The popular ABBA musical Mamma Mia is taking on a new frontier, with a Chinese version to premiere in Shanghai on Monday.
Organizers have billed the Mandarin-language translation of Mamma Mia as "the first time a blockbuster contemporary musical has been presented in Chinese in China."
A partnership between the musical's creative team and Chinese officials, the production is essentially the London original, translated for and staged by a Chinese troupe, with a few tweaks to reflect local culture.
The project — the result of years of negotiation and planning — proved challenging, said original Mamma Mia producer Judy Craymer.
"There's virtually no infrastructure for commercial musical theatre in China, so finding the talent we needed — actors, technicians, stage crew and musicians — proved extremely difficult," she said in a statement.
"Locating a theatre to accommodate us took a long time and even translating the lyrics into a tonal language was a major challenge," she added.
"But we did it. We're here and it works."
The Mandarin Mamma Mia is the 14th different language version of the hit musical, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Broadway in October, is currently in its 13th year on London's West End, and also spawned a 2008 film with a star-studded cast led by Meryl Streep.
A touring English-language version of the musical has also travelled the globe, with stops that included China.
Reasons like these helped convince officials to move ahead with the project, said Tian Yuan, president of the show's government-supported Chinese co-producer, United Asia Live Entertainment Co.
"Why we chose it, to be frank, is because of its success," he said.
"It will not only give Chinese audiences an excellent show, but also bring advanced techniques and experience from abroad which will enrich Chinese culture and our ability to create our own, original productions."
After the Shanghai run, the translated version will travel to major cities in China, including Beijing and Guangzhou. A subsequent 2012 jaunt will continue in mainland China and stop in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Singapore.