Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Blah Blah, They're Pinky and the Brain!

Yo boys and girls! It's been a while, sorry bout that... but it's been back to routine, focusing on work, developing my ten-minute musical, auditioning new people for FTL (long story!), and basically trying not to fall apart from having to do too many things all at the same time. Apart from this, there's not much else going on (because, honestly, who's got time for more stuff to be going on?). Can't believe it's only been about a week or so since the CT crew left for Perth - it definitely feels much longer. And yet, time's a ticking... the deadline for the ten-minute musical was supposed to be today, but fortunately they've extended it by five days, so I have a bit more breathing space to get it finished. Damn me and my complicated rhythms! Oy!!

The other day I received word that Off The Edge, the mag I worked for for the first two years since coming back from Perth, has officially been shut down. A bit of a shame, really. As much as it became a bumpy ride towards the end there, it was a good mag, and it's been going on for about five years now, and it's quite unfair for it to have ended so unceremoniously due to changes in management (purportedly). I sent a text to the former editor (who has since stepped down) conveying my sympathies. And I think it's water under bridge with regards to this uncertain tension between us since my leaving. Ah well. We all have to move on.

Work-wise, am proofreading and editing a book that my current company TNG is going to publish shortly, so that's rather tedious, heh!! And after work I'm going to grab some dinner with Terry before resuming on the music scores for Little Girl Lost, my musical entry into Short+Sweet 2010. Yup, that's the title - you heard it here first, folks! (Except for those of you who I'd already told much earlier. In which case, you didn't hear it here first, folks!) :P

Well, that's really about it for now. I'm going to leave you with this little video clip that my friend Dave shared via Facebook, which I find really clever in terms of writing, and also stellar in terms of tongue-twisting performance by the voice actors. It's Pinky and the Brain, which I've blogged about before, so it sure brings back some good memories of sitting at home in front of the telly waiting for cartoons, heheheh. Without further ado-do, here we go. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Children's Theatre Malaysian Tour: The Final Days

Hello, ladies and germs! It's a rather cloudy Tuesday afternoon, and I'm sitting at home, having been graciously given the day off to relax and recuperate by my lovely boss Jac. But I'm not really relaxing or recuperating, because I've been catching up with some household chores, gone shopping, updated the collection of pics and vids, and I'm planning on working on the ten-minute musical soon, so... yeah. Heheh. No rest for the wicked, eh?

Anyway, let's recap: Sunday, the day of the two shows at the Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur. Got to the venue in the morning in time to set up, get ready and perform, and all in all, I think the morning show went really well. The turnout was just fine but sadly not fantastic, although that's to be expected given the rather limited publicity these performances have had.

Between shows, a bunch of us went over for coffees at the Oldtown White Coffee place nearby, which was pretty fun. Then we just hung around the venue until the second show in the evening. That, too, went well, and it was attended by one of my dear friends Shanthini, who runs a theatre academy in KL, so it was cool to be able to introduce her to Jenny in the hopes of future working relationships. Awesome. Here are some pics. In case nobody has figured it out yet, you can view bigger-sized versions if you click on them, heheh!

Claire passes out between shows | Jason strums his new toy

Performance and post-performance

Incidentally, you can view these photos and more by checking out the Children's Theatre photo album on Facebook!

After the show, we did the bump-out and I headed back home to prepare for the Malaysian-tour cast party, bwaa-haaaa!! Yup, we had a little get-together at my apartment (some 25 minutes' drive away from where everyone was staying, which made it a little logistically tedious, but those who were intent on partying actually managed to get here, which is awesome!). Actually, it wasn't so much my apartment as it was the poolside downstairs, which I managed to book for the evening! Yeaaaah, pool paaaarty!!! The gang showed up, some of them ready with bathers, and we managed to splash about for a bit before the condo authorities turned the lights off at 10pm. Stupid residential rules, arf arf. At some point my housemate Chan Ghee decided to join us by the poolside - much to his dismay, I imagine! ;))

I think it was about midnight when the guards finally told us to vacate the area (I'm not exactly sure because Joel "Evil Mandarin" Sammels brought along a bottle of rather delectable Thai whiskey, and ooops, I think I might've gone overboard with it just a little, so the rest of the night is, as usual, one major cloud of fuzziness). We adjourned back to my apartment, and the party continued for a little while longer as the major cloud of fuzziness grew greater and murkier. Of the bits and pieces of my memory I remember people eventually leaving, and poor Chan Ghee (bless him!) having to escort them downstairs to help them get cabs back to the hostel in KL. Oy vey!! :P

All the wet shenanigans!

