Thursday, November 07, 2013

I Hate Nick Choo

Yes, I hate Nick Choo.

I hate him for the brilliant composer/lyricist/music director he is.

I first met him in 2010, when I attended an audition for "Follow The Light". Though I didn't end up in the production, he had left a deep impression. The songs were beautifully written & very catchy.

Anyhow, that's not the reason for this entry.

I just came back from The Edge, the musical written & composed by Nick. As the story centres around Josh who was about to jump off a building, I went expecting a depressing musical. But I couldn't be more wrong. Nick has written an excellent musical that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up till the end(no pun intended). Though it was around 2hr 30 min, I didn't feel it as it was that captivating. Sure it was emotional but it was mixed with some light hearted moments. Nick, the producers(Dominic Luk & Benjamin Lin) & director (Sabrina Hassan) did a fantastic work with the material & cast. (update: forgot to mention that the set was wonderfully built too)

It was compelling story telling by the cast, each sharing their history with Josh and at the same time paint us the picture of Josh's life and his aspirations. They performed very well together and shone in their own way. If I have to pick my favourite, it would be Tria Aziz who was perfect as Josh's mom. Her singing was crisp & her emotions were so genuine, I can't help but hear and feel every word that came out of her.

It is not to be missed. It is showing now at pentas 2 klpac til Sunday 10 Nov. You will not regret watching this.

And yes, I will continue to hate Nick Choo for a long time.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Theatre, Musical & Ministry

Last Monday I just attended a meeting where the long term plan of the church's performing arts ministry was shared. Looks like one exciting year ahead!

If everything works out as planned, right after my performance in A Little Conviction, I will be jumping into it in January 2014, right before I start the rehearsals for klpac's Sinbad.

Looking back, everything sort of makes sense. If this was to happen 10 months ago, I think I won't have much confidence in contributing to this. So now, I eagerly wait for it to happen.

I remember in 2010, I had the idea of taking what I learned in performing arts and put it into church ministry. Somehow I didn't have the opportunity to do it then.  But now I believe my "kairos" moment has come.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Short+Sweet Musical 2013 aftermath

Last week was Short+Sweet Malaysia Musical and  just like 2011, there were 10 musicals competing. Besides submitting a script "Goodbye", I also acted in another musical "Out of The Box".

So how was it overall for me? It was a good experience to be participating again in S+S Musical. Participating as both writer and actor have allowed me to see things how 2 different productions come together. The best part, of course, is to working with old friends and making new ones.

As mentioned before (I think), I wasn't planning to write this year. I am more of the man with the idea but not a writer. I need time for my ideas to grow inside me before I start anything. And even then, I would still need a co-writer. Somehow approximately 1 month before the deadline, I suddenly had the idea of writing a dramatic musical. So I had to force myself to write this.

After taking about 1-2 weeks to write the first draft, I felt tired to compose and so I asked a church friend, Daniel Sim, if he would be interested to compose the songs. At the same time, wifey suggested another friend Kerry-Ann since she has mentioned before that she would like to direct a S+S musical. 

After reading the script, both of them agreed to be part of this and that was how we started. Kerry-Ann managed to assemble her team of people and we eventually have Joshua Gui as musical director, with Safia Hanifah & Nick Davis as our actors. Both Safia & Nick won Special Awards for their performances:)

As for the one I acted in, it was by the same creative group that did last year's "Disorder in the Court".

Terence decided to try drama this year as well. We have been talking on FB chat about what we wanted to do this year and he shared his idea with me. I thought it could be something that suited me. After the audition, I was offered the role of the father. I found out that Lynn Goh, who played Ah Girl in "The Geongxi Is A Vamp" was offered to play the daughter. Eventually a newcomer, Arvin, got on board as the supporting cast, playing the assistant named Chong(don't ask why a chinese name).

The biggest winner of the festival was Nick Choo's "Dreaming Outside The Box". The moment he confirmed his participation, most of us were expecting to see something wonderful. True to form, His team deservingly won 8 awards, breaking Geongxi's 7-award record. While it was a bit painful to see them break Geongxi's record, at least it was Nick Choo and Freddy Tan who also directed Geongxi.

