Baby Love Music Fun in China Concert Tour - Week 1
On my arrival to Beijing I was meet by Crystal who runs all the marketing for the concerts here in China. We’ve already been chatting via wechat for months so she is already familiar and easy to meet. We went to the train station to catch the fast train to Shijiazhuang which was about 2 hours from Beijing. Also catching the train with me were the three directors for the concert who are from CCTV – China’s biggest TV station. They were young and friendly and could reluctantly speak a little English and along with my limited Chinese efforts we were getting along well. I soon found out that as well as being the Directors for the concert the 2 girls were from the CCTV GymAngel TV show and are lead characters in show, they do the voices for the GA mascots. They have great singing voices and do all the voice overs for the GymAngel mascots. One of them also wrote the script joining all the Baby Love Music Fun songs into the story, and effects and sound joining the music, voice overs and sound effects all together in one perfectly timed 90 minute show.
Arriving at one of the four Shijiazhuang GymAngel centres I am greeted by all the staff (about 20 teachers) giving me a standing ovation. How lovely! The centre's in Shijiazhuang have been running Baby Love Music Fun for over a year and parents and children have been loving it. There are posters all around the centre advertising the upcoming concert and I can hear my music being piped through the speakers in the centre. The poster looks great - really professional which is what I've come to expect from Gym Angel.
Then it was straight into rehearsals with the mascots after a delicious Roast Duck and other yummy treats for lunch hosted by the generous GymAngel managers.
The kids absolutely adore these Mascots - they're famous here so I'm going to have to work hard to outshine them on stage!
This concert concept is different to Baby Love Music Fun interactive concerts as presented before as they tell me Chinese parents prefer a story. I liked this idea and was happy to go along with their idea for the concert. The basic concept of the Magic Legend Musical is a familiar concept – the GymAngel mascots must go travel the world and pass challenges and trials to gather 4 magic wands which will unlock 4 magic boxes which we find at the Sydney Opera House of course. I help them along the way by singing and assisting them find the wands.
Songs and music from the Baby Love Music Fun courses have been selected through collaboration and we have come up with a great selection of genres and moods for the Chinese audiences that allow us to travel to various countries around the world on our journey.
Here's the list of songs selected for the concert. Regular members of Baby Love Music Fun classes will recognise many class favourites from this list.
What Do You Think My Name Is – sung in Chinese from Walk and Talkers
My Favourite Things – sung live by me from Movers and Groovers
Vivaldi Four Seasons Summer from several courses
Magnificent men in their Flying Machines from Walkers
The Dance Duet from Hansel and Gretl from Walk and Talkers – sung live by me
Drumming All Together from Walkers and Walk and Talkers– sung live by me
The Ants Go Marching from Walkers
Ten Little Indians from Walk and Talkers– in chinese
When I’m a Butterfly from Walkers sung live by me
A Tisket A tasket from Movers and Groovers- sung live by me
Baby Elephant Walk form Walk and Talkers
I Love My Cat from Walkers
Our Wolf, Gorilla, Lion music from Walk and Talkers
The Lion Sleeps Tonight from several courses
Mamma Mia from baby courses sung in Chinese
Michael Row the Boat from Walkers
Aussie Country Garden from Walkers– sung live by me with my gorgeous Aussie animal shadow puppets
Hide and Seek after the Largo from Barber of Seville from Walk and Talkers sung live by me
When the Saints Go Marching In from Walk and Talkers sung live by me
The Magic Hat form Walk and Talkers sung live by me
Encore is What a Wonderful World – also sung live by me.
Because we are moving around to 3 different cities and will work with 3 different casts everyone else’s parts have been pre-recorded. It’s only me that has to sing live this time. This is also great for me as I'm singing to all our class backing tracks and require little personal rehearsal as I've been singing most of these songs in class over the last 10 years.
Rehearsals in week one have focused on working out how it all links together staging and actions. It’s been so great to watch the team at work and to see the parents and children who are also involved enjoying the process.
My script is in English and the Mascots speak in Chinese so I have to look like I know what they are saying much of the time. It’s helping me learn my chinese.
Highlights have been seeing a few of the songs translated to great effect in Chinese now. Like the “What Do You Think My Name Is” which is now “Ni Cai Wo Jiao Shenme Ming Zi, Wo Cai Ni Xiang Zhi Dao. Wo Jiao Mel” A fantastic way to learn chinese is to sing it. Look out for this one in class soon, I'll be bringing these new lyrics to our classes. Why not?
Watching the Chinese parents interact with their children is also quite different to Australian parents. The parents really get into all the action, dancing singing and they don't hold back helping their children by literally swaying them in time to the music and helping them drum. We would probably say it's helicopter parenting but the kids don’t fight against it as I sometimes see as a teacher in Australia but rather enjoy the interaction and learn quickly. This video shows this really well - keep in mind this is the just the second time the kids had attempted this.
My costumes are lovely and they really love the whole fact that I’m an opera singer…hence the whole thing ends up at the Sydney opera house. My costumes reflect this.
The theatre itself looks great - we got to go in and have a quick look to block out where in the audience we will have to find the magical boxes as I sing our famous, Hide and Seek song to the fabulous Largo from the Barber of Seville. I'm looking forward to getting up on stage again tomorrow and having a sing. I really think the Chinese families are going to LOVE it. Wish me luck...first concert is tomorrow.