Water on my camera lens, arf! | Chilling by the poolside

Stephen shows off his sexy legs

Yesterday, Monday, was back to real life for me as I headed back into the office for work. But after work, I drove to the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal some 40 minutes away to meet and send off the majority of the Children's Theatre team as they prepared to board their flight back to Perth. Awwwww. (I say the majority as some of them decided to extend their stay and are still in KL, and I just might meet up with them tonight if all goes well. But I digress.)

Murali helping Jenny to re-pack her luggage

Me and Stephen | Me and Val

Me, Jenny and Andrew

Group photo!

So they checked in, and then we spent some last-minute quality time at one of the coffee shops at the terminal; we said our tearful melodramatic goodbyes, exchanged best-of-lucks, keep-in-touches, hug-hug-kiss-kisses and stay-fabulous-dahleeengs...

What's with that face, Nick Choo?!

Andrew finds out that the rubber cup-holder-thingy isn't made out of chocolate | Salmiyah and Jenny

Me, John King, Kat and Scott | Say cheese!

...And then they were off, leaving me and Murali behind as he's spending a few extra days here. So we watched as the crew headed towards the departure gate, filled with a sense of wistfulness that the whole adventure has come to its inevitable conclusion; feeling grateful for the friendships forged and the new experiences gained through this tour; feeling exhilarated by having to perform on an international level, and exhausted because of having to perform on an international level; and feeling relieved, happy, sad, and a myriad bittersweet emotions that the tour has, for these lovely people and my humble if not-so-good self, come to an end ... for the time being.

Till next time!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Byebye, JB! Hello, tedium!

Yo boys and girls! Back in PJ/KL, almost back to real life once again! I drove in from JB on Thursday, and managed to make it back in a record-breaking three hours. Nobody ask how fast I was driving, arf. After the really, really smooth drive back north from JB, the first thing that happened when I entered KL was that I got caught in a massive, headache-inducing traffic jam for about 30 minutes, with a desperate need to pee, LOL. Oy, tedium!!! Can't say I was very happy to be back!

Yesterday evening we moved into the Temple Of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur, which is noticeably different from TFA in JB. The KL one is in this huge fancy building, with many floors and many rooms for various musical and dance purposes. The performance space we're in is a big room that's not as well-equipped, somewhat ironically, than the JB space. But of course, we'll do the best we can with what we have. The other thing that potentially works in our favour is that I managed to cart my big-ass keyboard to the space, rather than rely on my older (but much cherished) portable keyboard. So the sound, assuming the system works, should be much superior than the JB performances. Fingers tightly crossed.

In the KL space

After bump-in and run-through last night, everyone went their separate ways, so Jonno Langdale and I decided to drive out for dinner. I got to bring him to Ming Tien food court in PJ, a.k.a. the Tacky Place, which was hilarious because, if you're familiar with Ming Tien, it's got a Hawaiian theme, complete with order-takers and servers dressed in Haiwaiian shirts. And wouldn't you know it, guess what kind of outfit Jonno had on this evening? Here's a photo:

Heheh. Only disappointment was that nobody stopped him to ask him to take their order. Oh well. :P

Well, that's about it. Since coming back I've basically been working on some stuff for FTL (more auditions happening this afternoon to replace people who have indicated that they can't stay on for this year's potential production), and I've also been developing my entry for the Short+Sweet Musical event, a festival of ten-minute musicals that I hope to be involved in. So... fingers crossed. Tonight I'll hopefully catch up with some of the CT gang. I'm thinking Bangsar this evening. Maybe. We'll see. It's blisteringly hot outside, so I'm incredibly heavy-headed right now and can't think straight, arf. Till later... ;)