And with that, all the anxieties comes to an end and I look forward to Short + Sweet 2014. What will I be doing then? Most likely, wifey & I will be joining S+S Song (if they are going to keep it) and most probably we will work together again to write a musical. We should be returning to comedy, which I think is our stronger genre than drama. I already have something brewing in my head and this could turn out to be a very educational musical. More on that when the time comes :)

Also, if I am free, I will be applying to direct a musical. After doing numerous plays & musicals, I think it's my turn to shout at actors. Hahahaha!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Forgotten post: Burger Kaw Kaw

Last month we decided to give Burger Kaw Kaw a try since we've heard quite a bit about it. So we went to the SS15 branch.

The place looked simple and there were people eating, but not as packed as you'd see in some other places.

very basic
We ordered what we wanted and was served in a short time. So it's a good place to go if you don't want to wait for your burgers.

Chicken burger
Beef burger
Can't remember the names of the burgers we ordered, but we thought the food was so-so. I was surprised that my chicken patty was deep fried.

How do you eat with triple patties??

So we were a bit disappointed with our food but we spotted a new burger joint just a few shops away from it.

Need to plan for a visit soon!

Friday, June 07, 2013

S+S Malaysia here I come again!

Short+Sweet Festiva Malaysial is about to start again in September and this month is where writers will be presumably rushing to finish their scripts to meet the deadline which is 1 July. Last year at this point, I think we have already finalized "The Geongxi is a Vamp" and hand delivered it to klpac.

This year, wifey most probably will be sitting out, unless she can finish the script/music she wrote last year.  I will be trying out a new collaboration this year with  people I have not worked with before. In fact, I am also trying a genre of musical I am not familiar with. For a change, my script is not a  comedy and it doesn't have any stereotype. I believe that to write a 10 min musical is harder than a theatre piece because short musicals do not have time to establish & develop the characters. Hence, over the last 2 years, I noticed that musicals that did well in S+S have stereotypes, eg. boy bands, chinese prostitute, vampires, lawyers, cannibals, etc. Also, they were all comedies.

I have already completed the second draft of the musical, even though I will be submitting the first draft. The musical will now depend on my new composer & director. They will have the difficult job of bringing the story to life.

So what is the musical about? The title is "Goodbye" and the clue is in the picture below.

I will also be auditioning as an actor for musical and probably director too. Only problem I have with directing is I have a November play and directing in Oct may be a problem for me.

Exciting time ahead again!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

After 2 months of not being Gorgeous

Last month, I started my new job as Group Exercise Manager at FitWorx in PJ after a very interesting stint with Gorgeous Fitness. So far I am very pleased to be back in the position I am most comfortable & effective. While it was a good learning experience to be a club manager but I don't think I will ever apply to be a club manager again. I am happiest when I can focus on GX and not worry about PT, membership sales, etc.

One thing I realised is that I had regressed as an instructor when I became a club manager. In Gorgeous Fitnses, while I was teaching an average of 4-5 classes a week, I did not have a permanent BODYCOMBAT class, my favourite programme. Now, I have 8 classes, 2 of which are BODYCOMBAT, 5 BODYPUMP classes, & 1 Basic Step class. By  July, I will be giving one of my BODYPUMP classes to another instructor and that would just nice. I do hope I don't have to teach RPM for a while, until my butts & legs get itchy again for it.

For now, I just want to focus on getting the GX classes more exciting, hopefully in the process I will also help to improve the standard of teaching in FitWorx & maybe groom some new instructors. First project is of course next week's Les Mills launch on 1 June Saturday to showcase the new BODYCOMBAT, BODYPUMP & RPM releases. To make it more enticing, decided to throw in a 90-min Zumba as well. To make it even better, I have invited a few instructors who normally don't teach in FitWorx to launch with me, so that members will get something different from just another GX class. If this works out well next week, I will consider this formula with guest instructors coming every quarter.

