Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Starting from scratch

US choreographer and director Brook Hall is on a mission to bring locally produced English-language musical theater to Taiwan. “[Title of Show],” which begins Friday, is a step in the right direction

By Diane Baker and Marcus Aurelius  /  Staff reporter and Contributing reporter

life imitates art

Hall, who came to Taiwan in 2001 on a whim for an international arts festival and decided to stay, told the Taipei Times that the musical mirrors his life.

“It’s very similar to my story,” Hall said. “You take steps and keep moving forward. If you believe something has potential, you do it.”

After making a living teaching tap dancing, flamenco and salsa to “bored doctor’s wives” for his first few years here, Hall wanted more. “No one knew, but I had ambition to do theater on my own,” he said.

Hall’s first foray into theater was Smokey Joe’s Cafe, which starred jazz vocalist Mandy Gaines. “I thought if I’m going to do it, I’m going to have to make a splash,” Hall said.

When the budget spiraled out of control, the only way for Hall to get the musical made was to give up ticket profits, meaning he wouldn’t make a dime from the production he spent months working on. “It was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken knowing that I wouldn’t get anything back,” he said. “I had to give up my life savings to buy my reputation.”

Hall’s bet on himself hit the jackpot as Smokey Joe’s Cafe went on to be a smashing success and caught the attention of the big wigs of the National Theater. He was then hired to direct Mandopop songstress eVonne Hsu (許慧欣) in a large-scale production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

Hall now runs his own production company and has many projects of various sizes in the works. “[title of show] proves that sometimes smaller is better,” Hall said. “The writers created something that had never been seen before. There’s a lot of great music and it has become the Grease of now. It’s really fun and speaks to anyone with creative ambitions.”

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