Saturday, September 01, 2007

Scandal in the city

I went to watch Tunku the musical last night (ya, on Merdeka eve, patriotiknya..) with Bernice. We arrived early to collect our tickets. Then went to get dinner, missed a turn, ended up back at Damansara, and made the whole trip to KLpac again.

A quick peek at some of the main cast:

Doreen Tang (Michelle Ooi's aunt) and Zamil Idris (finalist in Malaysian Idol 1), as the lovebirds Fauzia and Malik (son of Syed)That's Syed (Tony Eusoff). He's racist against Chinese, and Fauzia is Chinese adopted by Malays. So he disapproves their love. (ooooh drama)The Singaporean Reporter. Douglas Lim has put on weeeiiiighhhhtttt. Someone tell him to lose some please.

Fast forward - a producer's review.
So of course I have lots to say about the musical since I went to pick up a few pointers for future use.
First, the cast was EXCELLENT. I am really proud of the main cast, the singing was highly professional and the acting was believable and emotional. It's a sigh of relief to hear good performances.I also thought it was smart to minimize the use of props. They kept it simple, less of a mess.

If only the other parts were that good too. I thought the storyline was quite messy - scenes jumped from one to another either too quickly or too slowly. Only a few scenes allowed good time for me to be emotionally drawn into the story. The good scenes I remember included one where a bunch of Malay boys essentially rape/assault/throw the sweet Chinese girl around. That part was well choreographed, sufficiently outstanding, almost radical.

The choreography was nothing to fuss about other than that scene, though. At certain parts, they could have done more than just stand there and sing. I found myself bored quite a bit.
The costumes were...strange because this is the '60s. They were modern, but I dunno. No comment.
My MAIN COMPLAIN OF ALL, though, was the SONGWRITING.
I mean, seriously, it was ridiculous. Absolutely cliche, hardly any sense of originality, and only a tinge of culture to it.
I'm so disappointed about that, for obvious reasons. There were so many lines that were badly syncopated (mismatched) that I would find it impossible to believe that the songwriter studied music outside Malaysia. It sounded like he studied classical music in a local university (not much no offense intended). The harmonies and parts were good, but the actual CONTENT (lyrics and melody) was depressing.

Ok, I know they tried to add a Malaysian touch to it by mixing Malay, English, and Chinese. Plus some intentional Manglish to stay believable. All that is fine. But you can't do that for the serious parts as well! It's so distracting. It's like when people put the wrong accents in words, like TO-mor-row, instead of to-MOR-row.
ac-TION instead of AC-tion.

can you hear it already? wouldn't that be annoying?

Then there's the splitting of words to fit the song. You canNOT split just any word. You can do "desssss....ti....nyyyyyy"

but it doesn't work for "mo....de......rrrrrrate".

get it?

It was all so gagging.

Ok fine. I'll give points for three parts that I actually remember (did I mention the songs were forgettable too?).
Highest points go to No.1, least points to No.3:
1. The reporters are trying to get something juicy from the head. This scene was good; the reporters take turns at posing questions, then singing together the line "What's your comment?", and it builds up to them all just yelling questions then ending with a big What's Your Comment.
2. The mistress is heartbroken about not being able to go public about the affair. Despite the cliche lines, it was necessarily simple, and it had a reprise when he dismisses her. The last line tried to stick in my mind, but all I can recall is "all this time I loved.........aloneeeee". Something like that.
3. The scene where the racist Syed sings about how the Chinese are "bad", and see what they've done...blah blah..Basically there's a killed Malay boy, face down on the floor. He doesn't know it's his son, but you can all predict he's gonna go on til the end where he turns the kid and gets his shock. (wow totally didn't see that coming). It's not a great scene, but at least the part where he turns the kid over goes well with whatever he's singing (but I don't remember it).The other songs were just boring. I wish I could be nicer.
I walked out singing a song from Oliver! in my head. Which totally makes sense since I had just watched a musical and it inspired me to sing a song from another musical. yea. kinda like when you order a burger from a pizzeria, eat it, then walk out singing Mc D-O-N-A-L-DS!Good time,Great taasste, at McDonald's!
I mean, of course that's supposed to happen, right? pssh.

Conclusion: a. I loved the cast. If it weren't for their excellent performances, this would have been officially a flop. Because b. I hated the songs. Which beats the whole point in a musical. in my opinion. as Hardie my lecturer always says to add, to avoid being hyperbolic. and we want to be professional here don't we. yes we do.

Congratulations if you made it to this sentence without skimming. i love you and goodnight.
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UPDATE: Apparently the black and white outfits were meant to indicate that it was "olden times", like black and white tv. But weren't there other colored outfits too here and there? I remember a green kebaya. hm.

5 comments:

Bern_bern said...

Good review. You should be a musical/music critic or reviewist-can't remember what they're called. but yea, good points on the musical. i'm rather technical,so most of the time my attention was on the equipments and effects on and off stage. haha. so, did it inspire you to do better?

Anonymous said...

I have seen musical with many movements but those gestures are pure irritating and over reacting. You like those types? Are you sure you know what you are talking about?

Well, the musics definely can be improved.

joni lynne said...

ya bern, i was looking at the lighting and mics and imagining the BUDGET for our musical!!! crazy weii. somemore the script requires GOOD LIGHTING coz yknow how certain parts we need the spotlight to be clear and all? yikes...

joni lynne said...

to my anonymous friend: aihh.

AgreeWithYou said...

I agree. The music could have been better - the story too. But just some corrections - the composer did not study music overseas, or locally. From the program book, he doesn't even have a formal music training. Wonder why Joe Hasham actually let him write for this big budget musical. Maybe composing should be left to 'trained musicians' such as ourselves? All the best in your musical! Can't wait to see it.