After the launch, I will be moving to make the cycling classes work. So far, the attendance for the classes has be rather disappointing. Knowing that the members are willing to work hard, I am surprised that the cycling classes are less than 50% filled most of the time. Sometimes even lower than 40%. Hopefully the promotion will work.

With work stuff coming in, I am somewhat not feeling the itch to get back on stage to perform. Still, once I am more settled into my work, let's try to get something to do. Starting with perhaps Short+Sweet Festival 2013:)

Dinner at Burger Junkyard

No, this is not a food review. Just wanted to blog something not totally unrelated to performing arts or gym.

Tonight we went to watch Parah at DPAC, and decided to go to Kota Damansara to try this place wifey found on the internet call Burger Junkyard. Earlier we have see some myBurgerLab pictuers on FB & decided to look for some other burger options & found it.

Since the reviews online mentioned that it was comparable with myBurgerLab and there were no queues, we gave it a shot.

The entrance
The restaurant is at The Strand Kota Damansara, near Enfiniti Academy. There were people eating but no queue.

You make your order at the counter
We made our order and waited about 10 minutes for them to prepare the food for us

Your order number is attached to a rat
The place was clean and simple & since it is the junkyard, the graffiti on the wall makes perfect sense. If I am not mistaken, the founders are working behind the counter too- I read some reviews while waiting for the food & some blogs featured the founders' pictures.

Graffiti in the restaurant
Their meat portions come in half size(90g) & full size(180g) but we both took the half size burgers. I had the Buffalo Soldier which is a "Char-grilled chicken thigh topped with celery sticks, a slice of tomato and flavoured sour cream. Comes with steamed cheddar and buffalo hot sauce" while wifey took Beef in Blanket, "an All Australian Beef Patty Wrapped in Premium Beef Bacon, Steamed Pressed Cheddar, Raw Onions, Tomatoes & Rich BBQ Sauce." Note that they used STEAMED cheese. Really good burgers. 

Buffolo Soldier
Beef in Blanket

Burgers were good and if you stay near Kota Damansara & does not wish to line up for great burgers, do give this a try. They open for lunch (12pm-3pm) & dinner(6pm-10pm) from Mondays to Saturdays. They close on Sundays.

Burger Junkyard
No. 16-G, Jalan PJU 5/20D, 
The Strand 
Kota Damansara 
47810 Petaling Jaya
03-6143 4305

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sydney Trip: Shows!

Forgot to blog about this:)

Last month, of course, was our 4th year anniversary and we went to Sydney where I lived for 2 1/2 years. So what did 2 performing artists do in Sydney? 

Show #1
Wednesday afternoon we watched the matinee show "Driving Miss Daisy" at Theatre Royal. It's the play not to be missed because it featured Angela Lansbury & James Earl Jones. Imagine seeing Mrs Potts & Darth Vader in person!

Should've known. Watching 2 seasoned performers in the afternoon means that we'll be watching it with retirees.Suddenly I feel so young.

Feels like I'm in a show for geriatric ward

The theatre was a small one and we were seated quite close to the stage.

Simple set with minimal movement

Don't think there's more than 10 people aged below 40
The play was very well done. Delivery of the 3 actors were top class. But what really delighted me was how fantastic the two main stars were. Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones are both in their 80s but their performance didn't show it at all.

Here's a link to the review of the show.

Show #2
The same day evening we went to Capitol Theatre for The Addams Family. We were very fortunate to get really cheap tix because it was their final preview week. The theatre lobby was decorated to fit the theme of the show, with famous musical songs in minor played over the PA. Love the song arrangement!

A bit far but still can see everything

It was a fun-filled musical for the family with loads of funny moments. Songs were nice and quite memorable but there's one song I thought was not necessary.  "The Moon & Me" by Fester sounded cute but doesn't progress the story. I like the opening song"When You're An Addam"- it was really a good number to set the mood of the show. I also like the overture, which is now my phone ringtone.

Show #3
Friday night it was time for War Horse at Sydney Lyric. A play about a horse named Joey. Joey is played by a puppet, controlled by 3 people. Sounds weird but the puppeteers were so good that I hardly notice them at all.

