Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett & Chen Shi-Zheng Present MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST

monkeyface1_jpg_170304a.jpgU.S. PREMIERE MAY 22-JUNE 8 AT 2008 SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA IN CHARLESTON, SC

Following sold-out runs in Manchester and Paris, Director Chen Shi-Zheng and GORILLAZ masterminds Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s adaptation of MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST will make its Stateside debut with a May 22 preview performance followed by 17 shows staged May 23 -June 8 all at the 2008 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. The show will open in London two months later at the Royal Opera House.

MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST was first staged June 28, 2007 in the UK at the inaugural Manchester International Festival, whose director Alex Poots suggested that world-renowned theatre, opera and film director Shi-Zheng enlist GORILLAZ co-creators Albarn and Hewlett to provide unique, modern musical and visual interpretations of the themes and characters of this most beloved work of Chinese folklore.

The result is a new opera for the 21st century based on an ancient Chinese legend reworked as a dazzling spectacle involving nearly 40 Chinese circus acrobats, martial artists and singers from China with an orchestra of Western and traditional Chinese instruments. Developed in Beijing, Paris, Berlin and London the show has had sell-out runs in Manchester and Paris.

MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST is performed in Mandarin with subtitles, its storyline chronicling the Monkey King’s journey to enlightenment as it takes him undersea, to decadent banquets in heaven, through encounters with Spider Maidens and Skeleton Demons, and eventually to paradise. Hewlett’s renditions of MONKEY’s cacophony of characters combine with Albarn’s debut opera score’s deft integration of western and traditional Chinese instrumentation to create a wholly engrossing new universe that reinvents a legend with a thrilling combination of music and action.

Chen Shi-Zheng’s previous credits range from Chinese opera and theatre to the Hollywood movie Dark Matter (starring Meryl Streep). Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are the co-creators of award-winning virtual band Gorillaz, whose two albums Gorillaz and Demon Days have amassed global sales of over 10 million, the latter of which spawned the Demon Days Live extravaganza, a tribute to the animated group featuring guest performers ranging from Dennis Hopper to the late Ike Turner, performed a total of five times each at the Manchester Opera House and New York City’s Apollo Theater.

About Spoleto Festival USA
Spoleto Festival USA has firmly established itself as one of the world’s major arts festivals since its inception in 1977.   For 17 days and nights each spring, Spoleto Festival USA fills Charleston, South Carolina’s historic theatres, churches and outdoor spaces with over 100 performances by renowned artists and emerging performers in disciplines ranging from opera, theater, music theater, dance, and chamber, symphonic, choral and jazz music, as well as the visual arts.   For more information, please visit www.spoletousa.org.

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