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Sound of Broadway! The Making of China’s Newest U.S.-China Show

July 15 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Join us for a virtual performance and talk with top Broadway and Chinese artists
Thursday July 15, 7:30 PM ET (U.S.) / Friday July 16, 7:30 AM (China)

What U.S.-China tensions? The show must go on!

Tune in for a sneak peek of China’s latest Broadway show: Sound of the Silk Road, which premiers in Xi’an on July 23. Watch performances and a “Talk-Back” with the American and Chinese artists who created the show. Performers will sing some numbers, and the creators will share highpoints, challenges, and the fun of producing a top-caliber cross-cultural show.

With top Chinese acrobats, musicians, magicians, and Lion King-sized puppets—not to mention a West-meets-East script involving time travel—the show presented unprecedented technical and cultural challenges. Join us as the creatives share their stories. How is making such a show in China different from Broadway? How to incorporate Chinese melodies, even traditional Chinese opera, into a Broadway score? How did the creatives overcome the challenges of producing a cross-cultural show like this? And what’s the story of Broadway in China?

Register today, and invite your friends, for this fascinating performance and discussion!


Introductory remarks: Zhou Bing, Chairman, Shaanxi Tourism Group

Marc Acito is the writer of Sound of the Silk Road, which premieres in Xi’an in July 2021. In 2016, he was the first Broadway writer to create a new musical in China, The Secret.

Before his work in China, Acito wrote the libretto of the Broadway musical Allegiance, which New York Newsday recognized for its “well-structured book” and “fully developed characters.” Other shows include A Room with a View and Chasing Rainbows, a musical about Judy Garland planned for a run in London’s West End in 2022.

Acito won the Ken Kesey Award for his novel How I Paid for College, which was also a New York Times Editor’s Choice.  He made his directing debut with his musical Bastard Jones at The Cell in New York, which he plans to adapt and direct as an independent film for New Edens, a production company he founded to produce low-budget musicals for digital media. Acito teaches History and the Musical at NYU’s New Studio on Broadway.

Don Frantz, Executive Producer of Sound of the Silk Road, is Executive Producer at Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, responsible for China operations, focusing on the creation of original musicals and touring and/or localizing Broadway musicals. He was the Broadway Supervisor for the recent Jonathan Lee’s musical “Spirit of Love.”

Don also is the owner of Town Square Productions, Inc., a theatrical management and creative development enterprise in New York City.

Don has extensive experience in China’s theatrical world. He directed the largest magic spectacular in Asia and co-produced and directed an award-winning Mandarin adaptation of off-Broadway’s “That Physics Show.” As Chief Theater Consultant for Grassland Foundation of Inner Mongolia, Don wrote and directed “Golden Huyang,” an annual outdoor musical in the Alashan national forest. Don was also Chief Creative Officer for China Broadway Entertainment/Jetavana led by Ivy Zhong, producer of Jay Chou’s musical, The Secret.   

In addition to a continuing relationship with the Central Academy of Drama, Don has taught classes in theater producing and management at the Shanghai Theater Academy.

Living half-time in Beijing from 2007-2017, Don supervised the China tour of “42nd Street,” Elton John’s “AIDA”, and the co-production with Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama of “FAME” in Mandarin. He has worked with Beijing’s Songlei Musical Theater Development Production Company, China National Acrobatic Troupe, and the National Theatre of China.

Don has served on the faculty of UCLA’s Department of Theater, Film and Television and wrote the book A Celebration of the Broadway Musical, Beauty and the Beast. He speaks and reads only elementary Mandarin, so far.

Gabriel Barre Director of Sound of the Silk Road, is an internationally acclaimed director who most recently directed the new musical Amazing Grace on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre. He also co-created the new musical Magic To Do with Stephen Schwartz and Mark Hartman for Princess Cruises. In Prague, Czech Republic, he directed another original musical, Carmen, now seeing a revival after its four year sold out run.

Gabriel’s credits in the United States include the New York productions of The Wild Party by Andrew Lippa (nominated for 13 Drama Desk Awards and 5 Outer Critics Circle awards, both including Best Director and for which he won the Calloway Award), Summer of ʼ42, Stars in Your Eyes, Honky-Tonk Highway, John & Jen and Almost, Maine. He directed the U.S. and Canadian tour of Pippin, as well as the national tour of Rodger and Hammersteinʼs Cinderella, starring Eartha Kitt.

