Monday, October 05, 2015

Thank you Short+Sweet Musical 2015


That was how Joe described the results before he began the prize giving ceremony for Short+Sweet Musical 2015. Yes, it was that close and our group was fortunate to win 4 awards last night, of which 3 were won by 1 vote.

a cast member asked why I had that look when I went up to collect my prize. It's a rather surreal moment to hear my name announced as the winner of the best director because it's only my 2nd time directing a S+S musical, and I was working with mainly young and inexperienced actors. Also, it was also the first time I win something without wifey.

Anyhow, here are a few people I would like to thank:

God for the people who have guided & helped me for the last 6 years. Thank you for the cast and creative team who have worked very hard to make the musical work.

Alex Chua & Nicole-Ann Thomas for your training. Appreciate the time you have invested in teaching me. I do hope I will get to work with you again.

Wifey & Mei Wei for your valued feedback. It is always good to have a third eye and, in this case, I got 2 great third eyes.

Calvin Terence, Lydia & Kelvin, for your hard work behind the scene. Thank you for trusting me with your work.

Joe & Faridah for providing a playground for me to explore and try new things.

Phoebe & the stage crew, for your support and making S+S Musical a success. Best backstage team ever!

Boy, Amirul, MJ & other tech guys, for the lights, sound & music. Every night, I could sit back and know that I need not worry about anything technical matters at all.

Parents of my under-aged performers. Thank you for letting your daughters take part in this small musical. Thank you for driving them to rehearsals and supporting us during the performances. Your daughters are very talented and I believe you are very proud to see what they have accomplished over the last 2 months.

Grace for offering to be the makeup artist. You have made my job so much easier backstage. Thank you for coming everyday so early and help them get into their characters.

Finally, my wonderful cast. No matter how great a script, how nice a song, it is you who brought everything to life. You have all been amazing. Each one of you played a vital part in making UP ALL NIGHT what it is. I hope you have learnt that the success of a production depends on teamwork and your inputs are very important to the development of a character. I couldn't have asked for a better company.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Short+Sweet Malaysia 2015

Surprise, surprise.

The missus and I did not submit anything for Short+Sweet Musical this year, though I submitted a political parody. More on that later.

One of the reasons we didn't submit a musical was because we didn't really have a good idea on what to write about. We sort of have the skeletons but we got stuck there for a bit. After consulting Nick Choo for his feedback, we decided that we should probably not continue writing unless we have a firm idea on what to do. In the meantime, I also had an idea on writing a song for Short+Sweet Song instead.

After watching last year's Short+Sweet Song and seeing how UiHua trolled the category with his Harry Doldrum persona, I began to think about how I could do something different to make it more fun and less about the competition.

Harry Doldrum in S+S Song 2014

Somehow the thought of a hungry ghost complaining about not being served his favourite food came to mind. I have heard a sermon from Pastor Oh Beng Kee many years ago and there was a point where he mentioned ancestral worship, and how we usually serve the food we liked to eat instead of our deceased ancestors' favourites.

Pastor Oh

So I pitched the idea to the missus and asked if she would be interested to take part. I also mentioned the idea to Freddy Tan and if everyone was okay, we could have a trio. Unfortunately Freddy couldn't commit and in the end it was just the two of us. I also spoke with Jee, a friend whom we got to know through S+S Musical 2014, to be our musician.

In May,I submitted my proposal to S+S organizing committee with just the title "Hungry" and a short description:

"A song dedicated to those who have passed on and yet are held dear in our hearts.  It is a duet lamenting the offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival. Song genre is Oriental Pop, presentation with harmony and counter-points." We submitted our registration forms indicating that we would be performed as "Hu Ah Yew" and "Soo Fah Nee", since the fun is in singing in character instead of performing as ourselves.

After checking with UiHua what he submitted last year, I wrote a draft to the organizers, just to give them an idea of what we would be covering. It was decided that the missus would compose the song once our submission was accepted.

