Thursday, 31 December 2015

As The Year Draws To A Close...


It's been quite a year, folks! Ups and downs - but mostly ups, which is awesome!! Let's see:

Biggest Ups - all the theatrical developments!!!!
Zak Zebra's African Safari (Malaysian premiere)
The Return of the Snow Queen in Perth!
Showcase of musical theatre works at No Black Tie!
 • 2084 workshop performance / Shakespeare in Perth!
 • Zak Zebra's Malaysian Safari (South Korean premiere)!!
Esya: The Musical !!!!!
Journeys, a showcase of my musical theatre works at Lasalle School of the Arts in Singapore!!!
• Commissioned for inaugural original musical by an international school for 2016!!
• Had an original song featured on Janet Lee's debut album!!
• Working with ISKL's Tim Howe and his minions wink emoticon on projects for 2016!!
• PhD SCHOLARSHIP to conduct further study and research on musical theatre in 2016!!!!!
• Judging for Short+Sweet Musical!
 • Meeting and working with some wonderful, supportive, local and international musical theatre peeps!!
FOLLOW THE LIGHT: IN CONCERT!!!!!!!

The Not-As-Ups:
• The musical that does not exist. Ah well, we can't win 'em all. wink emoticon bwahaha!! Okay, okay, it wasn't THAT bad...was it?
• Certain long-planned plans that fell through, but you know what? I should really put this in the 'ups' list because, what I've learned is: a) Sometimes things just don't work out, and that's okay; b) sometimes it's all a matter of timing, and things happen when the timing is right; and c) that old adage about one door closing and another door opening, reminiscent of those classic cat-and-mouse-chase cartoons.

The Thumbs-Down Of The Year Award:• Well. THIS. The person who suggested I should read up on how to write a musical. Sorry folks but no matter how old or experienced you are, if you don't deserve my respect, you don't deserve my respect. And this person has demonstrated that they sure as heck aren't worthy of it. I still scoff at the SHEER INANITY of it, especially in light of everything I've just listed above -- and so I'm resharing it for posterity as we enter the New Year! (Having done so, I shall pull an Elsa and let it go. Forgiveness is a virtue, much as patience is a virgin.)

Anyway. HUGE thank you to all who have supported me and continue to support me on my journey as an artiste and a human being person. I know I'm not the easiest fella to put up with at times - especially when things take a downswing - but I'm striving to better myself and am TRULY TRULY GRATEFUL for those of you who have stood by me through all of this!! THANK YOU. Here's wishing ALL OF US a HAPPY, HEALTHY, WONDERFUL NEW YEAR, with new ventures and adventures to come as we strive collectively to fulfil our dreams and that of others!!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

And Once Again, We Followed That Light

And it is finished!

In an incredibly short period of time (9 days of rehearsal), the awesome cast, musician and team under the direction of Cheryl Tan has managed to successfully pull off two terrific nights of Christmastime musical mayhem, a.k.a. Follow The Light (in concert)!!


Featuring most of the songs from the show (some abridged), we performed to two sold out shows at Playspace in Damansara Perdana, with a turnout bigger than we expected — so much so that we had to put in extra seats and allow for standing room. What a blast!

The Shepherds rockin' it up!
The awesome cast - in the forefront, Joshua as Joe; Alia as Mary; Steph as Angel Gabe
You've got to folllowwww the liiiiiiiighhhhttt!!!
Thank you once again to everyone who made this concert possible, with lots of love and gratitude from yours truly and Dimitri, Marvin the Shepherd's favourite ‪sheep‬, pictured here:


We managed to get some video and audio recordings done, so when I've got more to share, I'll put some of it up here. But in the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are a couple of 15-second Instagram snippets, courtesy of Kakiseni. (Trust me, these shot-from-a-distance clips don't do justice to how truly awesome the music and performances are. You'll be hearing more soon!) And have I mentioned there's a review on the show already out? Go check 'em out! Enjoy!


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Ya, Mon!(tage)

In celebration of 10 years of FOLLOW THE LIGHT — a decade since it had its world première in Western Australia, and five years since its Malaysian debut — here's a montage to say HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, featuring selected members of the cast and creative team from both productions. Thank you to everyone who managed to send a video — here's to many more productions of this crazy Yuletide musical to come!!!

We've Been Following the Light for 10 Years!

Tonight's performance of FOLLOW THE LIGHT: In Concert!
Throwback to stable days...

Monday, 28 December 2015

On This Night...

...This is happening!!!


Throwback to 2 Weeks Ago...

A couple of weeks ago on Dec 12, I did a 30-hour trip to Singapore to hang out with Little Jo, Judi (who was visiting on her way back to the UK) and her boyfriend Adrian. Yay, what fun!! Here are pics of us!!