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Nick's Excellent Cross-Country Adventure, Part Four

Hey everybody!! Wow, it's been a totally hectic couple of days, I can tell you! Apart from my working for the website in the daytime, the past couple of evenings and nights have been filled with performances and post-performance festivities. Yesterday (Tuesday), we had the first show at the Temple of Fine Arts in Johor Bahru. It was a really, really good one, I felt, and even though at times it felt like the audiences' attention waned a little (possibly, perhaps, due to the language? The accents? I dunno), in the end, they — the kids in particular — loved it.

It was so cool (despite the incredible humidity; oy vey, my makeup was running down my face!) performing out here in a rather remote venue that's conventionally been used for Indian classical dance. As some of the TFA people said, it was the first time they'd ever had such a show performed in their space, and I think that's a truly wonderful thing to be able to experience, on our part. Some of the performers/characters — in particular Scott, who played the grasshopper Guan Yu — were such a smash hit, all the young members of the audience were rushing up to him and getting all squealy and wanting to take photos and stuff. Hilarious! (Although many of us believe it's because Scott's the only [natural] redhead in the cast... coupled with his green grasshopper outfit, the combination of colours must've dazzled the audience blind, heheh.)

Andrew (Bluebeard)'s fan club | John (Kangaroo)'s fan club

Scott S's international fan club!

Scott's fan club strikes again! |Group shot with the lovely people from TFA

After the show, I took a small group of us to get ice-cream and munchies, and then a bunch of us got together for drinks, and plenty of it, at the hotel's al fresco dining area downstairs. That went on for quite a while, and the ending was (as most drinking nights tend to get) a little bit fuzzy. Hmm. I'm thinking perhaps the less said about this, the better, arf arf. Some things are best kept in the memory. Like, the memory... of the mind.

Awkward pause.

Even Jenny joined us! A rarity! | Me and Jonno having a moment

Jason H | Another group shot with Jenny

Helen, Meagan, Leanne and Serena | John, Stephen and Hannah

Nick's bright idea

Tonight's (Wednesday) performance at the TFA wasn't as tight as yesterday's; in fact, there were mistakes made left, right and centre, including missed cues, dropped lines, props that fell apart (hello, ship steering-wheel thingy!), and missing items (a major one was when Andrew K's Buccaneer Bluebeard reached for the huge red feather belonging to the titular Phoenix, only to realise he didn't have it. Later, Joel S, who plays the naughty Mandarin Sun Bear, made up for it by saying, "Buccaneer Bluebeard gave this feather to us... eventually." Arf!).

For the most part the cast covered it well. And let's face it, apart from the protracted awkward silences until someone manages to pick up from where they'd inadvertently floundered, none of the audience really had a clue. So it was all in good fun, and again, the crowd seemed to love it! Yay!

After the show, we packed up my little Myvi to the roof with items for me to cart back to KL in the daytime. Yup, everyone's leaving JB tomorrow, with the CT team heading off in the morning as they're hopping on a plane; I'm going to be driving in, oy vey, on my own, for the whole four-and-a-half-hour journey. Whoohoo. Fun. But yeah, I'm looking forward to getting back home and sleeping in my own bed for a bit. Not like it hasn't been a blast, sharing a room with Jason and a bed with Murali, arf arf. Good times.

Well, I'm gonna sign off here for now, but before I do, I leave you with this absolutely pointless but at the time incredibly amusing story about Joel, who plays the naughty Mandarin Sun Bear, and who turned out after the show this evening to be a wickedly beloved character. All the kids were dying to meet him, and he was acting all evil-like and going grr argh graaarrrggh and the kiddiewinks were laughing and screaming their heads off and running away ziggedy-zaggedy in fear and absolute childlike joy.

