Fri, Sep 23, 2005 - Page 14 News List

Take a ride to the Milky Way

By Meredith Dodge  /  STAFF REPORTER

Actors from Night Train to the Stars.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CKS AND BENQ

Night Train to the Stars arrives at the National Theater Hall, and if you're a fan of literary giant Kenji Miyazawa, make sure to catch the production in Taipei or at one of its next stops, Taichung and Hsinchu.

This multimedia musical draws its inspiration from the famous children's story of the same name written in 1924 by Miyazawa. Joint-producers CKS Cultural Center and electronics company BenQ have invited former Japan Broadcasting Corporation musical director Koji Sakurai to compose an original score and Taiwanese experimental group Off PW director Li Jian-chang (李建常) to design the technologically rich theatrics.

Though written over eight decades ago, Night Train to the Stars lends itself well to a fantastical multimedia show. It tells the story of Giovanni, a poor young boy who rides a train through the Milky Way with his classmate Campanella, who drowned trying to save another classmate. During their journey, they encounter many interesting people, such as the scholar who digs through a 1.2 million-year-old geological layer, the hunter who catches birds on the banks of the Milky Way and the passengers of a ship that has crashed into an iceberg. Only in the end does Giovanni realize that it's his friend's last journey.

The story has inspired music, a film and a comic book that was popular in Japan and Taiwan in the late 1970s and, more recently, on several multimedia Web sites. The multimedia musical version starting tonight takes a quote from the original book as its crux.

"No matter how difficult a situation it is, you just have to follow the correct path, even if you have to walk up or down from a mountain ridge, you will be getting closer to true happiness with every step."

Night Train has two

7:30pm performances in Taipei (tonight and tomorrow) and two 2:30pm matinees (tomorrow and Sunday). The National Theater Hall is at 21-1, Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路211). Tickets are NT$400 and are available through Artsticket, (02) 3393 9888 or www.artsticket.com.tw.

Taichung's showings are at Stock 20 (台中20號倉庫) on Oct. 1 to Oct. 2, and Hsinchu's are at Art Site of Railway Warehouse (新竹市鐵道藝術村) on Oct. 8 to Oct. 9.

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