A celebrity who used a recording at a live musical performance in eastern China over the weekend has apologised after a public backlash, again raising the issue of professionalism in the entertainment business.
Actress and singer Han Xue was starring as the lead female character in the musical Into the White Night, based on the mystery novel Byakuyako by Japanese author Keigo Higashino.
But on Saturday, before a performance in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, Han appeared on stage, telling the audience she had an acute inflammation of the vocal cords and could not sing. Instead, she explained, the theatre company had decided she would still appear in the musical using a recording of her singing from a previous performance.
Afterwards, Han thanked the audience in a Weibo post, saying it was "the most special performance of Into the White Night".
But her post drew criticism online, with comments that miming at a live performance was unacceptable and unforgivable " even if the audience was warned.
On culture and film forum Douban, Han's performance was criticised as unprofessional.
"It would be the same as me showing up to work and using Google Translate to help my clients communicate," one person wrote.
Others said the way the theatre group handled the situation also showed a lack of professionalism, as there should have been an understudy for the live performance who could step in at short notice. Some speculated that Han may have been kept in the show because of her fame, to sell more tickets.
Han apologised on Weibo on Tuesday, saying she had developed a cold and was worried about her father, who had a heart attack on the day of the performance. She said she had also apologised on stage on Saturday, and had told audience members who were unhappy with the arrangement that they could get refunds for their tickets.
"I have realised it was very wrong to handle the performance that way and I apologise again," she wrote. "I also promise that in the future, whenever I'm there, the performance will be there and the singing will be there."
The theatre company also said on Sunday that it would provide refunds for tickets to Saturday's show for any dissatisfied audience members.
There was a similar public backlash after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when director Zhang Yimou arranged for then nine-year-old Lin Miaoke to lip-synch Ode to the Motherland to a recording by even younger Yang Peiyi, because Lin was prettier and regarded as more likely to impress foreign viewers.
After the scandal was revealed, angry members of the public demanded an apology and for children to be left out of adults' politics.
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