“Tianmen Fox Fairy” – First Real-Scene Musical in the World (天门狐仙-·新刘海砍樵)

Tianmen Fox Fairy (天门狐仙-·新刘海砍樵) is known as the world’s first real-scene musical (山水实景演出、魔幻音乐剧) with Mount Tianmen and deep valleys of Zhangjiajie as the stage background.  Since the first debut of the musical on 17 September 2009 at the Mount Tianmen Valley Grand Theatre (天门狐仙峡谷大剧场), rain or shine, the 90-minute musical will take place every night at 8.10pm except from 8 November to 8 March every year during winter season.

It was raining the whole day since we started our tour at the Tianmen Mountain National Park to the Tujia Folk Custom Park, and the rain continued into the night. 😦  As it is an open-air theatre, the theatre management provided everyone with free disposable poncho so that we can still watch the musical.  According to the tour guide, the peak period is usually from 10 September to mid November which we managed to escape.  True enough, the theatre was only about half-filled that night.

We had to pay for our tickets to this real-scene musical, and it wasn’t cheap – at RMB 450 (about S$91.30) for normal category seats!  It was like paying for a musical ticket at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore…  Our tour guide said there are VIP category seats that are sheltered and beverages being served, but it is sold at RMB 880 (about S$178.60)!  So for people like me, just be contented to stay in the normal category haha.

This musical is adapted from a famous folktale 《新刘海砍樵》 in Hunan province.  It is about a love story between a fox fairy (狐仙) and an ordinary woodman 刘海.   The general director of the musical is the founder of China’s real-scene performances – Mei Shuai Yuan (梅帅元) while the music director is world-renowned China composer Tan Dun (谭盾) who has received Oscar and Grammy Awards before.  I shall not go too much into the details and bore you.  Show you some beautiful shots of the musical below:

Prelude with the choir on the left side of the stage

Prelude with the choir on the left side of the stage

The Xiangxi village houses on the terraces (梯田)

The Xiangxi village houses on the terraces (梯田)

The central lit stage is constructed on a real valley, while the stage on the right is built from forest rocks to depict the fox's paradise

The central lit stage is constructed on a real valley, while the stage on the right is built from forest rocks to depict the fox’s paradise

The musical is set in a magnificent backdrop, but I was still a little disappointed, as I had expected more stunning effects with Mount Tianmen after hearing rave reviews before I went to watch the performance.  Lesson learnt, don’t set too high an expectation next time haha.  Nonetheless, it was still an impressive show I must say, imagine having 500 performers doing this every day?  Many of the performers have to run, dance or sprint around the entire theatre, even when it is raining heavily they also have to do it despite the slippery ground.  Very professional indeed. 🙂  The music and songs presented are also quite nice and the choir and singers do have great voices.  The lighting effects also blend well with the natural stage at Mount Tianmen.  Overall, it is still worth watching if you visit Zhangjiajie. 🙂

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