A ground-breaking show that is at once old and new played to a full house in Chicago's Auditorium Theater, leaving the audience raving about what they had seen.
The Chinese New Year Spectacular is, according to Ms Jenny Fang, who does public relations for the show, "a grand production put together to reflect authentic Chinese culture and give people the best entertainment experience. It is a show of Performing arts—music, dance, and song—that are based on the forms and the spirit of traditional Chinese culture."
During the show, audience members could be heard exclaiming under their breath at different points, "beautiful," "amazing," "wonderful." Some could be seen at times quietly dabbing their eyes as tears flowed.
Carolyn Lunsford, a student age 16, spoke about how the Spectacular made Chinese culture "seem less alien to someone who knows nothing about it."
According to Ms. Fang, "What we are doing, in reviving China's traditional culture, is bringing something that is new to many around the world. Most people today have not had the chance to get to know China's authentic culture."
Ms. Marijo Doody is the theater critic for Village View publications, which have newspapers in 13 townships in the south suburbs of Chicago.
She summed up the show as "marvelous, absolutely wonderful."
Ms. Doody found herself in tears during the dance "Candelight Vigil," which depicts a vigil honoring those who have been killed in China because they have chosen to remain true to their conscience and calling attention to the orphaned children left behind. She was reminded of the Academy Awards paying tribute to artists who died in the past year, and also of how mothers are losing children in war today
The Spectacular is rapidly finding an audience around the world. The show, originally named the Chinese New Year Gala, was first performed in 2004 to a total audience of around 10,000 in New York City, Washington, D.C., Taipei, Paris, and Toronto.
This year's show comes to Chicago straight from Berlin and Paris, in the middle of a world-wide tour. According to Ms. Fang, the show has so far performed 51 times in 15 cities. Upon leaving Chicago it travels to Japan, Australia, and Taiwan. It is expected to reach a live audience of 200,000.
According to Samuel Zhou of New Tang Dynasty T.V., broadcasts of the show on the Chinese New Year's eve and New Year's day are estimated to have reached several million viewers around the world, including mainland China, where the signal was available by satellite dish.
Mike Wendler is a general manager for Underwriter Laboratories. He found the show "fabulous, very good."
He thought the choreography was "extremely beautiful, with incredbile precision". He particularly singled out the Mongolian Bowl Dance for its combination of "grace, precision and strength."
Denise Yee is the executive director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce. She found the show "Magnificent."
Ms. Yee's mother used to perform Chinese opera, and she grew up in a household that had a living connection to China's traditional culture. Ms. Yee proclaimed herself thrilled "to see the culture alive again."
Her colleague at the Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Ms. M.J. Burns, does not have this personal connection, but she also found the show "throughly mesmerizing."
Ms. Doody found herself after the show thinking about freedom, "I was reminded in watching the show of how we take for granted freedom in this country."