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Chinese musical ‘Terracotta Warrior 3D’ comes to Denver

The Terracotta Warriors are in fighting form—with a 50-strong troupe of Chinese singers and dancers. ‘Terracotta Warrior 3D’— a ground-breaking musical about the first emperor of China — will make its US debut in Denver, Colorado.

In a rehearsal room at the University of Denver, dancer Ariel Breitman goes through the motions of a Chinese musical that is unlike anything he has experienced before.

“Chinese dance is a little more fluid, it’s natural, it’s athletic,” Breitman said.

And director/producer Dennis Law says it is about to be presented to an American audience with more bells and whistles than they could ask for.

“Those that have seen it in Asia have really been awestruck by the new theatrical experience,” Law said.

3D Terracotta Warriors is new alright. This version of the story of Emperor Qin and his life-size terracotta army is more than song and dance, color and costumes. It features a high-definition video wall with a million LED lights, which serves as backdrop for the performers on stage.

“The 3D image behind it enhances the action and makes the story told in a way not ever done before,” Law said.

Challenges like marrying the film to the music, ironing out technical bugs and arranging visas for 50 Chinese dancers and singers have matched the scale of the production.

“It turned out the effort was a lot more troublesome than I had originally expected,” Law said.

Chen Jiao plays the emperor’s favorite concubine.

“It’s different. As a dancer, I’ve had to mesh with high technology like never before. There’s dancing, there’s acrobatics, there’s martial arts. It makes this mixing somewhat difficult,” Chen said.

Breitman plays the emperor’s eunuch in the show.

“I’ve never seen it before, and I’m really excited to see how it works with an audience,” Breitman said.

For four weeks, 32 shows, that American audience will don extra-large 3D glasses and take it all in and try to dodge arrows fired by the Emperor’s soldiers that appear to be headed right at them.

“When that happens, I see audiences duck because those arrows are coming to their eyes,” Law said,

“[It] gives the audience the notion that you’re fully immersed in the story rather than outside looking in.”

That is what makes this musical different, Law says, very different.