Monday, 25 November 2013

Birthday of a King (Soon)

One month to Christmas, and in the spirit of the season (as well as of vanity and thick-skinnedness), I recorded this. Because... why not? Arf arf.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Catch Ups and Big Life Lessons

Hey all! Sorry for the long silence - for the past couple of weeks, I've been recuperating from the drama that was The Edge (heheh!), and basically been chilling out, going to the gym, meeting up with old friends and spending a bit of time reconnecting. I probably can't recall everyone I've met up with over the past fortnight, but among the highlights was a meeting with my old friend Jonathan, whom I'd known when we were six to ten years old! We were best friends then, and then he and his family moved away to Adelaide and we lost touch for many years. Then, by chance, we encountered each other on a (cough) website (prompting us to go, "Ohhh, no wonder we were best friends!)... and when Facebook came about, we managed to keep in touch.

Anyway, he was recently here with his partner, and wouldn't you know it, considering we hadn't talked in, like, 23 years, we settled into an easy camaraderie and basically had a good time hanging out and trying to share the pertinent moments that had come about over the past couple of decades. I met them at Berjaya Times Square and then took them to KLCC, where we had lunch and did the usual shopping walkabout. Here are some pics of us!

At lunch! 
Me and Jon!
Other peeps who I'd manage to catch up with included Patrick, a journalist friend who I had previously considered moving in with after moving out of my apartment at Bandar Utama; Shern, with whom I'm embarking on a collaborative musical venture that should prove rather interesting; Colin K, who directed Follow The Light three years(!) ago and who has further aspirations for our Christmas musical; Diane and Johann, who got married right about the time I left for Singapore; and the lovely Janet, who declared our conversation space a "non-judgement zone" and proceeded to cackle wickedly like a witch as my stories unfolded before turning supportive.

I'd also managed to catch up with Mikey and Bella, whom I'd first met while doing A Christmas Carol back in 2008, and it was great to spend some time with them. On Friday night we caught up for drinks and snacks at the George and Dragon in Bangsar, where, inebriated, we took silly photos, as one does.

What happens when crazy people get hammered.
Friday I also caught up with my dear old friend Tony Leo, and we had lunch at Publika and caught up on the latest dramas in our ever so dramatic lives:

Awww! Sweet!
And last night I joined the lovely and vivacious Nicole to catch a play at KLPAC, which turned out to be a lot of fun, though it resulted in me squeezing in the back seat of her Myvi which was otherwise filled with empty pet-food bags, tin cans and rubbish galore. Still, it was a lot of fun, and the show (a double-bill featuring the awesome Jo Kukathas) was very enjoyable.

One thing I've learnt over the past few days/weeks/months is the importance of community. I'm now seeing, more than ever, how crucial it is for me to expand my social and professional circle, to reconnect rather than distance myself from those in the industry, and to be able to get past my issues and really learn to look at the big picture. I've been spending a lot of time with my old friend Juan, too, who is really quite good at being the motivator, helping me to strategise for a brighter career in the arts... as well as a brighter future, mentally and emotionally, all round. So the past couple of weeks has been a time of healing and further growth, I think, with me learning more about myself, realising the folly and hubris of my past ways in which I'd thought I could accomplish things in isolation, and really embracing the way things are and the way things could (will?) be.

So that's about all for now. How are you?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Off The Edge (For Now!)

And it's a wrap folks! The end (for now) of three months (give or take!) of hard work, rehearsals, music scores, tears, emotions running wild and hugs! What a crazy ride it's been, and I'm so, so proud of the show we put on. Based on the feedback we've received (sadly, no media reviews), the audience loved it too. The standing ovations at the end of the final few shows definitely proved what power The Edge had to move those who were fortunate enough to witness it. Here's one FB post from an audience member, Azizan:

Damn man. It's not okay to make someone cry with words and music. The Edge was unbelievably amazing. If I had the chance, I'd definitely watch it again. Unfortunately, it's not showing anymore. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed the one show I watched. This musical is definitely going to be very difficult to top on my list of most emotionally moving stories/musicals. The Edge had the best storyline, accompaniment music, and lyrics in a musical out of all the others I have watched. Congratulations on this! I hope you are proud of this, because it's perfect damn it. Thank you for The Edge.

Thank you, Azizan!

I couldn't be prouder of this show, though it's had its painful moments for reasons creative, professional and personal. (I know that's a vague-ism, but I shall leave it at that.) I've said before that there were bumps in the road; sources of turbulence, as it were, that made this journey a little less than stellar all the way; but in the end, it has nevertheless been exciting and the destination was simply wonderful. And in the meantime, I shall look forward to the next journey and aim to eliminate these sources of turbulence. This isn't an easy task as it means, as our gay character Ryan says in the show, "ending relationships that cause more harm than good"... but you have to do what's right, don't you? Yes, yes, more crypticness (and yes, that's a word). Though if you know me well enough, you'd know it's not that cryptic, all in all! Anyway!

Here are pics of the final day on set, with the cast, crew, musicians and those involved.

