There probably couldn’t be a better kickoff to UCLA’s Fifth International Theater Festival than the 400-year-old Chinese Opera classic The Peony Pavilion. It’s the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet, but in proportions so epic it’s being presented over three nights, in three Books. The production, written and produced by Kenneth Pai and performed by the Suzhou Kun Opera Theater of Jiangsu Province, where Chinese opera originated, has been lauded for its authenticity. Basically the great-great-granddaddy of that wild child, Peking Opera, kun combines music, dance, drama and literature in a dazzling stage show that demands astounding acrobatics, mastery of precise theatrical convention, voices that must scale surreal musical heights, and command of a variety of ancient instruments. Spectacular to say the least. Royce Hall, UCLA, Wstwd.; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 29-30, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 1, 7 p.m.; $175 & $126 three-part series, $65-$30 individual parts. (310) 825-2101 or www.UCLALive.org.

—Mary Beth Crain

LA Weekly