His regional theatre credits include, Private Lives at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Tom Jones, Camelot and the world premiere productions of Memphis, at the North Shore Music Theatre in Boston and at Theatreworks in California; Sweeney Todd, Finianʼs Rainbow, Houdini and many other new musicals at the Goodspeed Opera House; Stand By Your Man at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; Hay Fever and Pericles at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Little Shop of Horrors and Flower Drum Song at the American Musical Theatre of San Jose; as well as Tommy, Hair and Loveʼs Labours Lost at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

As an actor, Gabriel has been nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical and appears often in film and on TV.

Nia NIAN (年蔓婷, Nian Manting), one of China’s top “Broadway” performers, plays Su Su in Sound of the Silk Road.

As an actress, NIAN has performed in Into the Woods (Chinese version), Sound of Silk Road, Mama Mia (Chinese version), Little Shop of Horrors (Chinese version), Ultimate Broadway, I love you, You’re perfect, Now change (Chinese version), Rent (commercial production). She also performed in the original Chinese musicals Teddy and Friends, Cry to Earth (Chinese original symphonic poetry play), The Secret, and Lou Lan.

As a singer, NIAN performed in various concerts and commercial productions in numerous grand commercial concert halls across China during the past decade. She also released her first hip hop and R&B single N.I.A in 2020. NIAN graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2015. She is trained in various singing styles, including operatic soprano, pop, rock, hip hop, R&B, as well as Jazz, Latin, Tap, and contemporary dance.

Robert Nederlander, Jr., is a third generation member of the Nederlander family, one of the great dynasties of the American theatre. He is the founder and President of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, which manages theatres and presents Broadway productions in emerging international markets, as well as produces international productions for Broadway and elsewhere in the United States.

In 2005, Nederlander established the first foreign joint venture in the Chinese performance industry. Since then, he has cooperated with numerous Chinese entertainment organizations in theatre management, show production and education initiatives. In 2007, Nederlander presented 42nd Street, the first Broadway show to tour in cities across China. Other shows presented in China by Nederlander include West Side Story, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, LUMA, Fame-The Musical and Broadway Rox.

Nederlander has partnered with Boston University’s Metropolitan College to found an advanced graduate program in Performing Arts Enterprise, as well as the Performing Arts Enterprise Partnership, which offers internships in the commercial performing arts, with a focus on the Broadway industry. In 2009 he established the ‘China on Broadway’ initiative to bring the best of Chinese culture to Broadway audiences in New York City and across North America. Nederlander presented Soul of Shaolin, the first Chinese production to appear on Broadway. He is a Trustee of China Institute, a leading cultural non-profit in New York City.

Peter Kam, a renowned Hong Kong composer, wrote the music for Sound of the Silk Road. He has contributed numerous works to the musical theater, including And Then There’s You, Born to be a Hero, Love you Teresa, Ah! Ku Liang, the hit Mama Love Me Once Again which won the top Jury Honor at the Daegu International Musical Festival in 2014 and A Jew in Shanghai which opened the Shanghai International Arts Festival in 2015, and Jews in Shanghai, which is currently in development to open on Broadway.

An 11-time Hong Kong Film Awards winner for Original Film Music, Kam has scored over 90 films. His recent movie scores include Soul Mate, Helios, Finding Mr. Right series, Cold War series, as well as Concerto of The Bully.

In 2007, Kam was commissioned by the Government of the Hong Kong SAR to compose the theme song for the 10th Anniversary of the Establishment of the HKSAR, “Just Because You Are Here”. In addition, he was commissioned to compose the theme song for the Beijing 2008 Olympics’ 1-year countdown campaign theme song, “We Are Ready,” as well as the Beijing 2008 International Olympics Committee dedication song “Hard To Say Goodbye”.

In 2008, the Hong Kong government awarded him the Medal of Honor for his contributions to the arts.


Dorinda (Dinda) Elliott is SVP, Director of Programs, at the China Institute.  Before joining China Institute, Elliott worked as editorial and communications director at the Paulson Institute, which promotes U.S.-China relations and sustainable growth in both countries.  Elliott worked as a journalist for some 30 years, with a deep background in China. Elliott was Newsweek Bureau Chief in Beijing, Moscow, and Hong Kong, then Asia Editor. As Editor-in-Chief of Asiaweek from 2000-2001, she relaunched the magazine with a new focus on China and business. Elliott was later an Assistant Managing Editor at Time magazine, then Global Affairs Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, where she wrote about China, global issues, and corporate social responsibility.  Elliott graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and speaks rusty Russian and French. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband Adi Ignatius. They have three sons.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department Of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


July 15
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
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