Friday, December 29, 2006

Let's Go Retro - 2006

Out & about
Went deeper underground
Rediscovered Malacca
Took a pretty big dip

Matters of the heart
Lost a good friend of 14 years
Fell in love, lost him, still one of the greatest men in my life
Father gave me his blessings

Because it's our responsibility
Got a little wild
Went out looking for justice and got something back
Found paradise

Stepping stones
Shot a movie, attended the premiere
Painfully watched my attempt at arthouse
Broke a bridge, twice
Did a corporate video
Looked a little presentable
Contributed my two cents

Now that was quite random
I SWEAR it was
Excuse me?
Hot & sweaty

Man, I'm pooped.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Broken Bridges The Musical - Ipoh

After the last show at KLPac, our goodbyes were not too dramatic as we knew that most of us would see each other again in two months. The Ipoh leg was a 'labor of love' in Joe's words, to honor the place that gave birth to the musical. Almost everyone was able to commit to the second round, and we had refreshment rehearsals that began less than two weeks before showtime.

The cast and ensemble met up at KLPac on a Thursday morning, and we shot off in several cars.

Ipoh, gloomy weather notwithstanding, was beaming with small-town hospitality. In its quieter moments it seemed to possess an impenetrable calm.

We had performances due from Friday til Sunday, so the whole of Thursday was devoted to getting acquainted to the new set-up at Taman Budaya. Many of us switched to adrenaline reserves as the day wore on, and it was tough to hide the fatigue during rehearsals. But we knew that once we were over the hill, there was time to enjoy what Ipoh town had to offer over the weekend.

Main entrance to Taman Budaya

Our rather early calltimes left some opportunity for us to get schmoozy before physical warm-ups, makeup and wardrobe.

It also allowed Douglas and Soon Yoon to rekindle their onstage chemistry. The rest of us sat and watched with tears of bliss.

This happened when Saasani and I were taking a picture of each other at the same time. Her flash went off while Tony E attempted to hamper her trigger-happiness. The result: Tony tasting the white-hot ectoplasmic representation of his mojo.

With Joanne K, Joanne P and new recruit Rebecca in the female dressing room...

... which by nightfall, turned into a sweltering glamour station.

The cast party was a blast. It was held at Indulgence, a swanky little spot located on the opposite side of the road from Taman Budaya. We probably broke the record for highest decibel level ever reached at the restaurant, and within a 5-mile radius for that matter. It didn't help that Douglas's personal cheerleaders from KL came by to crash the party. At least they were nice enough to watch our show twice while we were there, and squealed for their superstar from the otherwise wasted sovereign balcony seating.

With Rachel, Ky-Gan, Colin, Soon Yoon, Ben, Carol & Yen Lin

When the stress of breaking bridges is... broken. (Visit Wen Li's blog for the video clip)

The next day, Ky-Gan took some of us to Nam Heong, the coffee shop that inspired him to create the one owned by Uncle Wong in the musical.

Nicole, who has a bun in her own oven, sampling Ipoh's famed cuisine

Ky-Gan & Emily

On one of the leisurely afternoons, Colin, Ky-Gan, Nicole and I also embarked on a little field trip to Iskandar Polo Club.

Colin was chaffeur of the day. He's an amazingly well-read person, the enviable sort who knows at least something about everything. His worldliness distracted our minds from the midday Ipoh heat.

If you stood like this for hundreds of years, you'd get varicose veins too.

"The water here's crystal clear, that's why no pimples can you find on my face!" *cue impish giggle*

The Tard's elegant display of interpretive dance in a polo field

We found some horses grazing in a nearby enclosure. One of them frequently nuzzled Nicole's belly, as though he was extending his best wishes to both the expectant and expected.

Stallion legs are sexy, no?

The Heritage Hotel was a nice place to be put up in. It was just a few minutes' drive from the show venue, the room (which I shared with Nicole) had a wondrous view, and the breakfast spreads were nice 'n' wholesome if one woke up early enough to enjoy it in its entirety.

Everyone found their own ways of spending the nights in, including

Playstation and DVD madness in Nick and Tony L's room,

Board game strategy in Johann & Maybel's room,

And free stand-up comedy shows in Douglas's junior suite.

After the final show, most of us at a farewell meal at FMS, a humble but well-known steakhouse in town which, if it's not one of the oldest food joints in the country, could aesthetically pass off as it anyway. Few of the elderly staff have been working there since their younger days! The food is fantastic and affordable, and is a mandatory stop for anyone coming to Ipoh town.

We don't know if we'll ever get the chance to stage Broken Bridges again, but we know for sure that we've all taken something back for safekeeping in our hearts... whether it be friendships, learning experiences, or a good tight slap from a vicious pack of Cheong Soh wannabes.

For a more detailed account of the Ipoh staging, you can check it out in the upcoming January issue of the Living Arts newsletter, for which I will be a regular contributor from next year onwards.

Thanks to Saasani for the street pic of Ipoh.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Are you with us?

I've just been shortlisted for a Malaysian opinion writing competition.

I will never know the why, but I can bear enough responsibility to explain the how.

When I first came to know about the competition, I decided to give it a miss as I didn't think I had anything important to say. A few days before the deadline, the site ambled its way into my lunchtime browsing regime. At this time, the inspiration that was plucked from my trip to the Furry Friends Farm trip was still citrus fresh, and I figured I could try squeezing some juice out of that somehow. However, I was due to leave town the very next morning for the Ipoh leg of Broken Bridges. A raw idea, 10 hours... If I didn't act on it, I knew the lost chance would haunt me. So I went at it. I didn't have time to plan out a general sense of direction, so I wrote out my thoughts in random paragraphs and pieced it together in the most cohesive way possible, and emailed my submission by evening.

