Why Do New Musicals Matter?

TAK VIRAVAN ON HIS LOVE OF MUSICAL THEATER

Musical theater is one of our great indigenous art forms, born entirely of an American culture of entertainment and exported around the world. It has the power to tell incredible stories, touch the soul and bring light to joy. It is this gift that Waterfall co-director Tak Viravan loves, and the reason that he believes the creation of new musicals is of the utmost importance.

Tak ViravanYou might call Viravan the Simon Cowell of Thailand. A media mogul with years of experience discovering and molding pop stars and a number of hit TV shows under his belt including The Star—an equivalent of American Idol—on which he discovered Thai superstar Bie Sukrit, he has his finger on the pulse of Thai culture. And Viravan is one of the key players in bringing musical theater to his country’s cultural epicenter.

“When I was twelve, my father took me to see a production of The Sound of Music in San Francisco, and I fell in love with it,” says Viravan, recounting how his love for musical theater was born. “I thought it was magical, visually and musically. I started seeing other musicals in years to come. I found out that musicals were not only magical in what I saw and heard, but also in what I felt. I learned a lot about life through musicals—their messages, how they reflected society and life.”

Musicals have the power to transcend cultural barriers, which is why they have been adopted by so many other countries to tell their own stories. Viravan knew that there would be a home for his beloved art form in Thailand, and helped introduce it to his country. But Viravan says, “With the Thai ways of life and how Thai audiences enjoy entertainment, Thai musicals are more focused on love, and they tend to be more emotional.”

It was for this reason that he brought the beloved Thai novel Behind the Painting to rich musical life in Thailand starring his protégé Bie Sukrit. That musical has now become Waterfall, adapted for a Broadway audience by a team of musical pros. “Turning the show into a Broadway musical was not only my idea, but also Richard Maltby’s and Jack Dalgleish’s. Richard fell in love with the sincerity of the piece and the love story. There hasn’t been this kind of musical on Broadway for a while. And yet, audiences are longing for this kind of show. And with the exotic set up of culture clash—the East and the West—there is an opportunity here to have a luscious, sincere, romantic love story.”

What he hopes audiences will remember of this special new musical? “Beauty. Romance. Cultures. Being who you are, and learning to balance your roots with an ever-changing world.”

By BRIDGET MORGAN, Public Relations & Communications Manager

Author: The 5th Avenue Theatre

The Nation's Leading Musical Theater

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