Wifey saw the play in May 2012 in New York & loved it. So she is basically accompanying me to see the show. Still, she said, it was very moving for her. Even though the performers spoke with Irish accent, every word was clear & crisp. Visually a very good show with the puppet horses & lightings.

Entrance to the theatre

Me with the star of the play:)

The view of the city from Sydney Lyric

We could've gone for show #4 which is the final of  Short+Sweet Sydney on Saturday, but decided not to because tix prices for shows in Australia is rather expensive, and we  need to take a breather from watching shows also:)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Last day in Sydney: final note

I'm flying back to KL in 7 hours. I will have to wake up in about 4 hours, and here I am, wide awake.

I blame the weather. We arrive Tuesday morning and it was nice & cozy. However, last few days it's been a wee bit too warm for my liking.

Sydney has stayed pretty much the same since 1999, albeit some minor changes. I managed to to catch up with a few friends, two of whom got married in 2003 and are now blessed with 2 beautiful girls.

I also managed to go around Sydney as a tourist since I first came here in 1996. Wifey was right to point out that I hardly travelled around Sydney- guess I'm not that adventurous. I just like to stick around my uni, have my north indian butter chicken, pizza & ice cream, and occasionally visit Chinatown for Penang Sar Hor Fun.  Incidentally, the pizza joint in Newtown I used to patron for pizzas & chocolate ice cream and the Malaysian Chinese restaurant in Chinatown are no longer there. Even Sydney Christian Life Centre, my home church in Sydney, is now a part of Hillsongs Church.

I still love the busses & trains, and how friendly most Aussies are to tourists. If only we can have a bit of sensible infrastructure planning & courtesy.

Sydney is still my favourite place to migrate to, if given the opportunity. Funny thing is, I would have stayed back after my graduation if not for my rebound GF then. Imagine what kind of life it would have been; I reckon there would be no GX or performing arts for me here. Defintely I would not have met Wifey.

Still not sure what the point of this entry is. Perhaps I just want to put my thoughts down in words before I get lazy to write. 

I've had my fair bit of good & bad memories during my 2 1/2 year stay in Sydney. I'm glad that this time I'm bringing back just good memories shared with wifey.

Maybe I'll come back again one day:)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kana-Psy, Shit happens

And so yesterday I went to Han Chiang to attend the hotly discussed BN CNY open house. Originally I had planned to the bus, but since I was having breakfast with wifey, she dropped me off at the state mosque at 930am.

Traffic was already quite bad by then

Some Ani-Lynas Penangites, I presumed

Some stalls selling PSY, BN merchandise were set up along the small lane to Han Chiang

I'm quite sure they are not official merchandise
When I reached the entrance of Han Chiang, I was surprised to see that the place was so crowded. The last time I saw such a huge crowd was back in April 2012's Bersih 3.0 in KL.

I was waiting for Willie, Terry & Wann King to join me, so I stood and waited at the school building, away from the heat and the huge stage which was set up at the end of the field. On stage, there were some drums and dance performances but the crowd around me were not paying attention the to TV screens set up around the place.

A die-hard BN supporter waiting the shit to start

The guys reached Han Chiang around 10.15am and we tried to move closer to the stage so that we can see Psy closer. In between some singers from some Astro competitions were performing but we didn't really pay much attention. Nothing impressive - some were a bit pitchy here and there.

The MCs were not that great as well. The female MC who spoke in Bahasa Melayu was super annoying. It sounded as if she was shouting into the microphone all the time and she kept shouting "Satu!!!" for the crowd to respond with "Malaysia" and "We Love!" for "BN!". She was more successful with "Satu Malaysia" then "I Love BN" but either response was really nothing to shout(no pun instead) about, considering there were thousands of people there.

Things got more exciting when Shila Amzah's turn came to entertain the crowd. She sang 4 song; 1st song was the famous "Zheng Fu", 2nd was Adele's "Fire to the Rain", 3rd was a Malay song and she ended with another mandarin number. She was really good.