Early July, the organizers released the list of participants, and we started working again. After a few changes to the melody and lyrics, we finally gave it to Jee with the instruction that the music needed to sound chinese, with guzhen, erhu, etc. Jee was busy with his own gig and hence he would only record the music for us.

We only received the music 2 weeks before performance and practised as much as we could without music before that. In the end, this was what we did.

We managed to spook a lot of people. Even our fellow participants were scared of us when they first saw us on full dress rehearsal night. It goes without saying that we were the forerunners for the Glitz & Glamour award so no surprise when they announced the winners. However, we also took home the 1st runner up award, a first for a performance with minus one music. Before this,  all winners had live music. 

It was a fun experience and I find it easier to make new friends because unlike musical or theatre, there are less people in the dressing rooms. We are happy to win and we really appreciate the help from our arranger Jee who was amazing with the music. Many thanks to the people at klpac for giving us the platform to experiment with this song and providing the tech and stage support.

I am taking a breather this week but still in the midst of preparing my team for the musical category next week. I am directing a few teenagers from my church. I hope they will have an equally good experience next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Didn't realize I have not updated anything since Oct 2014.

With Facebook, everything can updated immediately without the hassle of  typing out everything. But with Facebook, sometimes I feel the need to self censor. So today I shall put something here that I will not put on my Facebook.

I have started writing again for Short+Sweet Festival and again it will be a collaboration with the missus.

Initially we wanted to split and pursue our own project but I think we're not that motivated to do anything unless the other person applying some pressure. Anyhow, this year we're attempting something different....

No outrageous comedy.

What will it be? Wait for more updates when we have the story fleshed out :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Performances from S+S Musical 2014

OK, for those who missed the show, here are the recordings of our performances at Short+Sweet Musical 2014. Enjoy!
Note: This was our 4th performance and I had to step in because my lead Boon Kit was admitted into the hospital for appendicitis 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Notes on Short+Sweet Musical 2014

 This years marks the 2nd time wifey &  I took part in Short+Sweet Musical as a team. Last year we decided to explore other areas of interest instead of collaborating. This year, instead of just writing together, I also pulled her in to help me direct a musical too.
I was given 5 scripts to choose and I am glad that I got my first choice "A WOMAN AT WAR" by Mark Sasse. As a first time director my immediate challenge was to get my cast. After finally sorted out the leads, I faced a bigger challenge of assembling a band to play the music. While Mark & Laura Danneker(co-composer) had provided me with a minus one, I didn't think the recorded music would fit into my vision for the musical. I am also a firm believer in live music for musicals. Thankfully, 2 weeks into my rehearsal with the actors I managed to get a pianist from church and slowly my band was formed - 2 teenagers from my current church and 2 guys from my Penang church. I also decided to cast an ensemble of 6 people to support the leads.

The idea of writing a sperm musical, believe it or not, came during Short+Sweet Musical 2013, in the green room. I wanted to see how many performers we can put on stage so I'd figured with a sperm musical, the possibilities would be endless. So I presented the idea to wifey and together we slowly developed the story. While we wanted to stretch the story as much as we could, we also wanted the story to be as scientifically accurate as possible. So after much research and discussion, we decided to settled for the contraceptives as antagonists.
We also approached our friends Ross & Shen to be the director and musical director respectively.
So we were slotted into S+S Musical Week 1 and thankfully, both musicals made it to Gala Night which just ended a few hours ago.
How did we fare?


Karynn & I won the Festival Director's Award while 300 Million: The Reconceptualization of a Conception won the Audience Choice & Best Overall Production Awards. As much as I am proud to win, I am even prouder of the team who performed on stage, both the cast of A Woman At War & 300 Million. I did not participate with the hope to win - I just want to showcase my work and explore what I can do in the arts.
Words cannot describe the joy I had when I first watch both musicals come to life during the full dress rehearsal last week. I was so satisfied with the work the teams have put in and I can still remember the pride I had after the rehearsal ended. For A Woman At War, the pride to see how the actors have grown over the last 2 months was enough for me. For 300 million, it was the pleasant surprise of how the puns and lines were delivered with great comedic timing.
As we leave S+S Musical with wonderful memories, here are a few people I want to thank:
1. First & foremost, God for sending me people along my path to help me learn and grow.
2. Wifey for always bringing the best out of me. Somehow whenever we collaborate, we've always managed to come up with some crazy fun stuff. Let's make more babies on stage!
3. Alex Chua & Nicole-Ann Thomas for the guidance you have given me as a performer. I try to apply what I have learned from you and I hope I have made you proud. Thank you for your feedback Alex, and Nicole, hope to get yours soon.