Three weeks later, I the following email.

"First of all, congratulations! Our editorial team here at theCICAK has selected your article as one of the top five pieces that we have received, so good work, and thumbs up! ...

Top F-... I beg your friggin' pardon?

... Our judging panel is currently in the process of looking at the top five entries to determine our grand prize winner, who will be announced on 12 Jan 2007.

As well, we're going to be collecting e-mail votes for each of our top five to determine our People's Choice Award, so be sure to tell your friends that you've been nominated. More details here:

Just to remind you that you're in the running for both the grand prize of RM500 in cash + a RM300 Borders electronic gift card, as well as for the People's Choice Award of RM300 in cash + a RM150 Borders electronic gift card. If you win either or both prizes, you'll also have your winning article published in theSun. Keep looking out for the results in early January!"

Enough information to induce a 15-minute round of uninterrupted blinking.

I honestly wasn't expecting anything out of this apart from the triumph of trying. I have no idea what theCICAK's editorial team saw in a neo-hippie rant, neither do I know if they are aware of how much it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst four other samples of how the brain of a Mensa member probably works. But it's a great honor and I'm chuffed all the same. It's also great to know that some people out there have something to say, and it still makes sense.

It's the first time my writing has ever been officially recognized for anything, but it's a feeling I might be able to get used to, and I'm gonna ride this wave as far as it takes me.

May the best article win, and Merry Christmas to all.

To read the shortlisted pieces and cast your votes, visit theCICAK's website.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Broken Bridges The Musical - KLPac

I've finally gotten down to this entry. One cannot imagine the enormous sense of well being that I am experiencing.

I won't testify that a four-month journey can be expressed in 34 photos, but my eyes are tired after sifting through the hundreds of images that I took for this album, and I can only hope that my audience is one that is easy to please.

Through my lens, this is Broken Bridges The Musical.

The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre is situated in Sentul Park, a place that is a world of its own. Many areas are still unchartered by those who even work at KLPac.

This is Genevieve, our first point of contact into the musical. Teaching brand new songs to a bunch of musically untrained hooligans required a lot of patience, which to our delightful discovery was Gen's gift from the heavens. Seated next to her here is Chuang Yik, who composed the songs, and Faridah Merican, a person who Joan Osborne should be introduced to.

Gen's daycare centre had some part-time helpers, like Joanne P and Yen Lin.

Tra la la

The poster shoot was done at this early stage. Never in my life had I worn both heels and hemlines so high. The outifts were rented, and my dress was later worn by Janice for the actual staging. Carol and I played miscellaneous chicks who were wooed by Tony E's character Ringo (he was shot separately).

The first two months consisted of learning the songs with Gen and whipping our bodies up to performance par with our choreographer, Pat. When we moved up to the larger room for the actual rehearsals, Douglas started off the snack table, and everyone else continued to chip in.

Until this dude stepped in and rendered half of our minibar untouchable.

That's Mervyn, our voice coach. Wit sharp enough to carve into bone. He stressed on how we should avoid anything that would coat the throat and affect our singing. Under his training, our overall sound was nothing short of miraculous.

He helped Janice find a voice she's never used before.

Our director, the formidable Joe Hasham. The eye of the hurricane.

I always loved the way Faridah rested her cheeks on her knuckles; someone so venerable appearing so childlike intruiged me to no end. Next to her here is Lina, Assistant Stage Manager (school equivalent of class monitor).

Faridah's dog, Sherbert Gravel. She was kept in Faridah's office most of the time. I wondered why something so pitiful-looking was always alone whenever I passed by. I found out one day after I tried entering her domain and came out with a tear in my corduroy pants. A darling nevertheless.

Pat, petite dynamo of a woman. Her fitness routines were gruelling, but she always made it fun. Tried to, at least.

Carliff giving Callista a little dip for 'Drink, Drink'

Janice played Mei Ling, Ming's love interest. A true beauty, inside and out.

The confrontation scene in 'No More'...

...and the corresponding page in the script which leads to Colin's heartwrenching parting song.

Joe overlooking the Epilogue scene. The accent of my character morphed as much as her personality. From Ah Lian to natural 'international school'/Douglas-says-it's-Aussie accent, to an attempt at mild chinese. My steadfast western pronounciation of the word 'local' always gave me away.

Costume designer Yeow in discussion with writer Ky-Gan

A few weeks before the staging, we managed to devote a weekend to recording the musical's soundtrack in Pentas 2, the smaller of 2 stages at KLPac. It was a long and arduous process, but we were too stubborn to let the opportunity go.

Coming face to face with the stage for the first time had its own obligatory share of oohs and aahs.

'Ye Lai Xiang' sequence

Leroy is a macho, macho man. Nick and Johann stand back in awe.

Like father, like son? Hint: squinting helps.

Three dressing rooms were respectively accorded to the main cast, female and male ensemble, but the props and quick-change room was bound to have the most buzz on every night of the show.

Nicole fixing her curls

Monti & Tony E.

Joanne Kam getting ready in the main cast room

Soon Yoon and Douglas leading the vocal warm-ups before showtime

Camera whores: there's a few in every production.

Monti and Colin playing Uncle Chan and Uncle Wong respectively, chilling out on set and in costume.

Rachel the nightingale, portaying Siew Yee in 'Ming Ko Ko'

Sorry to end this so abruptly, I've just realized I don't have a group picture of everyone involved in the production. Oh well, at least there's still the roadtrip to Ipoh to cover.

Thanks to Fang for contributing to the pictures. To the others whom I am sure I have forgotten about, do spank me when the chance arises.