Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Larsen, Keys and Catching Up!

On a happier note, today I drove into KL city (for the first time in ages!) to KLCC to meet up with an old friend from Murdoch Uni. The awesome Brien Keys is in town, with his lovely partner Kate Larsen, and it was wonderful catching up with them since it's been, like, literally five years since I saw Brien last. Brien was the former theatre manager and technician at Nexus Theatre - he left right before we staged FTL in '05 - and I've been keeping track of his adventures abroad thanks to the frequent emails he and Kate send out.

So when they said they would be swinging by this part of the world this month, I thought, Let's meet up!!! And meet up we did. There's a strange poetry, I think, in the idea that it's been almost exactly five years since we last said "Bye-bye and all the best" and I was staging FTL then, and today we said "Bye-bye and all the best" and I'm staging FTL now... and now Brien and Kate are going home to Aussieland apprehensively excited about their uncertain future, while I, of course, being currently unemployed and with no idea of what the next few weeks - months! - will have in store, do have some idea of what that's like. See? Symmetry. ;)

Here are pics of Brien, Kate and yours truly, after our post-lunch coffees! Thanks for a lovely time, guys! All the best, and see you again real soon!

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

Hey all! Nick's back - just quickly. Sorry again for lack of updates, but you know how it is. We're inching ever closer towards the opening night of FTL (OMG can it be true?? But we're not ready yet! There's still so much to be done! We need more rehearsals! I haven't even started practising with the band yet! AUGGGH!! HELP!, and so on, and so forth.)

I wish I could say this process has been a lot less complicated and tedious than our 2005 version, but when I really stop to think about it, it hasn't been. If anything, the 2005 show was so much easier... partially because of our status as exuberant, naive and non-jaded university students and/or fresh graduates, I suppose; and also because we (sort of) had the support of the university that provided us the venue (with caveats). And there was the fact that - for some reason - the cast learnt everything a lot more quickly then. Which isn't a reflection on the quality of our performers; rather, I think the cast then had a lot more time on their hands to revise and do their homework, compared with the busy, busy people we have today. And so, even when it came to, say, chucking out the "gold myrrh and frankincense" original melody and writing an entirely new one altogether, the 2005 cast were able to pick it up at the last minute. I wish I could safely presume this to be the case if I had to change any of the songs for this year's production now. But the idea, honestly, makes me nervous. So I won't think about it. Oy.

I also think part of the reason this year's production has been so bumpy is just the general lack of a support team, which boils down to us not having enough (read: any) money. And this in turn, I surmise, boils down to the difficult subject matter. It's difficult enough marketing a show like this in a secular or "Western" country. Factor in "Muslim country" and "Malaysian politics" and you've got a whole new nightmare altogether. But that's a whole other can of worms. The point is, it's this same lack of support that makes me wonder if certain people involved in the show are treating this as a lesser priority compared with their other projects. Make no mistake, I'm not stating this to be a known fact: I'm just saying that for whatever reason, that's the feeling I'm getting, an impression I'm picking up on - which could actually be my paranoia and/or exhaustion speaking. But stuff like last-minute requests for schedule changes to accommodate other commitments (or sometimes no request whatsoever, just a failure to show up); an overall lack of urgency; the sense of disgruntlement and sidetracked-ness due to other projects... it's all a part of life, I suppose, when you're working with real people, real performers with real lives and real priorities they have to prioritise. So I totally understand, on the one hand. But on the other, it doesn't make it any less frustrating. Or discouraging.

The other day I tweeted: "Oh look. There's a towel. Maybe we should throw it in." But we just have to keep swimming, because, really, what's the alternative?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Eeeek! Eeeek!

Nick's still alive! Nick's still blogging! Nick's just been busy getting stuff done for FTL! It's all very exciting and frustrating and nerve-wrecking and exciting! Oh, I said exciting twice! Oh well! Check back in soon for more updates. And the FTL blog has been updated - check that out too! Bye for now!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Lost footage!

Here's a recording of Little Girl Lost on the final night, 2 Oct 2010. Regrettably the video isn't great as it's footage from a mobile phone, but I think you'll be able to get the gist of the mini-musical, heh!! Thanks to my brother for the clip. When and if we get the official footage from the theatre, I'll upload it... but in the meantime, this will have to do. Keep an ear out for the heckler audience-member who tries to join in at the very end of the show, arf. And if you're interested, check out the lyrics of the show here. Cheers!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Further Lost

More photos of Little Girl Lost, thanks to Kelab Shashin Fotografi KL, courtesy of KLPac on Facebook.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Little Girl Lost: The Final Night

Here are some pics of the final performance of Little Girl Lost during S+S Musical. All pics are courtesy of Budak Mabuk, with much gratitude! :)



Monday, 4 October 2010

Ups and Downs

Wow, it's been a weekend of highs and lows. Following our win on Saturday night, I awoke to news that one of the girls in our cast had lost someone very, very near and dear to her in a car accident. Talk about a shocker! Just a few hours ago we were laughing and celebrating, and then it all changed. So all thoughts of saluting our success have shifted to focusing on sending her well wishes, condolences, love and prayers. Sigh, life. How unpredictable and fragile it can be.

Anyway, I won't go too much into this to respect her privacy. We're still very proud of what we've accomplished, but understandably it's not the focal point right now. Still, I'll leave you with a couple of pics of us backstage while waiting for the winners to be announced, courtesy of the lovely Sandra Mannas Wolf, who played "Mother" in our show. And there'll be more stuff coming, I promise, including that anticipated video of the performance! Stay tuned.