4. BB for your lighting suggestion. Looks good:) *correction: IT LOOKED GREAT!! 
5. Nick Choo, for being Nick Choo. I am not sure if people actually realize how generous you are. Thank you for taking your time to meet us & to offer your advice on 300 million. You are, in my opinion, the Godfather of S+S Musical. Wifey has learnt much from you at the 2011 S+S Musical workshop and I have learnt much through her as well. I do hope you will continue to take part in future S+S Musical and allow us the privilege of enjoying your wonderful work. Nick Choo doesn't need S+S Musical; S+S Musical needs Nick Choo.
6. Mark Sasse & Laura Danneker for trusting us with your work. I know it can be a scary thought to surrender your work to a complete stranger. You are braver than us because we approached our friend to direct. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and it has been a pleasure directing A Woman At War.
7. Ross & Shen for the work you have put into 300 million. We love it the moment we saw it last week. You have made both wifey & me proud of our work.
8. Cast of A Woman At War & 300 Million. Every night you had me cheering for you and I couldn't be happier with your final performance.
9. Joe, Faridah, Soo, Lawrence, April, Boy, Ariff & other staff for your support and for giving us the platform to explore.
So what is next? 
I will be directing in S+S Theatre and I hope we'll do well. We have about 2 weeks to start blocking and get our act together. As for next year, wifey & I have decided that we will split again, before we reunite for Short+Sweet Musical 2016.
Because it's not about the competition. It's about the arts.

Monday, September 22, 2014

S+S Musical Tech Rehearsal

Just came back from our tech rehearsal in Pentas 2.  Had a few issues with sound and lights but nothing serious. At least the actors can be seen:)

mic check

Musicians pit

Johnny a little bit off centre

Walking to the centre

Totally love the corridor lights

The blue wash turns out nicely

Side lights help to lit up the ensemble's faces

The beautiful corridor lights again.

Well, not a perfect tech run but it's ok.  This is only the first time the actors are feeling the stage and the technical crew are running the cues with us. Tomorrow's full dress rehearsal should be good:)

Monday, September 15, 2014

1 week to Short+Sweet Musical

Last night I had my rehearsal and it was our best rehearsal yet. I am delighted that our ensemble who only started rehearsing with us on 2 Sept are coping very well. But I am even prouder of my 2 leads Boon Kit & Vivian for the hard work they have put into this.

The more we practice, the more I realised how emotional this musical is. I am thankful that wifey is around to support me in this and I couldn't have asked for a better partner to do this project with me. Together we have managed to assemble a very talented group of musicians who are contributing a lot to the musical arrangement. If I could, I would include their names as co-musical directors.

So are we ready for next week? Based on what I saw last night, I believe we are ready to put on a good show. I am not too concern about the singing as I believe in telling a truthful story. I want my actors to go through the emotions as they perform so that the audience will go on the journey with them. We still have 4 more rehearsals before full dress and we'll be doing full runs after full runs.

Below are the pictures I took last night. I must also thank my boss Louis for allowing me to use the gym studio for our rehearsals. It wouldn't be possible to rehearse at our home with the band and the actors together. And to rent a space for rehearsals is just too costly for us.

Besides this, 300 Million: The Reconceptualization of a Conception are also moving ahead with their rehearsals. We are on involved in the rehearsal process but I believe that we will have a pleasant surprise next week when we watch it for the first time at the full dress rehearsal.  

Anyone reading this, please come support us next week.

Please click on the links below for both musical's event page.