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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New show to take audiences through history of Angkor Wat's 'discovery'

New show to take audiences through history of Angkor Wat's 'discovery'

Extravaganza to follow French explorer A.H. Mouhot on dreamlike journey through Khmer legends

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Organisers are ready to top last year’s lavish Angkor Wat multimedia spectacular with a new production at the end of this year.

IT'S been described as a cross between

television historical-romance razzmatazz, mysticism and a traditional

music-and-dance stage spectacular, and the promoters call it a "sensory

odyssey through magnificent multimedia performances".

But whatever you call it, it was, in showbiz parlance, a smash hit when it debuted last year at Angkor Wat.

A new version of the show will run again during the coming peak tourism

season. The lavish outdoor performance is called The Legend of Angkor

Wat and subtitled "When History Comes to Life". It will run for six

weeks, from December 5, 2008, to January 31, 2009, at an

under-the-stars venue set up inside Angkor Wat itself. Performances

will be held nightly except Sundays, Christmas Eve (December 24) and

New Year's Eve (December 31).

While tickets are not cheap - $60 for standard and $80 for premium

seats - sales through international agencies have already been brisk.

In August more than 3,000 tickets were sold in Japan alone.

The outdoor venue has 100 VIP seats, 400 premium seats and 400

standards seats, and, if the season is sold out, the collective

audience will total almost 50,000.

The show is organised by Siem Reap's Bayon CM Organizer Co Ltd, a joint venture with Bayon TV

General manager Ladda Patthanun Chaiprasert said the venture is put

together with the cooperation of the Ministry of Tourism and the

Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

All historic and cultural details of the show, the script and

choreography were developed and supervised by Proeung Chhieng, vice

rector and dean of the Faculty of Choreographic Arts, at Phnom Penh's

Royal University of Fine Arts. A crew of over 120 helps stage the show

which has a cast of 160.

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Bayon CM Organizer general manager Ladda Patthanun Chaiprasert gets ready to put on a show.

The show has a storyline that criss-crosses in time, centering on

the adventures of 19th-century French philologist and explorer

Alexandre Henri Mouhot who is mistakenly credited for "discovering" the

Angkor complex. While other foreigners had been aware of its existence,

Mouhot's visit and his evocative writings popularised the temples in

the West, and the rest is, as they say, history.

The Legends show plays with that history, beginning with Mouhot's

arrival at Angkor in 1860. He lapses into unconsciousness and, in his

dream state, a beautiful Apsara woman guides him back in time to the

legendary beginning of Khmer civilisation, with the marriage of the

daughter of the king of the nagas.

Subsequent scenes take Mouhot through the King Suryavarman II era, and

then it gets even more weird: an exploration of the creation of

Apsaras.

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