Language is no barrier in appreciating the arts.
Directed by Joe Hasham with a cast and crew from different backgrounds, the musical is translated on stage with action and passion – making it possible for audience from non-Cantonese speaking backgrounds to get the essence of the tale of dreams, hope, friendship and revenge.
The tale that spans 40 years is masterfully woven and told in a contemporary style by composer Lim Chuang Yik and lyricist Teng Ky-Gan, the duo who came up with multi-award winning Broken Bridges - with Mervyn Peters as musical director.
Paper Crane revolves around Ah Kit (Roax Tan) whose lifelong dream is to be the next opera star Mei Lanfang. He is supported by his love interest Fei Mui (Lee Elaine) and loyal friend Siu Ngau (Ho Soon Yoon) but is deeply resented by arch rival Fui Koh (Colin Kirton). Caught between all this is the troupe manager, played by Patrick Teoh, who hired both Ah Kit and Fui Koh and who also happens to be Fei Mui’s father.
The production’s backstage perspective on the world of Cantonese opera reflects the universal truth about the rise and fall of talents, often seen in the entertainment industry. For some it is a lucky break while others have to slog before finding a spot at the top. Regardless of how one gets there, it is only time before tides change once again.
Presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat, the bilingual musical works out well in a country like Malaysia, where majority of its population speak a minimum of two languages. With the scene by scene descriptions given out before the performance, it is relatively easy to figure out what is happening on stage.
Roax Tan (I Am Not My Pimple, Paper House) did a convincing job as the protagonist Ah Kit, giving the audience a chance to relate to him as a wannabe actor before he accidentally becomes the troupe’s sweetheart. His love interest Fei Mui is played sweetly by Lee Elaine, on the theatre stage for the first time. The student of Classical Music charmed audiences with her singing, but it would have been good if we got to hear more of her sweet voice.
Colin Kirton (Crazy Little Thing Called Love, P Ramlee The Musical) certainly was the right choice for the character Fui Koh, with his tall, leading-man frame. A natural playing the character everyone loves to hate, he proved his skills in acting and singing. One character who stole the spotlight was Siu Ngau, played wittily by Ho Soon Yoon (Broken Bridges, Broadway Bites) who thrilled audience with his comical antics and good vocals. Patrick Teoh’s small role as manager managed to pull on the heartstrings in his last scene while both Amelia Tan (as Ah Mah) and Kimmy Kiew (Fanny Cheh) did well as their alter-egos in their small roles.
Personally, the best elements in this production is how the different concepts – the traditional set, contemporary style of music, the bilingual dialogue and songs, combine well together. The one hour and 45 minute production is paced well and songs like ‘How The Heaven Moved’ and ‘All You Need Is This Bowl’ have a Broadway quality to them. The ensemble is lively and their choreography by Lex Lakshman works throughout both acts.
For those in and around Kuala Lumpur, the show runs at KLPac until the end of the week. After that you’ll have to go to Penang to appreciate the artistic endeavours of this cast and crew. Adult tickets start at RM40 to RM110. Find out showtimes on www.klpac.org, call 03-4047 9000 (KLPac), 04-8991722 (Penang Pac) or purchase online at iLasso Tickets.
Theatre Review: Paper Crane Flies High
[img src=http://www.vanityshack.my/wp-content/flagallery/theatre-review-paper-crane-flies-high/thumbs/thumbs_papercrane02.jpg]00Lee Elaine & Cast of Paper Crane
[img src=http://www.vanityshack.my/wp-content/flagallery/theatre-review-paper-crane-flies-high/thumbs/thumbs_papercrane03.jpg]00Lee Elaine, Patrick Teoh & Cast
[img src=http://www.vanityshack.my/wp-content/flagallery/theatre-review-paper-crane-flies-high/thumbs/thumbs_papercrane04.jpg]00Roax Tan, Ho Soon Yoon, Lee Elaine & Cast
- What We Liked
Holding hands watching television.