KITCHENER-WATERLOO, Canada—Baritone Tim Clarke, an actor and singer in musical theatre, left delighted after he attended the acclaimed Shen Yun Performing Arts’ sold-out show on Friday night at Centre In The Square.
“I really enjoyed it. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Mr. Clarke, who has performed in such iconic musicals as Les Misérables and Oliver! with Triple Threat Theatre in southern Ontario.
New York-based Shen Yun has three touring companies that travel the globe every year to present all-new productions of classical Chinese dance and music in its mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.
Tenors, sopranos, and other award-winning vocalists perform solos accompanied by piano, and are noted for their mastery of the bel canto operatic technique while singing Chinese lyrics.
“I enjoyed all the singers,” Mr. Clarke said, especially praising soprano Geng Haolan.
“[She] was fantastic,” he said, adding that her voice was “very resonant, extremely resonant—I could hear her voice vibrating in my ear.”
A live orchestra seamlessly blends the sounds of East and West, with a Western philharmonic orchestra playing the foundation while traditional Chinese instruments lead the melodies.
“The orchestra was beautiful. I liked the combination of Chinese instruments and brass and violin, the strings,” said Mr. Clarke.
“I really enjoyed all the music. The percussion was also excellent,” he said, adding that he very much liked the sound of the erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument with only two strings that has been called the “Chinese violin.”
Overall, “I think the musical direction was excellent. It sounded great, and I appreciate that it’s all played live,” Mr. Clarke said.
As a singer, actor, and dancer, Mr. Clarke is familiar with the production of theatrical and musical performances that combine acting, dance, music, and the technical elements of entertainment.
With that background, he especially highlighted that his favourite part of the show was The Sand Monk Is Blessed, a mini-drama piece inspired by a story from the beloved Chinese classic “Journey to the West,” which tells of a monk’s adventures on a pilgrimage to seek the Buddhist scriptures.
“I really enjoyed the sea ogre,” he said, referring to the character who was redeemed in the story and became known thereafter as Sand Monk.
Another dance that stood out for him was An Early Spring, in which graceful dancers twirl colourful handkerchiefs evoking the annual change of seasons.
“I really liked An Early Spring, as soon as they started twirling their handkerchiefs. It was just thrilling watching the handkerchiefs fly,” he said.
“I think it’s fantastic that they put together a new show every year,” Mr. Clarke said, commending Shen Yun for its original compositions and all-new lineup of dances, songs, and musical scores each year.
Reporting by NTD Television and Cindy Chan
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. With its two shows in Kitchener-Waterloo now finished, Shen Yun’s New York Company will go on to Hamilton (Jan. 12-13) for three shows and finish its tour of eastern Canada in Toronto (Jan. 17-20) with five shows at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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