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Arlington's Signature Theatre. Under his leadership, the Theatre was honored with the 2009 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre in America, as well as 97 Helen Hayes Awards with an additional 411 nominations for theater excellence in Washington, DC. At Signature, Schaeffer has directed over 85 productions. On Broadway, Schaeffer directed Gigi, the critically acclaimed Follies, the Tony Award®-winning Million Dollar Quartet, as well as Glory Days and Putting It Together. His national tours include Million Dollar Quartet and Big. Off-Broadway, he has directed Sweet Adeline (City Center Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert) and Under the Bridge. His West End credits include Million Dollar Quartet and The Witches of Eastwick. Eric's regional credits include Drury Lane: Beaches; Ford's Theatre: Meet John Doe; Goodman: Million Dollar Quartet; Apollo Theatre: Million Dollar Quartet; Mark Taper Forum: Putting It Together (with Carol Burnett); Chicago:Elmer Gantry; Los Angeles: Disney's Snow White. For the Kennedy Center, Schaeffer served as the Artistic Director of the acclaimed Sondheim Celebration in 2002 as well as directing its productions of Sunday in the Park with George and Passion. At the Kennedy Center, he also directed Follies starring Bernadette Peters, Mame starring Christine Baranski, First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb (re-staged and recorded for national broadcast on PBS in 2016) and Gigi starring Vanessa Hudgens. Overseas, Eric directed Sweeney Todd and Titanicin Seoul, South Korea with the OD Company.
Richard Maltby, Jr. (English lyrics) Broadway... Conceived and directed two Tony Award winning musicals: Ain't Misbehavin' (1978: Tony, N.Y. Drama Critics, Outer Critics, Drama Desk Awards - also Tony Award for Best Director); Fosse (1999: Tony, Outer Critics, Drama Desk Awards); as well as Ring of Fire, (2006). With composer David Shire: director/lyricist: Baby (1983, seven Tony nominations); lyricist: Big(1996, Tony nomination: Best Score). With Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, co-lyricist: Miss Saigon (Evening Standard Award, London 1990; Tony nomination: Best Score, 1991); co-lyricist: The Pirate Queen (2007). Director: The Story of My Life (2009). Director/co-lyricist: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song & Dance (1986 Tony Award for star, Bernadette Peters.) Off-Broadway... director/lyricistStarting Here, Starting Now (1977, Grammy nomination) and Closer Than Ever, (1989, two Outer Critics Circle Awards: Best Musical, Best Score; also Off-Broadway Alliance Award, Best Musical Revival 2013; and London Jermyn Street Theatre 2014,), both written with composer David Shire. Director: Just Jim Dale, Roundabout Theatre 2014, also Vaudeville Theatre, London 2015. Regional... Lyricist/conceiver, Take Flight (Menier Chocolate Factory, London 2010; McCarter Theatre 2012); book and lyrics, Waterfall, Pasadena Playhouse and Seattle's Fifth Avenue Theatre (2015). Director, Mask (2008, Pasadena Playhouse); director, The 60's Project (2006, Goodspeed). Currently... Lyricist, new musical Sousatzka, March 2017 in Toronto. Film... Screenplay, Miss Potter, (2007: Christopher Award, best screenplay.).
John Dempsey (Book) has written book and/or lyrics for The Witches of Eastwick, The Fix, Zombie Prom, Saved and Brother Russia among others. He has also contributed lyrics to various editions of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus as well as Boublil and Schonberg's The Pirate Queen. For his work on The Fix and The Witches Of Eastwick, John has been twice nominated for The Society Of West End Theatre's Laurence Olivier Award.
LI XIUWEN (Author of novel Road to Heaven) was born in the 1970s. His major works include novelTears Mole, Road to Heaven, short stories Xian Hua Luo (Blossom Fall), Fu Cao Zhuan (Floating Weeds), Inappropriate Intimacy. Published overseas and in Taiwan, his books have been translated into English, Japanese, Korean and other languages. He was awarded the Spring Literary Award. His TV drama "Ten Farewell to Red Army" won the Flying Goddess Award and Golden Eagle Award as best TV drama. His latest prose work, Shan He Jia Sha (Sunvo Cassock) is included on dozens of recommended book lists including the Sina Good Book List and Tencent Chinese Good Book List. Li Xiuwen serves as the Vice President of Hubei Writers Association and President of Wuhan Writers Association.
