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SMC Brings Broadway to China

By Lookout Staff

September 15 – It may be some 9,000 miles from Broadway to China and a cultural world away, but Santa Monica College students next month hope to bridge that gap with music.

In an unusual cultural exchange, a contingent 18 SMC theater students, two top student journalists and several professors and employees is heading to China to put on a show.

“American Reflections: Broadway in Concert" will be staged at the Shandong University of the Arts in Jinan, a modern city south of Beijing known for its high-tech industries and its lake parks.

The uniquely American show – which will feature numbers from a wide cross-section of hit musicals including such classics as "Westside Story," "A Chorus Line," and "Sweet Charity" – will be part of Shandong’s 50th anniversary celebration. Shandong is paying all travel expenses for the students.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to share a uniquely American art form with fellow art students and to be exposed to a fascinating and ancient culture with a rich artistic heritage," said Perviz Sawoski, chair of the SMC Theatre Arts Department and one of the directors of the show.

"We have an amazing cast, and I am proud to showcase out students' talents," Sawoski said.

"China is in the forefront of the news, and to be able to take a group of students to this fascinating country provides a golden opportunity to live up to SMC's commitment to global citizenship," said speech professor Nancy Grass Hemmert, faculty coordinator of the trip.

The invitation from Shandong University of the Arts came after SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang visited the school last year as part of SMC's efforts to expand its international education programs.

Local residents don’t have to book a flight to enjoy the trip, as well as the show. Local audiences can see the show between September 26 and October 4 at the SMC Theatre Arts Main Stage.

In addition, the SMC student newspaper, the Corsair, is sending editor Tom Wright and news editor Jonathan Ramos to document the journey with articles and photos.

Students, as well as professors, will also be blogging before, during and after the trip on a post called "Road to Jinan: Student Reflections on China." The blogs can be found at SMC's main web page ( under "Hot Topics" or at "Road to Jinan" .

The SMC theater students have not only been rehearsing intensely for several weeks, they are also enrolled in a class called" Contemporary Life in China" taught by SMC Chinese professor Joe Wu.

The SMC group will spend just over a week in China, from October 11 to October 19, stopping in Beijing for two days before flying to Jinan. The performance of "American Reflections" will take place on Oct0ber 16.

While in Jinan, the students will visit the nearby home of Confucius in Qufu and Tai Mountain, one of the five most sacred mountains in China, college officials said.

They will also attend a Chinese opera master class at the university, and SMC professors will give a musical theater master class to Shandong students.

Separately, a group of SMC supporters is also traveling to Beijing and Jinan and will attend the SMC "American Reflections" performance at Shandong.

Founded in 1958, Shandong University of the Arts has an enrollment of nearly 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students and is a highly respected institution. Its 14 schools and departments -- which include visual art, music, opera, theater, dance and arts education -- offer 21 undergraduate majors.

The school has won several teaching awards and its alumni have gone on to distinguished music and arts careers throughout China.



Ted Winterer for Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Margaret


Vote # 158


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