Making a song and dance about musical theater

By Chen Jie ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-11-21 07:21:45

Making a song and dance about musical theaterFor 15 years, Tony Stimac ran New York's Musical Theater Works, developing 60 original musicals.

Most productions were the work of first-time writers, six were staged on Broadway, six off-Broadway and 24 toured the United States. The company boasted 22 rehearsal studios and had New York University send students to do workshops.

"I liked helping the young writers to figure out what they were trying to do and make their shows as successful as possible," Stimac says.

His passion for, and dedication to, creating new musical works did not go unnoticed. One day he received a phone call from Don Frantz, then a Disney producer and director, who asked if he would like to turn the Disney version of the story Beauty and the Beast into a musical. Stimac accepted the challenge and the two men began to collaborate. When Frantz was named CEO of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment's theatrical division and established a joint venture in China, he asked Stimac to accompany him to the country in 2007.

"I had never been to China and had no interest in China at all before I came. But I thought it might be fun," he recalls.

As soon as he arrived, he started to read books about China and its history, especially the events of the past 100 years.

"I was blown away at what the country had been through. It's incredible, unbelievable, going from a big empire to be torn apart by the world's wars. You just cannot grasp it," he says.


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