Tang, the Evil Mandarin and Buccaneer Bluebeard (with often-seen blue stuffed toy)

So a bunch of us, in our post-performance drinking session that concluded about an hour ago, imagined the locals here erecting a huge statue of Joel as the Sun Bear, which led to someone coining the immortal quote: "Joel S is the Paris Hilton of Johor Bahru." And then somehow the thread went further, and we began imagining leaving Joel behind in JB, and coming back eventually to discover he through his wickedly charming ways he had taken over the state, and it's now known as Joelhor Bahru, and posters of his Mandarin Sun Beared self are adorning the walls of his Mandarin Sun Bear palace and the people are devotedly worshipping the Sun Bear, catering to his every dicktatorial whim and fancy, him having risen to the ranks of unBearable.

Good night, folks!!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Nick's Excellent Cross-Country Adventure, Part Three

I'm back with more updates on Monday's goings-on! After work at the coffee outlets, I managed to head over to the Straits View Hotel nearby, where I quickly freshened up before heading to the venue for the bump-in for the show. The venue is the Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) in JB, and it's located in a rather isolated village. From the outside, TFA looks like an ornate, old-style wooden house, which is what accounted for my earlier remark about the potential "culture shock" of our performing there. (It certainly would've been a bit of a culture shock for the Aussie boys and girls, I reckon. And believe you me, it was also a bit of a culture shock for yours truly, too. So there you have it).

And I was pleasantly surprised by the space we get to perform in. You see, I'd thought we'd be, like, having to perform in one of the rooms in the house. Turns out there's this large performing space out back, complete with a rather sophisticated setup of lights and sound systems. What makes it even more special is that the area is considered sacred for the Hindus because they believe that art is a gift from the gods, which, is really rather enlightening, don't you think? Yeah. So you know that old adage about books, covers and judging? Still applies, in this day and age. Who would've thought?? Colour me impressed.

Anyway, I got there in time for some of the performers from TFA to put on a classical Indian dance, which was this super energetic piece with lots of hand waves and feet stamping. They only showcased about five minutes of it, and we were rather awed when they told us the full piece could span 35 minutes or more, oy!! I'm sure many of us began to wonder what we looked like in their eyes, we bunch of current and former uni students, arf arf. Anyway. After the dance, the team got together for a further read through of the script (they'd begun earlier before I'd arrived), and then there was more gear setting-up before we managed to do a full rehearsal run of the show.

The classical dance | Script read

A glimpse at the space

By the time we were done, it was after 1am. When you consider what a long day I'd had, what with the early morning breakfast and departure from Singypoo and TNG work and driving here and there and whatnot... I'm extremely pooped! (Which isn't to discount what a long day everyone else had had, of course!). It's almost 3am now, so I'm going to head off... but naturally I'll be back with more of tomorrow's events, which will include work in the daytime (not foreseeing anything too exciting then), and the first public show at TFA at night!! Until then... sleep tight, folks!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Nick's Excellent Cross-Country Adventure, Part Two

Hey all! Bright and early on a Monday morning, and, to quote a line from The Phoenix and the Fighting Pandas, "So many mountains! I'm exhausted!"... only there aren't any mountains here in Singapore, but the point is: I'm exhausted!

We had a totally full-on day yesterday (Sunday): it started with me leaving Jo's place to drive back to the hostel where the CT team were staying. The plan was to leave my car there, and then hop on a train to one of the stations where we'd meet up as a group to head for the zoo. And thus it was done. I met the gang at Ang Mo Kio station, where I also got to meet up with my dear friend Carol (hiiiii Carollll!) for the first time since 2007, which was awesome. And we hopped onto the bus, all sixteen or so of us, and made our way to the venue of enclosed animals and caged creatures.

Jason, Jenny and me | Me and Carol

Scenes from the bus ride

When we got there, the sky was pretty gloomy, and by the time we queued up to get our admission tickets, it was pouring cats and dogs, tigers and dingos! But we decided to brave the wetness, opting to purchase fluorescent ponchos and tackle the terrain. Let me tell ya, it didn't seem all that appealing to me initially, but wandering amidst the flora and fauna at the zoo in the pouring rain is actually a whole lot of fun! My mates Jon, Murali and I even decided to go barefoot, which was a lot more comfortable - so we thought - than trudging about in soggy shoes. For the most part it was pretty cool going shoeless... until the end of the visit, a couple of hours later, when our soles were muddied and hurting and blistering. Oy. But all in good fun.

