The duo behind the virtual rock band Gorillaz is busting into three dimensions for a change, and in a very big way. Monkey: Journey to the West, a stage-musical adaptation of a 16th-century Chinese folk tale, features an East-meets-West score by Blur singer Damon Albarn and colorful design work and animation by his Gorillaz collaborator, artist Jamie Hewlett. The production – conceived and directed by renowned opera director Chen Shi-Zheng with elements of traditional Chinese martial arts, acrobatics, and dance – will have its New York premiere this summer, opening the Lincoln Center Festival and playing 27 performances from July 6-28. (Since premiering in Manchester, England, in 2007, the show has made its own epic journey around the West.)
It turns out that Hewlett and Albarn have a long association with the story of a Monkey King who leads a Buddhist monk through an enchanted kingdom. “I grew up on the Japanese television version of Monkey: Journey to the West as a schoolboy,” Hewlett explains. Adds Albarn: “It’s one of those things that you talked about in school the next day.”
In this exclusive video clip (after the jump), the duo discuss their efforts to bring the fable to life on stage.