My hotel room at the Grand Pacific.
With little Jo.
Hi Joooooodiiii!!
Cendol, baby!
Ade, our new BFF.
Omm nom nom!
So pretty. (And Judi looks lovely too!)

Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Burfday Jesus!

Oooo! Before it hits midnight and we greet Boxing Day, let me quickly use the remaining time to wish one and all a VERY VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Yesterday marked the final performance of Esya, and boy was it great to have witnessed the run! As per the plan, I was even called back on stage for the final bows, before the cast and team did a group photo which I sadly missed out on because I had to rush off for Christmas Eve mass with little Jo (who managed to catch the show too, yay!!) But here's the group photo they managed to snap, sans composer (sniffles!) ;)


I've spent most of this quiet Christmas Day promoting our upcoming Follow The Light concert, in celebration of its 10th and 5th anniversaries! It's happening this coming Monday to Wednesday, yaay!! This morning I got up early and drove to the Bernama TV studio for a quick live-to-air television interview, where I managed to talk a little bit about myself and what I do as well as plug the show. Thanks, Dessy, for setting this up! The rest of the day was spent spamming folks on Facebook about the show, heheh. Hopefully this will result in more bums in seats come showtime.

I end this post with a throwback to 2005 when Ammy Phoenix (then Anne-Marie Manuel) recorded this demo of Be It Unto Me from the show, which was even aired on Perth radio! Awesome! Take it away, Ammy!!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Curtain Up! Eeeeeeeee!!(sya)

Esya has opened, and so far it has been both entertaining, evocative and provocative, based on some of the feedback I've been receiving from various people! But all in all, it's really quite a thrill for me to have a show produced on a big scale such as this one, so thank you to SIBKL for the opportunity! Here are some pics from opening night last Friday, as well as a video of me being called to the stage in a surprise curtain call!! Wheeeee!! (All pics courtesy of SIBKL; click on them for bigger views).







Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Yeeeee-sy-haaaaa!!!

More musical madness lies ahead, with Esya: The Musical just around the corner, curtain up on opening night this Friday! The great news is that all tickets have pretty much been sold out, guaranteeing full houses every night. I'll be watching a few of the performances, but I had the pleasure of observing their first full run last night, and managed to take a few pics and footage. So proud of my involvement in this little show, thanks so much to the folks of SIBKL for bringing me on board! Here are some pics from last night, as well as a 60-second sneak peek below:


Red-light district. What is this Christmas musical about?!
A beautiful night-time village scene.

A Short (True) Story...

So I was at the McDonald's drive thru window when I was served my order by a staff member who was leaning against the window, her back to me, passing me my paperbag of food with one outstretched hand while she yakked yakked yakked away to her co-workers.

Annoyed, I cordially told her, "Miss, when you serve a customer next time, look at them. Otherwise it's very rude."

Chastened, she whispered, "Oh! So sorry, uncle."

Well, that backfired in my face, didn't it?!

Wonderland, Wonderment & Bewilderment

Among my potential projects for next year is a new musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, potentially produced by an international school here that is rather renowned for their creative arts department. So recently I created a couple of demos, among them is It All Makes Sense To Me, which you can check out in the clip below:


So last week I shared this on Facebook, which, of course, allows people to comment on it. And then, something happened which led me to put up this post, transcribed for your reading pleasure below:

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Many of you have been asking and speculating on the post I put up recently. Basically it was in response to a member of a certain theatre production company based in KL, who, upon seeing my demo for an upcoming project (AS ABOVE) proceeded to leave me a single-line comment:

"http://www.musicals101.com/write.htm

....which brings you to this page: "how to write a musical". 

As you can imagine, I was baffled and dumbfounded by this comment. What was this person trying to imply? (To me, it's rather obvious what they were trying to imply...am I overreacting??) Do note: musicals101 has MANY pages – this person *specifically* chose to link "how to write a musical", which is not even easily located on the home page! 

First off, how many musicals have *they* written? None. Secondly, did nobody teach them common sense and artistic decency to NOT comment if they don't have anything nice or constructive to say about an artist's work? It would be akin to them sharing a post about one of the numerous projects they bring into the country, only for me to post "producing101 – how to put on a theatre show". 

It would be like you putting up a FB promo of the next play you're starring in or a new dance piece you've devised, and I reply with a scathing "performing101". Here we are, trying to show some of what we've been putting sweat and tears into creating with some sense of pride and satisfaction, only to be made to feel belittled. Insulting doesn't begin to describe it. 

See, here's what you do if you didn't think much about someone's work: don't comment. OR, if you genuinely want to support the artist, send them a private message: "Hey Nick, I listened to your demo, just thought I'd give you some feedback if I may?" I'm down with that. At the VERY least, provide an explanatory message accompanying the link: "Hey Nick, not sure if you've seen this site before but I find it a good resource, maybe you would too." I'd still go, "Hmmm what's THAT supposed to imply?" but I wouldn't be so outraged about it; I'd be able to deduce, eventually, that you might've meant well. 