With the terrific Jarod, Peter Ong!
Ryan, Ryan, what's your game? (Joshua Gui, you rock!)
Tria Aziz in the house, making everyone bawl!!
The supremely sexy Deanna, Safia Hanifah!
Our lovely and talented director, Sabrina Hassan!
Me with the cast, on set.

Plus musicians and our producers, Dom and Ben (far left)!
Plus everyone!!
Me and the musos, what an awesome bunch!
With our stage manager Keilly, and our sound guy Alam!
Waving mah baton for the last time (for now!)
And here's a final bye-bye, for now, as the musicians and I did a run-through of the one of the songs:


In case you didn't get the hint from all the "for now"s, we've got further plans for The Edge coming up in the not-too-distant future! More info as and when this develops folks... but in the meantime, I'm looking forward to a good rest, and to focusing my efforts on other projects in the pipeline. Thanks for joining me on this journey... there'll be more to come!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Edge Out Front

Here's a view of the display at the stage door!

Pic by Leo Selvaraj

The Big 'O'

Standing ovation during The Edge tonight! Whoo-hoooo! More to come...

Pic by Sabrina Hassan

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Edging Towards The End... For Now!

Yo wassup peeps! Okay, I'm mostly over the funk that prompted me to write the previous post (though the issues certainly still remain!)... but for now, what's important is that I hold on to the positivity of this show, which is (at time of writing) approaching its second last performance. The audience's feedback has been tremendously encouraging, and the number of people who have been moved by this story of depression and suicide serves as a reminder that what I've done and what I'm doing can make a difference in people's lives. So I shalt aim to hold on to that and not let things that are out of my control get me down. Easier said than done, of course, but hey. Baby steps.

Again, I wish I had more photos and stuff from the show to put up, but oddly that's slow in coming (and I'm busy conducting, leaving me with no time to snap away!). But until this is sorted out (fingers crossed), here's a little "review" from Colin Kirton, the dude I co-produced Follow The Light with in 2010. Thanks, Colin!!

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Seven years ago, I was approached by an unknown then-fresh-out-of-uni composer named Nick Choo, who showed me a musical he had written called "Follow The Light". I was blown away by Nick's obvious talent with words and music, and in putting together a great musical. Even more praiseworthy was Nick's humble and gracious willingness to further workshop his work with input from me.

 Four years later, I had the privilege and honour to co-produce and direct "Follow The Light" as Nick's first fully-produced professional musical. In spite of all the hurdles we faced getting that show to stage, I still look back with great fondness at being a part of this project and part of what I consider to be a landmark in Malaysian English language musical theatre.

 Last night, I went with great expectancy to catch Nick's second fully-produced musical, "The Edge". I was certainly not disappointed. "The Edge" is very different in style and tone from "Follow The Light" - a testimony to Nick's versatility - but once again, Nick showcases his genius not just at putting words and music together brilliantly, but also in injecting a huge amount of heart into the stories he weaves.

"The Edge" tackles themes of relationships - how our lives are intertwined, how the words we say or don't say and the actions we do or don't do affect those around us, and how we need to learn to deal with our hurts and issues and give or accept forgiveness before it is too late. There's no ensemble/chorus, no dancing and no lighting pyrotechnics. Think of this as a dramatic story (with some doses of humour too!) almost entirely sung by the six actors, very much in the vein of Jason Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years".

The cast all have amazing voices and do a great job of bringing the story to life, under director Sabrina Hassan's able hand and minimalist set. The five live musicians, under Nick's directorship, beautifully interpret the music, some of which is extremely complex if you take a moment to pay attention to it!

Yet the complexity of the music never for once distracts or detracts from its appreciation. "The Edge" runs for only FOUR more shows. Don't miss this! This is an entirely local musical theatre production worthy of any Broadway or West End stage, and I foresee it featuring strongly in next year's Boh Cameronian Arts Awards' nominations and, I dare say, winners.

Friday, 8 November 2013

History Repeats...

Hey all,

Just taking a break from all the Edgy updates. Actually, just so I don't forget, I'll do a brief recap - shows at night, which have been going very well, including standing ovations; media interviews on Wednesday with Capital FM and BFM; all in all, smooth-sailing and the crowd seems to be picking up, which is great.

But I just thought I'd interrupt all the positivity to report on some negativity. Unfortunately I seem doomed (a word that might be a tad dramatic) to repeat the same mistakes of the past, and I'm finding myself in a similar sort of pickle that I found myself in post Follow The Light. And I'm not entirely sure what to do about it, except acknowledge that this must stop. For my career to go any further, this absolutely has to be nipped in the bud. Though I'm not entirely sure how, though Little Jo reckons it's time for the therapy to resume. Oy.

Anyway so that's my latest update for now. I'll come back later, hopefully in a better frame of mind and mood, and report further on the show and its peripheral goings-on. Four more shows remaining, and a part of me is thankful it's going to be over soon, so I can truly get a rest, and so that distance can make the sticky situation go away...