Green oddities: Me, Andrew and stuffed toy | Jon L, me and Carol. Jon looks preggers because he was carrying our shoes. We made a pact: if he carried our shoes, I took more photos with him in 'em. I think I got the better end of that deal.

Mel being an emu, with actual emu | On the train headed for dinner: Salmiyah, me, Murali and Carol

After the zoo trip, most of us were exhausted, but we decided to hop on the bus and train and go straight to the Esplanade, where we had a lovely Thai dinner by the bay, and I got to meet up again with my old friends Andrew L and Samantha B. Some exciting theatrical possibilities shaping up, since both Andrew and Sam are in the theatre biz here in Singypoo... so fingers crossed that some positive developments will take place in the not too distant future. But of course, I'm still focusing on finishing up what I've been working on (for years!) in Malaysia, so we'll take it one step at a time, won't we? Yes, we will. Anyway. I digress.

Andrew, Carol, Jenny, Sam and Jason,
with that eerily ubiquitous stuffed toy

After dinner, a bunch of us headed up to this lovely rooftop bar overlooking the Esplanade, and we started with a first round of drinks. Then we were heading back to the hostel, where some of us continued our drinking session down at the corner kopitiam, much to the amusement of the old Chinese uncle who was kind enough to put up with our raucous laughter and inane inebriated babbling, heh. Good times. I think it was after 3am when Jason H and I finally stumbled off back to the hostel as we would be sharing a room... and it wasn't long before we were both asleep, dead to the world. In our own beds. Separately. Of course.

Awkward pause.

Rooftop drinks | Kopitiam drinks

This morning, as I mentioned earlier, I was up bright and early to head back to JB, having first had breakfast with Carol, Murali, Mel M, Andrew K and Salmiyah.

Driving back onto Malaysian soil was easy enough, though it's extremely revealing that the efficiency of the Singaporean checkpoint was fast replaced by a massive backlog of vehicles jamming up the JB checkpoint. There, I was stuck behind this one car that had stopped for immigration clearance, which basically consists of showing the immigration peeps your passport. For some reason, the passengers in this car had to fill in forms, and good lord, they seemingly took forever – I think I was waiting there for about 25 minutes, I kid you not. Bloody frustrating. And then after they drove forward, I showed them my passport and was waved through in 15 seconds flat. Gah!!

Anyway, as I'm typing this section of the blog post (which, it should be noted, is being composed on Monday evening, even though this blog post began early this morning... I obviously took a long break along the way, arf arf), I'm sitting at a Coffee Bean at a shopping centre in JB (aren't GPS navigators useful? All I did was key in "Starbucks" and it led me here. It didn't recognise Coffee Bean, though. Which goes to show that Starbucks is bent on worldwide domination). I'm working out of office Monday to Wednesday, so this is going to be my daytime schedule, just working in coffee shops (so what's new, huh??) and heading to join the CT gang in the evenings for the performances. No show tonight, though. Still, I should head to the venue soon to see what everyone's up to. I think I shall do that. Soon. Ish.

Okay, so that brings us pretty much up to speed with what I've been up to these past couple o' days! I'm glad I'm getting to blog these things not too long after they happen, because heaven knows it's a pain when stories start backlogging and the memories aren't as fresh anymore and it becomes tedious to recount and blah blah blah. Anyhoo. We'll be here in JB till Thursday, and on Thursday I'll be driving back up to KL, where we'll be putting on the show this coming weekend. How exciting!! I sense a period of great exhaustion impending! Impending? What am I saying?? It's already here! Whoo-hooo!!! Okay, folks, until next time... buhbye!

PS: It's actually gone into Tuesday by the time I posted this. But never mind, it still works, arf. More updates on the remainder of Monday's events coming up!!

The CT Crew