Make Arias Great Again: North Point theater to put on Cantonese opera about Trump

The promotional poster for a Cantonese opera about Donald Trump. Photo via Facebook/Sunbeam Theatre.
The promotional poster for a Cantonese opera about Donald Trump. Photo via Facebook/Sunbeam Theatre.

Question: What do Alec Baldwin, Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, and Lung Koon-tin have in common? The answer: They’ve all impersonated US President Donald Trump.

If the last name left you scratching your head, let us enlighten you.

Lung is a Cantonese opera star known for playing lead roles in classics like Happy Marriage Achieved, The Mysterious Affair at Jizhou Academy, and Deadly Hornet’s Sting. Cantonese opera performances that typically look something like this:

But in April, Lung will be hanging up the robes, white make-up, and spear to don a suit, red tie, and orange make-up to play the American Creamsicle in Chief in a new Cantonese opera.

Trump On Show will be performed at the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point April 12-15, and tickets — which cost between HK$180 and HK$500 (about US$23 to US$64) — will go on sale on Valentine’s Day.

The Cantonese theater house posted news of the ticket sales on their Facebook page, and included a poster of Lung dressed as Trump carrying a ping-pong paddle in an apparent reference to “ping-pong diplomacy,” the table tennis-based exchange that laid the groundwork for the normalization of US-China relations under another great American president, Richard Nixon.

沉悶的香港需要一些匪夷所思的創意.享受一國兩制的創作自由.李居明大師振興粵劇 第三十四劇.《粵劇特朗普》~《毛澤東之虛雲三夢》之2.演出:龍貫天 陳咏儀 新劍郎 鄧美玲 王超群 陳鴻進 一點鴻 呂洪廣 白雲龍…

Posted by 新光中國戲曲文化 on Thursday, January 24, 2019

News of the opera was first announced in mid-December by the opera’s playwright, Edward Li Kui-ming.

Li — a Feng Shui master who also runs the Sunbeam Theatre — is famous for penning the controversial Cantonese opera Chairman Mao, depicting the private life of the founding father of the People’s Republic of China.

That play was performed in 2016 to commemorate China National Day and the 47th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, with Lung, who will also be playing Trump, in the titular role. (Check out the BBC Chinese report below of him in action.)

When speaking to local media about his decision to write a two-hour Cantonese opera about Trump, Li described the 45th POTUS as an interesting and amusing character.

Very little is known about the plot, but reports that it will focus less on international and domestic politics, and more on Trump’s personal life and secrets, which Li says have a lot of dramatic potential.

The playwright also added that the for Lung’s Trump look, the production drew inspiration from Streep’s impersonation of the US leader during a Shakespeare in the Park gala in 2016.

Other characters that will feature in the opera include Hillary Clinton, Ivanka Trump, and Kim Jong-un.

Lung, for his part, added that he was personally excited about playing Trump because it opens up more opportunities for Cantonese opera stars to play Chinese and foreign celebrities, as opposed to the traditional roles typically associated with the art form.

Although the focus will be more on the soap opera that is Trump’s personal life, Li said that there would be cameos from both Chairman Mao and China’s first premier, Zhou Enlai (both of whom are long dead and neither of whom Trump could probably pick out of a line-up, making their inclusion something of a mystery that Li did little to clear up).

Hongkongers, meanwhile, have been taking to social media to talk about how much they want to see Trump singing his heart out in Cantonese.

One person on the popular message board HK Golden imagined an operatic rendition of Trump’s signature line: “Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu areeeeeeeeeeeee fi~~~~~~~~~~~redddddddddd.”

Another netizen, noting that tickets go on sale Valentine’s Day, quipped: “If your girlfriend saw you got tickets for this, she’d definitely break up with you!”

Others hoped that Trump on Show could open the door for Cantonese operas about other world leaders, like former Chief Executive CY Leung, who governed Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Movement; current Chinese President Xi Jinping; and even Russian president and noted Trump man-crush Vladimir Putin.

Li has yet to respond to a request for comment from Coconuts HK, so in the meantime, feel free to include all your wild speculations about the opera’s plot in the comments below.

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