As the musical “School of Rock” drew the curtain in Shanghai Sunday after 29 performances, Kempton Maloney, 10-year-old Australian drummer in the play, has gained a huge popularity in China.
The musical, based on a hit movie of the same name, is composed by British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Shanghai is the first stop of its three-month China tour.
Kempton is among a dozen teenage players in the musical. They are required to be accompanied by their guardians during the tour.
He said it was the first time for his mother and him to travel this far, which made it more exciting. Without home duties, his mother had time to explore places in Shanghai with him.
In the play, the lead character gets little support from his parent to support his musical dreams. However, in real life things are a little different for Kempton, who has huge parental support.
The performing trip does not mean he can avoid study. In order to catch up with their studies, he and other young actors take online courses backstage. At the end of each week, teachers review their study online.
Kempton’s mother Simone Maloney said like many parents in China, she considers school important. But taking her son to China in a professional musical was worthwhile.
“I want him to choose his own journey, and I want him to do what he loves most. We haven’t experienced it before, so it’s been a lot of learning all along the way,” she said. “The response of audience in the theater has been really lovely.”
Zhang Yifei is the only teenage player who has Chinese background in the troupe. Her mother was born in Shanghai.
The mother, Zhu Cailun, said the journey in China was an opportunity that many parents could not even dream of for their children.
She hopes the experience will help her daughter become more confident and professional on the stage.
The musical has helped boost cultural exchange among youngsters. Over 39,000 Chinese have watched the show. Ahead of the performance, Shanghai SMGLive organized a series of campus activities to brief middle school and primary school students on western musicals and operas.