‘Paper Crane review’  by Dennis Lee, StageKL Aug01

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‘Paper Crane review’ by Dennis Lee, StageKL

How much would you give in just to become famous and successful? Your time, effort or perhaps the love of your life? While for Ah Kit’s case, he gave his everything.

Paper Crane is a brand new musical that tells the story of a young and aspiring boy, Ah Kit and his riveting journey to stardom in the Cantonese opera world back in the 1970s.

Directed by Joe Hasham OAM and produced by Dato’ Faridah Merican, Paper Crane was a brave move by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat because it is a bi-lingual musical production where dialogues and songs were carried in both Cantonese and English.

Lining up with an energetic and talented ensemble from newcomers to veterans like Patrick Teoh, Colin Kirton, Roax Tan, Lee Elaine, Amelia Tan, Ho Soon Yoon and Kimmy Kiew, every cast seemed to fit perfectly to their roles in the musical.

Featuring multi-award winning writers, the book and music were written by Lim Chuang Yik and Teng Ky-Gan, Mervyn Peters as the music director, Shingo Tokihiro as the costume designer and Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan as the choreographer.

The story started in a Cantonese opera troupe, Ah Kit (played by Roax Tan) joined the troupe as an assistant and he dreamed of the day he would become the biggest and brightest star. He became best friend with playful Siu Ngau (played by Ho Soon Yoon) and fell in love with the troupe manager’s (played by Patrick Teoh) beautiful daughter Fei Mui (played by Lee Elaine).

Ah Kit trained very hard everyday but no matter how he tried to avoid it, troubles seemed to be around him all the time and he ended up becoming the biggest enemy of established star Fui Koh (played by Colin Kirton).

With that one chance, Ah Kit took center stage replacing the injured Fui Koh. His hard work paid off and his fame shot through the roof instantly. Fame changed his personality and the people that were once closed to him left him one by one.

Fast forward to decades later, Ah Kit became the star that he has always dreamt of but the price that he paid has haunted him in every step he took.

The story was so touching to the point that I shed tears three times during the show.

The acting skill of all the main characters were totally incredible. Special mention must go to Amelia Tan who played the mother of Ah Kit. I’ve seen her in another play I Am Not My Pimples and she blew my mind away every single time. It was a pity her role in Paper Crane was not emphasised enough to portray the mother and son relationship.

Other than the mother and son relationship was underdeveloped, the romantic interest between Ah Kit and Fei Mui seemed to be in a rush too, while Siu Ngau’s crush on Fei Mui seemed to disappeared half way through.

Colin Kirton, played the role of Fui Koh did an amazing job as the villain of the story. His character was very convincing that his aura can be felt on and off the stage.

The music has been very well written. The catchy melodies and beautiful lyrics cleverly captured the essence of the story. However, most of the songs were half in Cantonese and the other half in English. Personally, the Cantonese part sounded more natural to me as the English lyrics were too simple.

The lead actor Roax Tan has done very well even though he is not a professionally trained singer. He seemed having trouble sustaining his voice especially in the second act.

On the other hand, lead actress Lee Elaine was the strongest singer among all. Although she is a theatre first-timer, she stole the hearts of the audience every time her beautiful voice soared through the air. Her well-trained classical voice was sweet and crisp it made the musical a lot more entertaining to watch.

The stage set was simple yet impressively built to depict the back of the opera stage. Choreography was predictable as I’ve seen the same moves being used again and again in different productions while the wooden clog dance was a clever touch.

The show dropped the curtain with an emotionally and thought-provoking ending. Overall, it has shown remarkable entertainment value as a musical production especially in music and story-telling. It is definitely a highly recommended show to watch.

Source from: StageKL