Last Friday, I caught the opening night performance of The Theatre Practice (TTP)‘s original musical, “Liao Zhai Rocks!” (《聊斋》古装摇滚音乐剧).

The musical is a modern retelling of the literary classic Strange Tales of Liao Zhai, a beloved anthology of Chinese folklore. I think for most of us, our introduction to Liao Zhai would be from the 1987 iconic Hong Kong film, “A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂)”, starring Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong.

For Liao Zhai Rocks!, the story revolves round the theme of love, featuring a scholar and his tangle with pretty demons in human forms, much similar to “A Chinese Ghost Story”.

Veteran Taiwanese actor Inred Liang stars as the scholar, Sang Xiao, with Joanna Dong reprising her role as his love interest, Ying Ning, the fox spirit. Ethel Yap plays Feng San Niang, with longtime TTP collaborator, Sugie returning as Cheng Ban Xian, the zealous Taoist priest.

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I watched the 2010 version as well. How does the 2016 version square up against the original?

Updated and better!

Liao Zhai is a hallmark of Chinese ghost stories and is often adapted in film and television.

In Liao Zhai Rocks!, playwright Wu Xi and directors Kuo Jian Hong and George Chan explore this classic without special effects while injecting rock music. This fresh and dynamic interpretation will give modern audiences a chance to experience this exciting breakthrough.

This edition of Liao Zhai Rocks! also features a tighter storyline and updated music by founders
of Funkie Monkies Productions, Xiaohan and Eric Ng.

The costumes for the 2016 show are designed by an award-winning Bangkok-based costume and fashion house, Tube Gallery:

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Both Rachel and I much prefer the costumes, props and staging for this newer version, not to mention a set of more engaging lyrics and musical compositions. The story remains the same, but it is interesting to see how some tweaks here and there can vastly enhance the enjoyment of the show.

Rachel gives the show a 4.5/5 rating. For me, it would come to 4/5. I would recommend it as a first show for those who wants to know more about The Strange Tales of Liao Zhai. This will be a great introduction. 🙂

Tickets are now available online via SISTIC. Book yours before they are all sold out! 

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ABOUT LIAO ZHAI ROCKS!

Like a good old-fashioned Chinese love story, Sang Xiao and Ying Ning falls in love with each other.

All seems well except the fact that Ying Ning is no mere mortal but a vixen spirit! Against her father’s wish, Ying Ning follows Sang Xiao to live in the mortal world.

Along comes the priest-in-training, Cheng Ban Xian, who reveals Ying Ning’s true identity to Sang Xiao. Shocked and confused, the vulnerable Sang Xiao is accidentally poisoned and cast into the underworld by the water ghost, Feng San Niang! Upon hearing this, the lovelorn Ying Ning barges into the underworld to save Sang Xiao, the love of her life, even if it means sacrificing her own life.

Will they outwit the formidable King Yama and escape the dangerous underworld? Will the bittersweet lovers finally get the happily ever after they deserve?

From the creative talents behind “If There’re Seasons…” and Lao Jiu: The Musical comes another long-awaited Chinese musical, Liao Zhai Rocks! by The Theatre Practice. Premiered in 2010, Liao Zhai Rocks! is finally back after 6 long years! Watch the sparks fly as the new stellar cast tells the story of forbidden love between human and ghost through the rebellious tunes of rock music.