The cai luong (reformed theatre) play Nua Doi Huong Phan (The Flavour), a famous production by scriptwriters Hai Trieu and Hoa Phuong, will be restaged in a new version 58 years after its premiere.
The 90-minute musical work is a love story between Tung, a rich man, and Huong, a rural young woman who worked as a prostitute to support her family.
Tung’s father disapproves of Huong’s background and the relationship, so Tung marries another girl.
On his wedding day, he realises his future wife is Huong’s younger sister.
Since its debut by the Thanh Minh-Thanh Nga Troupe in then-Sai Gon (now HCM City) in 1957, the play has been staged and filmed in many versions.
This performance is part of a drama project called Tai Danh Dat Viet (Vietnamese Talents), launched by the Gia Bao Entertainment Company.
It has attracted veteran actors Thanh Sang, Ut Bach Lan. Minh Vuong, Le Thuy and Vietnamese-American artist Phuong Lien, all of whom are seen as some of the top talents of cai luong.
Comedian Bao Quoc and young artists Hong Loan, Tu Suong and Ha Linh are also featured.
“Our project Tai Danh Dat Viet aims to preserve cai luong by restaging famous plays, which have been performed by different generations of artists. We want to encourage young people learn more about their traditional theatre,” said actor Gia Bao, owner of Gia Bao Entertainment.
Bao has worked with partners to hire staff and invest in the project, hiring fashion designers Le Long Dung, Moc Thanh and An Kha.
“After staging Nua Doi Huong Phan, we will release two plays Doi Co Luu (Miss Luu’s Life) and To Anh Nguyet (Miss To Anh Nguyet), which were staged in the 1930s by cai luong pioneers Nam Chau, Phung Ha and Ut Tra On, all of whom were awarded the title of People’s Artist from the Government.”
Both plays, written by Tran Huu Trang, highlight Vietnamese women, their challenges and sufferings under feudal society. They are recognised as canonical cai luong and have been staged many times at home and abroad.
Playwright Trang was the first to feature women as leading characters in cai luong. Though he has passed away, his art is still alive among Vietnamese audiences, particularly southerners.
The show Nua Doi Huong Phan will be staged on January 30 and February 1 at Ben Thanh Theatre, 6 Mac Dinh Chi Street, District 1.