'Trumps' make Cantonese opera great again

Top News | Phoenix Un 15 Apr 2019

A Cantonese opera with US President Donald Trump and his fictional twin brother as the lead characters has been a sensation - prompting its creator to cast an eye on Broadway.

Trump On Show, on for four nights - including tonight's closing - at Sunbeam Theater, North Point, attracted international headlines due to the characters.

Even the BBC and Cable News Network came over to cover the show.

Directed by feng shui master Edward Li Kui-ming, it is about Trump and twin Chuan Pu, who lives in China during the Cultural Revolution.

Cantonese opera star Loong Koon-tin plays three characters - Trump, Chuan Pu and former leader Mao Zedong.

The show is the second part of a trilogy.

The story also involves North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mao's wife Jiang Qing and even aliens and ghosts.

The show has attracted full houses to the 1,033-seat theater that included rare crowds of youngsters and Westerners.

"We will take this to the Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon Cultural District next year and we hope to take it to Broadway," Li said during the curtain call on the first night.

"My ultimate dream is to perform this in front of Trump."

Li said he got the idea from the fact that former US president Barack Obama has a half-brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, who lives in the mainland.

The story tells the tale of a young Trump visiting the mainland with then-president Richard Nixon in 1972.

Trump tells the Chinese leaders that he has a twin brother called Chuan Pu who he knows lives in the mainland but cannot locate.

Chuan Pu, it turns out, works at a crematorium in Kaifeng city, Henan, where he meets the dying Liu Shaoqi, a potential Mao successor who falls from power.

In contrast to Trump, who is aggressive, Chuan Pu is gentle and caring and he declines a chance to abscond to the United States in order to keep his promise to Liu.

"Chuan Pu" is actually the Chinese translation for Trump.

Trump's story arc is limited and his character appears for the first time halfway into the show. The second time he appears is during a scene in which he discusses a plan with Kim - a business venture in which ginseng is added to Coca-Cola.

A part that audiences love is when Loong chants "You're fired" - Trump's famous quote during his time as The Apprentice host.

Chuan Pu is the actual lead as he goes through the pains of the Cultural Revolution. Later on he also pretends to be Trump after he is captured by aliens.

Former legislator Bill Tang Ka-piu went to see the show with his family, including his nine-year-old daughter, who is studying Cantonese opera.

Tang said the show is "very interesting."

He added: "It's very successful in attracting people who don't know Cantonese opera. I saw many young people and foreigners in the theater. And to think some people might not even watch the opera even if they got free tickets."

He said the show is successful in satirizing politics.

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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