Willie, Wann King & Terry, adhering to the CM's advice on dress code
Food wise, I was expecting a buffet style lunch, but I was sort of disappointed to find that people were lining up for food on a paper plate or put in a paper box. Looking around the stations, I think the main dishes were fried rice, fried mee & fried bee hoon.

Crowd watching the side shows from afar

I got a bee hoon box

I woke up early for this shit

One of the stations serving boxed food

the child in the pic is holding the paper box for food

The BN leaders came around 11 plus with the PM and his wife in front of course. Couldn't really see them walking to their VVIP table but the MCs mentioned that former PM Tun Abdullah and some component parties leaders were there with the PM. Throughout the walk-in, the annoying MC was still shouting "Satu Malaysia" "We Love BN!" until they sat down. She asked us to welcome the leaders but the claps from the crowd, at best, was just half hearted, The claps went up a little bit when the MC incorrectly mentioned that the CM & his wife were in the group.(Turns out, the CM couldn't make it because he had to go to the airport to receive the real First Lady of Malaysia.)

Before the real Psy came on stage, some sais had to make some speeches. First it was the Pg State BN head Teng Chang Yeow, who came up and mentioned something about how BN will continue to bring the best to Penang, and will give the best to Penang, etc. Not buying the crap.

Then the PM came up with his son and made one of the funniest moments at the open house. His son said something in Mandarin which doesn't have anything to do with CNY. He then wished us happy CNY and passed the rostrum to his father. Najib reiterated Teng's claim that BN will bring the best to Penang. He promised that he would solve Penang's 2 main issues: housing & transportation. I could hear some murmuring among the crowd around me when he mentioned "monorail". Willie mentioned, "Why now? Monorail was promised before the 12th election and nothing happened after that"

The PM also said that he was considering Han Chiang's application to become a university college. Unfortunately, he got Han Chiang's name wrong and numerous time referred to it as "Han Yang". Then Teng, who was still on stage behind him, walked to his side and whispered the right name into his ear. Embarrassing that you don't even know the name of the venue host.

Towards the end of his speech, he said that he was sure everyone was excited about what is about to happen next. So he made the BIG mistake of asking the now-famous questions. I shall not elaborate. Please see  the video below:

I couldn't believe that he asked it thrice, and the response of "NO!" got louder each time. The people beside me were quick to response to his questions.  After his speech was over, the MC announced that before Psy was to perform, the PMs wife was going to sing us CNY songs. Again the crowd went "NO!!!!!"

Unfortunately, we had to bear with bad singing:

After 2 songs, I thought it was time for Psy but instead it was the lou sang session which turned out into the most confusing moment for the people and embarrassing moment for BN. The annoying MC announced that Psy would be tossing with the BN leaders and of course the crowd went nuts(in a good way). After numerous annoucement, Psy didn't appear and the BN leaders toss the food themselves and the crowd went nuts(in a bad way). Then the leaders waited on stage for a while, hoping for Psy to come out I suppose. Eventually, sheepishly one by one left the stage when it was obvious he wasn't coming out.

Not sure what happened, but there are 2 possibilities:

A) Psy was not told of the lou sang and was not ready to join the leaders.

B) Psy wanted to stay apolitical and not to be seen with the political leaders.

After waiting for another 5-10 minutes, finally Psy appeared with his dancers and did his famous song. Of course everyone cheered and the noise level was definitely higher than the cheers for any of the performers or politicians. After one song, he left the stage and the crowd was asking for more. After numerous "Encore" cheers, he came back and repeated "Oppa Gangnam Style" to everyone's delight.

Once Psy finished his performance, almost 90% of the crowd headed for the exit, even though there were still some other performances.

Just one small exit for 50k ppl

suddenly so many empty seats.

Overall, I think in terms of numbers, BN successfully got the number they wanted. People from all walks of life came for the open house. However, I seriously doubt that they would be pleased with the reaction after Psy's performance. The MCs didn't say that the event was over but people just left like that. And with the videos of people saying "NO" to Najib's questions, BN would need re-examine their chances to win back Penang.