Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: Paper Crane

Tonight I just came back from Paper Crane尾聲, klpac's big musical production for this year. Besides being a fan of musicals, I was also there to support some friends who are in the show, especially my sister Hilda who was making her professional debut as part of the ensemble.(Yes, we are a musical family- next year my two kitties will be performing in the local production of "Cats")

Tonight we had a full house. I was told last night was also a full house. Interesting to note that my last time in pentas 1 as an audience was in 2008, watching "Broadways Parodies Lagi-lah" on my birthday. Saw a lot of familiar faces tonight; there were of course the usual klpac people like Joe, Faridah, etc, and the Dama Orchestra gang were here also. However, we also met some of my sister's old school mates whom, at one point of another, carried me in their arms when I was a baby. Anyhow, back to the play....

I like the set design which is the backstage of an chinese opera stage("Paper Crane尾聲 " is a musical about a chinese opera troupe and not chinese opera, by the way).It tells the story of the rise and fall of an opera star, Ah Kit, brilliantly played by Roax Tan. He started as a backstage worker in this troupe owned by Lou Pan, played by Patrick Teoh. The star of the troupe was Fui Koh who disliked him right from the start. Ah Kit befriended Siu Ngau, another performer, and fell in love with Lou Pan's daughter, Fei Mui. By a strange twist of fate, Ah Kit finally got the chance to shine as an opera star, achieving his dream with the troupe. However, Ah Kit had also become arrogant along the way. What happened next? Will he end up with Fei Mui? Will Fui Koh stage his revenge? I shall leave it at that for you to discover when you go see the show.

What did I think of the show? Let's start with the performers.

Acting wise, as mentioned earlier, I thought Roax was really good as Ah Kit. He was able to capture the innocence at the beginning of the play, and I could see him slowing morphing from a nobody to an opera star in the story. As for his singing, for someone who is not a musical actor, I thought he did a commendable job.
Female lead Lee Elaine was just alright, but this is her first performance. However, she is a fantastic singer. I just wish there were more opportunities for Fei Mui to sing in this musical.

As for the rest of the principals, Amelia Tan was very convincing as Ah Kit's mother, while Kimmy and Patrick's part were not so prominent compared to the rest.  It was obvious they were not that comfortable singing. Amelia's duet with Roax showed her weakness while Patrick only have a couple of singing lines. I don't think Kimmy has any singing line at all. Soon Yoon(Siew Ngau) & Colin Kirton(Fui Koh) were the only principal performers who can both sing & act well, and they aptly delivered in both departments.

Ensemble were good and it was heartening to see new faces, people I don't know, performing. I was told there were a couple of first timers in the production. I do hope that they will continue to perform after this. Singing wise I thought their diction was better in Act 2. I couldn't hear what they were singing a few times in the first act.

Costume was simple for the ensemble, while the principals had their own different costumes. One particular costume I find weird was Fui Koh's- I thought he was wearing a cassock. 

At first I felt weird watching the play which is in both English & Cantonese. It took me a while to get used to it. I thought Act 1 had better pacing, with better story development while Act 2 seemed rushed at times. I had to refer to the scene-by-scene synopsis provided (and asked some people who were involved in the production) to understand some of the things that were happening in Act 2. The most emotional part for me was when Lou Pan was leaving. I had trouble connecting with Ah Kit's emotional state of mind at the end as he had changed so much from the cheerful likeable person he was in the beginning.

Cikgu Lex's choreography was good to watch, especially in the Soup Song- great idea! Lighting & set design were also very good and the dramatic ending, which I shall not describe, was very well done- kudos to lighting designer Amelia Tan(yup, the lady who played Ah Kit's mother), set designers Omar Ali & Yusman Mokhtar. Sound could have been better as there were a couple of times the mics of the performers were not on. Also, there were a few humming sound coming from the speakers.

Overall, it is an entertaining musical. There were some nice & funny moments and with songs to entertain you for about 2 hours(including a 15-min intermission).

Show is on now till 19 August in klpac. After that, they will be heading north to penangpac from 25 August till 2 September. Please go to for more information.

With Lee Elaine, "Fei Mui"

With my sister Hilda
Sorry Roax, can't help it!

1 comment:

Hilda Looi said...

Thank you, my dear for a fair review. I would have written the same if I had been an audience last night. However, would add that the fire scene was well orchastrated too :-)
PC has taken musicals to a different level. Being in a multi- racial country, I hope to see more bi-lingual musicals. Maybe one in Bahasa/Tamil?