Fri, Jul 25, 2003 - Page 17 News List

Technicolor subway book

Jimmy Liao is the best-selling inspirational writer of illustrated books and has put one of his works on the stage

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Scenes from Jimmy's Subway Book, which has been adapted into a musical performed by Taipei's Creative Society.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LOCUS PUBLISHING

A combination of best-selling illustrated book author Jimmy Liao (幾米), theater director Miguel Li (黎煥雄) and film star Wing Fan (范植偉) has ensured the success of Sound of Colors -- Jimmy's Subway Book, a Musical Journey (地下鐵), the latest play from Taipei's Creative Society

(創作社).

Jimmy Liao's first stage presentation of one of his books -- which are popular in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China -- has created such a buzz that tickets for the six performances at the National Theater in Taipei, started yesterday, sold out two weeks ago. 

"I have been anticipating this for so long, like the audience, and want to see the result. I want to see the crew really bring out that flower in my heart," said Liao, in language that is characteristic of his books.

In the large ballet rehearsal room at the National Theater, the crew for Sound of Colors repeatedly rehearsed each scene. Chen Chien-chi (陳建騏), the composer, directed the musicians through the jolly and slightly sentimental songs, creating an ambience for the setting, which is imaginary subway stations.

Pop singer Chen Chi-chen (陳綺貞) plays the protagonist, a young blind girl who takes a bold adventure, going alone, into the unknown world of subway stations. Chen, putting on her props -- shades and a walking stick -- moved toward the center of the rehearsal room. Wing Fan, who plays the mysterious man in black, stayed in a corner, reciting his lines. Then, a group of singers and dancers, in their colorful costumes showed up at the front of the stage, while director Li called on his actors to position themselves. "Wing, now you take position!"

Published three years ago, Sound of Colors is one of Jimmy Liao's most popular books. It is the second time one of Liao's stories has been adapted to a different media. A Chance of Sunshine (向左轉, 向右轉) was adapted into the movie Turn Left, Turn Right by Hong Kong director Jonny To (杜琪峰). The Warner Brothers group invested in the movie, which is scheduled to be released in

September.

The story of Sound of Colors describes a young lady who lost her eyesight in early childhood and decides to take a subway trip to her 15th birthday party, by walking aimlessly through different stations. In Liao's delicate, colorful and imaginary landscape, the girl's adventure turns out to be a journey that tests her courage and attitude toward life.

"What can be seen, and what cannot be seen, and what is the departure and what is the destination all become unclear as the play unfolds," Liao said.

"The inspiration I had for the book was based on many of my memories of traveling. I've been to different subway stations and seen different scenes, all shifting and fleeting," Liao said.

"In the story, the blind girl could not see the world's scenery, but imagination has made her world broader and her life more free."

Liao said when he created Sound of Colors, he tried to present the life journey like a play, which happened in acts. So, he said, he was happy to see the book actually become a play. The director is Liao's good friend, director Miguel Li. As a music producer he has produced four albums based on the illustrated works of Liao. He said Jimmy's unique sensitivity and his clear and simple language, allied to the solid and original pictures, created a glamorous image. "This is the main reason why he [Liao] wanted to adapt the book into a play."

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