CHINA BROADWAY ENTERTAINMENT (Producer) is one of the China's most prominent theatrical production, management, and touring companies. Bringing original theatrical work to Chinese audiences, CBE engages the talents of some of America's leading, award-winning directors, writers and designers alongside acclaimed Chinese artists fostering an international talent pool reflecting the best of Broadway and immersive Chinese theatre. Founded in 2014, CBE is the world's only team that fosters collaborations between the leading talents from Broadway, Hollywood, China, and the world's popular music and sports to create world-class, unique theatrical events. CBE's first Broadway investment, An American in Paris, won four Tony Awards and continues to tour the United States and play London's West End. One of the China's most prominent theatrical production, management, and touring companies, CBE brings original theatrical work to new audiences. Alongside acclaimed Chinese artists, CBE engages the talents of some America's leading, award-winning directors, writers and designers, fostering an international talent pool reflecting the best of Broadway and immersive Chinese theatre. Recent, current and upcoming productions include Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical, Neverland, The Secret, Where's the Groom?, and The Little Prince.
Ivy Zhong (China Broadway Entertainment, Founder & CEO) is one of the most prolific and impactful business women working in global entertainment today. In 2013, Ivy Zhong was named China's most influential business woman of the year. In 2014, Ivy Zhong topped the list of China's Top 40 Business Elite Under 40 years old. In 2017, The Hollywood Reporter wrote "Ivy Zhong has been a step ahead of China's fast-changing entertainment sector for over a decade." After launching her career at Hong Kong's Phoenix Television, Ms. Ivy Zhong joinEd Galloping Horse Group, one of China's most renowned film and television companies in 2003. It was not long before Zhong assumed the position of vice chairman, signing top local talent including John Woo. At Galloping Horse, Zhong has 19 feature films and 22 TV programs to her credit. Focusing on international expansion, Zhong she successfully raised (approximately $750,00,000) for Galloping Horse Co., Ltd in 2011, and led the acquisition of Digital Domain, one of Hollywood's leading visual effects companies, in 2013. While Zhong still holds a seat on Galloping Horse's board, in 2014 she co-founded China Broadway Entertainment. Among the notable Broadway talent that Zhong has engaged for recent CBE productions include Tony Award winning director John Rando (Urinetown, On The Town, A Christmas Story, The Musical), acclaimed American playwright and director Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, The Donkey Show,Queen of the Night, Radio City Music Hall New York Spring Spectacular), award-winning producer Anne Hamburger (Spring Awakening, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse), and celebrated playwright and novelist Marc Acito (Allegiance, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater). Ms. Zhong obtained her EMBA degree from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. She earned both of her master degrees from the UK, majoring in marketing management and risk management.
Don Frantz (Executive Producer) Associate Producer of Disney's The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Broadway General Manager of A Tale of Two Cities, Soul of Shaolin, A Class Act. Producer of Off-Broadway award winner Disenchanted! Director/Writer of mandarin musicalsGolden Huyang and Kunlun Myth. International Faculty - Central Academy of Drama. Co-Producer of Stephen Schwartz's Magic To Do."
Signature Theatre Founded in 1989, Signature Theatre is a Tony Award®-winning regional theater that broadens and brightens the region's cultural landscape with its bold productions of challenging new and established works and engaging education and outreach programs. Under the leadership of co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland, musical theater has become Signature's "signature," and the Theatre is renowned for its definitive Sondheim productions, inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten works, and investment in fresh new projects. Called a "musical theater powerhouse" by The Washington Post, Signature combines Broadway-caliber productions with intimate playing spaces and aims to be a leading force in U.S. musical theater. Since its inception, the Theatre has produced 58 world premiere works-including 19 new musical commissions-and is home to the single largest musical theater commissioning project in the United States, The American Music Voices Project.