With Fang, who played "Faith"

Me, Fang and Sandra

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Aaaand the winner is....!

And concluding the final performance of Short + Sweet Musical 2010: Prize-giving! It is with great pride and joy that I announce that Little Girl Lost won for the following:

Best Libretto (Script and Lyrics)
Best Composition (Music)
Audience's Choice Award, and
Best Overall Production!!!!

WHOOHOOO!!!! A big, big thank you to all those involved in the show - Llew, Elvira, Fang, Janet and Sandra - and also heartiest congratulations to the winners in the other categories!! Not to mention gratitude to all our supporters - the judges, the audience members, friends and family - including my folks, and Terry and Chan Ghee, who were in the audience tonight, as well as Debs, who saw the first show on Wednesday... not to mention fellow thespians and drama mamas!!

The third show on Friday night certainly was memorable, because it was a pretty "weird" night performance-wise. First off, one of the girls sang her song in the wrong key, which clashed somewhat with the music, and yet she managed to retain her composure and gradually find her way back to the proper key, arf arf. Oddly enough, when it came to the repeat of the verse which she'd unintentionally messed up, somehow she sang it in the wrong key again. This created a sense of symmetry, really - the impression that the song was really meant to sound that way. Pretty clever of her... except she says she hadn't done it on purpose. Oh well. Good job anyway. Heh.

Today's final show was also memorable because of the final line of the show, which is usually sung by the lovely Janet Lee. You see, one of the most popular refrains in the show is the line "Would you like a lollypop?", which Janet's character Hope sings repeatedly throughout the show. Tonight, for the first and only time, as she began to sing the final line of the show: "Would you like...?", a mischievous audience member sings out semi-tunelessly, "...a lollypop?" Oy vey!! It was hilarious, in an absolutely annoying and frustrating way, LOL!! Several other people giggled, but Janet kept her composure and remained in character through it all, even as lights faded and the crowd cheered.

Prizegiving was certainly a highlight, as one by one the winners were announced: first for Best Supporting Actor and Actress (which went to performers from the second item in the line-up); then Best Featured Actor and Actress (which went to performers from the first item); followed by Best Musical Director (which went to Elvira, who worked on music for the third item in the line-up but who also starred in LGL; congrats, Elvira!!); and then Best Director (third item again); followed by Best Composition (fourth item, i.e. us)!! I received the latter prize from the guest of honour, and then the Festival Director announced the winner of Best Libretto and said, "Come back, Nick!" Arf. Then it was time for the Audience's Choice Award, and we won again!! Whoohoo!! Finally the Festival Director announced, "And now, the winner for Best Overall Production is..." and you could hear people in the audience saying, "Little Girl Lost." And true enough!! Four awards, baby!! Awesome!

Here we are! (Thanks to Sandra & Fang for the pic!)

So it has been an absolutely terrific night, and a great overall experience putting on this ten-minute production despite the ups and downs! I'll be sure to put up footage from the show soon (I have a video of Tuesday night's dress rehearsal, but I'd rather put up the performance that was filmed earlier tonight, the final show)... so watch this space! ;) In the meantime, congratulations to one and all once again. A job well done, everybody! Here's to Short+Sweet Musical 2011!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Lost In Motion

Hey, everyone! Performance #2 of Little Girl Lost, which debuted on Wednesday night in Short+Sweet Musical 2010, is over with, and we're looking at two more remaining shows!! So far, some technical issues with sound aside, things have been going very well, and the word is very positive about our show - which, of course, is absolutely thrilling to hear. The folks in the other three items in the line-up are also doing a stellar job, and a number of my friends have expressed their pleasure that the entire show - which spans about an hour in length - has surpassed expectations; that they've come away pleasantly surprised and entertained by what they've seen and heard. Awesome.

I've just realised that I've never put up the synopsis and info on the show on this blog, so for those of you who're curious (or bi-curious, bwaa haa haa haa), here it is. (Incidentally, there's no official logo design for my show, so I've just made this one up. I quite like it... don't you?)

Book, music & lyrics | Nick Choo
| Llew Marsh
Musical direction, arrangement & performance | Nick Choo
Featuring (in order of appearance) | Sandra Mannas Wolf, Elvira Arul, Janet Lee and Fang Chyi Chang
First performance | 29 Sept 2010,
Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

Synopsis | A mother loses her young daughter in a crowded place. She encounters three other women, who are each affected by the missing child and are forced to confront their own pasts.

I've also realised that I've not put up the categories for which LGL could win. You see, in addition to this being a festival for mini-musicals that run for ten minutes or less, it's also a competition, and awards will be given out after the final performance on Saturday for the following:
  • Best Libretto
  • Best Composition
  • Best Musical Director
  • Best Director
  • Best Overall Production
  • Best Lead Male Actor
  • Best Supporting Male Actor
  • Best Lead Female Actor
  • Best Supporting Female Actor
  • Audience's Choice Award
Since our show only has four female characters, the Male Actor awards are moot... but everything else is up for grabs, and I think we stand a pretty good chance of nabbing at least one of the above! :) So wish us luck, boys and girls. Friday night's seats are going fast, and the final night, as I've been told, is completely sold out! Whooo-hoooo!!!