By Greg Hugh
Prior to the curtain raising at Northrup Auditorium, a small group of invited guests gathered at Legendary Spice Chinese Restaurant for a reception with organizers and performers from “The Greatest Spirit,” which would be presenting its overseas premiere. During the reception, representatives from various organizations along with a few political dignitaries, including the Deputy Consul General from the Consulate General of The People's Republic of China in Chicago provided some brief remarks followed by refreshments, including spirits.
Then it was onward to Northrup Auditorium to watch the show. Several speakers welcomed the gathering.
True to its advance billing, “The Greatest Spirit” presented poetry, music and dance in mural-like story scenes, telling the tale of the Chinese spirits (liquor) culture, and highlights the grandeur of traditional Chinese operas, the exquisite beauty of the costumes of past Chinese dynasties and the unique styles of Chinese ancient architecture.
While the show visually lived up to its advance billing, the full impact may have been lost on those that could not read Chinese since most of the 11 different performances was accompanied by an explanation in Chinese that was projected onto the stage. It would have been helpful if this were also provided in English, as in the program booklet. Providing the English translation would have enabled the entire audience to understand and appreciate the show much more while viewing an artistic production that demonstrated Chinese traditional rituals and etiquettes of spirits -- spirits and famous individuals, spirits and poetry, and spirits and philosophy in an artistic, poetic and dramatic manner.
The enthusiastic audience gave the performers a standing ovation.
The organizers of this event have pledged to donate all the proceeds to support the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society.