Take care, all!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dark Days, Seafood Nights and Testimonials

Hey all! Today (well, yesterday) was our day off, following a third run of The Edge on Sunday. So I earlier met up with Little Jo, who had bussed it in from Singypoo and will be catching the show tomorrow, and we hung out at her hotel and 1Utama till afternoon, when I drove into the city to meet up with another mate from Sg, Derrick. It was a little bit of a comedy of errors as Derrick, Peter, Safia and I tried to coordinate dinner plans, but in the end we got it together and ended up at a pretty awesome seafood place in KL, where we had steamed fish, salted egg crab, veggies and prawn noodles (gawsh yummm!!). Here are some pics of us at dinnertime!

Somethin' fishy goin' on with Peter and Safia!
Group shot!
Pete doing his best Popeye impression!
So the show is well on its way, boys and girls, and tonight (Tuesday) it's going to be an important night as it's our gala/VIP evening, with bigwigs and celebrities and media (hopefully) in attendance. Not to mention Little Jo, of course, arf. So here's to an awesome show!

In the meantime, I do apologise that we don't have much in the way of photos and stuff to share of the performances (we're gonna rectify that this week, believe you me!); but in the meantime, check out this promo clip I've just put together, which includes snippets (not entirely the best quality) of live performances:


And here's another testimony from an audience member who was in tears after watching the show on Sunday. Gosh. (The final line refers to one of the characters.) Here it is:

So I was really scared at how the topic of depression would be handled when I went to watch The Edge. But I really had nothing to worry about. Nick Choo handled the issue with empathy, honesty and sensitivity and had me relating to so much that was happening. 

I was punched in the heart and torn to shreds and picked up only to be torn up again. It was beautiful. I left with puffy eyes and a runny nose and full of so much emotion, but yet, so alive. I felt. And feeling is always a wonderful thing. 

Tria Aziz and Joshua Gui were brilliant. They each gave honest, truthful portrayals and were absolutely beautiful to listen to. Thank you to everyone who was a part of the show for making this medicated bipolar girl feel understood and accepted even. Not once did I feel judged. Thank you so much for that. It is a rare thing for (so called) sensitive issues to be handled with such compassion. Thank you. 

Have a wonderful, wonderful run. P.s. I need an April of my own.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

We're on The Edge, folks!

Hey all!! And it's 2 November (at least, it was), which means we've reached the long-awaited milestone: the full staging of The Edge, opened!! And because we've done two shows today, I'm absolutely knackered and will post more about opening day/night later. But for now, here's an Instagram pic I've stolen from Facebook, featuring some blurry scenes from the show:


And I'm copying and pasting my FB status. It reads as such:

Opening day/night has come and gone... and eight shows remain! Whoooo, what an exhausting, exhilarating, exciting show! Here's a beautiful review from Janet Lee, who was part of the 2008 workshop production, as she reflects on the show she saw today. Thank you, Janet!

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On a cool Deepavali day like this, I witnessed an important history being made, it made me feel fantastic to be in the audience this afternoon in Pentas 2 KLPac. Five years ago I was part of the workshop production of The Edge the musical by Nick Choo, a beautiful script that deals with the less pleasant things in life - death and suicide.

It felt surreal and marvelous to see that short-lived workshop production came back on stage, in a full scale form, reworked, re-staged and better in every single technical and spiritual aspect. I have heard important voices on stage this afternoon, moved by the music arrangement and dramatic direction.

Though I had left the 2008 workshop production feeling slightly inadequate as an actor and singer, today I sat there watching the brand new cast of The Edge taking the issues and stories of Josh to a new level, provoking and reminding us of things we take for granted - and I feel proud being part of the workshop production after all.

This is an important milestone in the Malaysian music theatre scene, to have an original script come back to life, bigger and better, from its past life at the workshop. The Edge is intense, witty, dark, humorous, clever, closer-to-home (than you care to admit), important piece of work to look out for. Please get yourself a ticket and go in with your senses fully open. They run till November 10th in KLPac pentas 2. A Must watch this year.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Open Your Eyes! (And Ears!)

In case you're wondering, just how strong, vocally, can a cast of six people be? Well, here's a sneak-peek from tech rehearsal of The Edge tonight. Six people and a musical ensemble of five = a whole lotta powerhouse. (PS: Nobody's out of tune at the end there; it's called discordance. It's deliberate.) ;)

And you know what? The audio/video definitely DOES NOT do it justice. Want to be blown away? Come to the show, opening this Saturday!!

Ready, Set, Go!!!

So we moved into the theatre space today for our technical run (a long, arduous but very necessary process), and we managed to get a glimpse of the set for the very first time! It's pretty awesome, if I may say so. Here's a sneak-peek; there's more to it than meets the eye, folks, but I don't want to give everything away too soon! Here are the boys from The Edge on set:

Pic by Nadia Aqilah
More media have been appearing promoting the show; here's one of a web series called The Backstage Life, which chronicles local arts goings-on. Thanks to Nick Dorian for doing the interview and sharing this with us and the internets!