HE got the famous red chairs spinning in China, and now he’s coming to Southsea.
The winner of China’s version of The Voice Lei Zhang is heading an all-star cast who will take to the stage at the Kings Theatre.
Lei won the singing competition in 2015, and will perform alongside his fellow finalist Dage Zhao, ventriloquists, acrobats and nationally-renowned soprano Jing Tie on February 17.
Cultures of China: Festival of Spring is coming to the Kings following performances in Trafalgar Square and the London Palladium, with further dates in Belfast, Luxembourg and Milan.
In what theatre chief executive David Cooper describes as ‘a major coup for the city’, the Kings nabbed the final tour date in the UK from Manchester and Edinburgh because of Portsmouth’s strong links with the Chinese community.
Mr Cooper, 51, of Cosham, said: ‘It’s nice that there’s trust from Beijing that the Kings can host this show. We hope to be the host venue for this tour for years to come.’
Albert Choi, chairman of the Portsmouth Chinese Association, led the successful bid by contacting the Chinese embassy in London.
He has organised the city’s Chinese new year celebrations for 15 years and says this show will be the biggest yet.
‘The tour is funded by the Chinese government, and will be nationally promoted in China,’ said Mr Choi.
‘In reality, shows of this size don’t come to cities like Portsmouth. It’s very exciting.’
To accompany the tour, six members of China’s State Council will visit Portsmouth, including Tianxing Tan, the deputy director of the overseas Chinese affairs office.
Mr Choi, 57, will host a welcome banquet for the delegates and performers at his restaurant Noble House in Osborne Road, Southsea.
He will take them on a sight-seeing tour of Portsmouth, with planned trips to the D-Day and Mary Rose museums, and a reception held by the Lord Mayor Frank Jonas at the Guildhall.
Mr Choi said: ‘This is a great chance to promote the city. Hopefully the show will lead to stronger tourism and cultural links between Portsmouth and China.’
The tour comes in a year dubbed the ‘golden year of UK-Chinese cultural relations’ following President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK in October.