What NO person with an OUNCE of common sense would do is just leave that link with no contextual descriptor. There is a way to phrase a sentence when you're trying to suggest or be helpful – they teach these things in primary school! 

The real shame is that this theatre company is seemingly respected and popular – their shows purportedly sell well – but they're also incredibly arrogant. When I spoke to them recently about wanting to collaborate, I was challenged because my proposed style of theatre "would be in direct competition with them". When I suggested doing a showcase of my work (before my No Black Tie gig came about), these uppity folks sneered, "But why? Who would want to come to watch it?" 

"Producers," I suggested. 

"Well, *we're* producers but there's nothing to entice me to go watch it. After all, who is Nick Choo?" Their inability understand the logic that this is PRECISELY why you should watch my showcase astounded me. Sheer madness! 

These are people who are "Malaysian arts practitioners" but don't believe that Malaysian theatre, especially musical theatre, can sell. In short, they're not supporters and nurturers of the Malaysian arts scene. They are ardent supporters and nurturers of themselves. 

I have a couple of regrets. Firstly, that I was so furious upon seeing the comment that I deleted it rather than let it be or screenshot it. As such, I no longer have evidence that this comment existed, and therefore cannot name this person or company since I have nothing to prove it. But those of you who know me would know that I have NO reason to convey such slanderous claims against any theatre company – not in public anyway. ;) 

The second is that, in my prior years as a journalist, I spent quite a bit of time supporting them (from the years 2007 onwards), giving them publicity and highlighting the acts they bring in. Well, you've lost my support, folks. And any modicum of respect that I had for you since we last spoke face-to-face, in light of the asinine comment on my Facebook post. 

The truth is, I'm not really angry about it anymore. Because angry would imply I cared enough to retain the emotion I felt when I first saw the comment. But it quickly sank in that these people mean nothing to me. These people, who I once looked up to as experts in the scene who I could potentially one day work with, have proven exactly how they are not worth my time or effort or talent. They are NOT WORTHY OF ME. Continuing to be angry about it means that there's some sort of value in their existence – and there really isn't. 

So why this long post, you ask? Well, because it happened. I can't prove it anymore, but it happened – hey, it's an intriguing little anecdote isn't it? And other people in the industry and beyond will still look up to them as the clever(?), enterprising(?), successful(?) producers they appear to be. But I now realise they're less than that. They're selfish, insecure and un-nurturing. I'm sure a lot of us are, but many of us also ATTEMPT to be open, and warm, and not condescending – traits that seem to be lost on these people. 

I'm moving on, peeps. Got my 25-piece-orchestra musical premiering around the corner. Got to rest from my month-long artist-in-residence at LASALLE College in Singapore, and I don't think I've sufficiently rested from our South Korean tour of Zak Zebra or the new musical workshop I did in Australia immediately after. And I've also got to plan for a potential restaging of The Edge, my Cameronian Arts Award-winning musical. 

But before that, let me spend some time reading "musicals101 – how to write a musical" because the link came from such a respected source that it MUST be worthy of my time. (Make no mistake, the site *is* a good REsource... I'm just making a point here, not gloating.) ;) Oh well, that's enough of all that. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run off to prepare for my concert staging of Follow The Light (also an award winner, in Australia, no less), which was last staged in 2010 at PJ Live Arts. No further clues to be garnered here. Thanks for reading. 

----

True story, boys and girls. True story. As one of my close friends recently said, "Nick: next time you wake up to a comment like that on Facebook or anywhere online, don't delete! Screenshot it. Use it as a defence in future. Hit 'pause' on reacting emotionally and think, 'I need to get revenge. Hmmm. How can I make this person feel what I'm feeling right now?'" This friend is going to make a great dad one day. Arf arf.

The Journey That Was (Pt 2)

Here's some highlights from last month's Journeys concert in Singapore. Pics by various people, including and especially Mr Seah Huan Yuh. Also: Joel Low, Stefanos Rassios, Clarence Liew and more! Enjoy — don't forget you can click on them for fuller views.

Setting up the stage for 'Journeys' last month. What's with the cape?
The Singaporean equivalent of "Well, duh". The caped guy's costume every night.
Backstage selfie.
Our stage manager Clarence at work!
Look, ma! Our poster's on the wall!
Putri took a selfie while I tried to take a selfie.
Sitzprobe at work!
We're looking a little green....
More sitzprobing action.







It's showtime!












This guy was truly the star of the show.
More miscellaneous shots by various peeps. :)





And it's a wrap! Great jobs, boys and girls!
I even got a gift from my "biggest fan". I love how much
thought and effort went into the packaging...
Bye-bye wefies: me and Joel!
Me and Terrance!
Awwww!!! *something in my eye*