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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Short+Sweet Malaysia Festival 2014

My fourth year in the Short+Sweet Malaysia Festival. Does that make me a S+S veteran?

Like 2012, this year I will not be acting in S+S. I think it's about time I try something else, so I am directing for a change. I will be directing a musical "A Woman At War" by Mark Sasse & Laura Danneker and a play "The Surgeon's Creed" by Eoin Carney. This year also marks the first time S+S Musical will be running for 2 weeks with a Gala Night of it’s own. So now there's added bonus to do well.

For The Surgeon's Creed, I am pleased to have Tan Boon Kit & Tan Meng Kheng as my actors. Both of them have gone through some bit of work with Alex Chua and I believe we can understand where I would like to go with this play. It's a good opportunity for me to explore and try some of the stuff Alex Chua had been teaching us all this while. I am confident we can do well.

Click here for the event page

My concern is for A Woman At War, featuring Boon Kit also and Vivian Chan. Man, staging a musical can be so quite complicated, even though it's only 10 minutes. Mark & Laura have provided me with a minus one, but I prefer live music because it simply works better.  As my music director Mervyn L Peters would agree, using live music allows me more creative space to work with the actors. Thus one of the biggest headaches for me was to get my band together. Thankfully, I have wifey to share the headache as I asked her to be my musical director.

I only had a guitarist to begin with and after listening to the music provided, A Woman At War is not going to sound with just one guitar. For the first 2-3 weeks of rehearsal, I had to teach my actors the songs with me playing the keyboard badly. Fortunately, we managed to find a few musicians from church, both SIBKL & Penang church PCC. Last Monday was the first time we got all the band members together.

(L-R) Sean, Wilfred, Daniel & Yuen Thern

We have not quite figured out all the songs yet, but I am sure we should confirm everything by the end of the week. I will back in Penang for the weekend but I leave the music from Act 3(the last act) in wifey's trusted hands. We have more or less confirmed the blocking for the actors and with another 8-9 rehearsals, I think we should be ready by 24 Sept for the opening performance.

Wifey & I also submitted a musical this year as a team. After splitting to pursue our own interest last year(Me with "Goodbye" and she with "What If?") I suppose you can say we're back writing what we're most comfortable with - outrageous comedy. We have learned a lot from our first musical "The Geongxi Is a Vamp" and I believe we have shown improvement with this musical. "300 Million: The Reconceptualization of a Conception" is - what our director Ross Stephenson said - a musical about what happens after sex. I am delighted to have the amazing Shen as the musical director to assist Ross in his directorial debut. On top of that, they have assembled a good cast. It should be fun to watch this one.

Both "A Woman At War" & 300 Million: The Reconceptualization of a Conception" are featured in Week 1 of the S+S Musical, from 24 Sept to 27 Sept. There are 4 other musicals in Week 1. Come show some love if you are free that week. 

I do hope both musicals make it to the Gala Night on Sunday 5 Oct.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Time Flies

Has it been that long? My last update was in November 2013!

So what has been happening since then?

Well, I did a play with EMP and now I am performing in Sinbad at klpac. We will end our run on 27 April and move to Penang where king.  will be performing from 2 - 11 May.

Check out my new look:)

So how has it been? OK, I suppose. It's been great making new friends- that was my main reason for joining this musical. The main issue I have actually is the plantar fasciitis on my left foot. It's not been easy walking & rehearsing barefooted. I am, however, looking forward to my performances in Penang- Will be home for almost 2 weeks! Yay!

If you have not seen the show, do check it out! Tickets are available at klpac box office or online at Ticketpro.