Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chronicles of An Ipoh Girl

Last Sunday, I ventured to the KLPac again to watch Low Ngai Yuen's latest effort: The Girl From Ipoh.

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The Girl From Ipoh Poster

Having been (slightly) disappointed with the recent Pygmalion, I tried to keep my expectations low....

... and when I sat down in the KLPac theater and heard the starting bits of the play in all its typical Manglish glory, my heart dropped and I thought: "Oh God. Not another round of "oooi, wah lau wei... look at me! I'm so oliginal cos I'm like, so "Malaysian"-lah" in shrill Ah Lian tones.

However, the play really surprised me.
First of all, it had a delightfully simple story line:

The protaganist of the play is Wong Mei Lee, the daughter of a noodle seller. Starting from her humble roots in Ipoh, a town famous for its pretty girls and delicious food, the chubby Mei Lee tries to dream of a way out....

... away from her conflicted attachments to being Chinese...
... away from her cold father...
... away from her the constraints of her fat body...

Imagining herself to look like her ideal self, a woman like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (specifically here, as Carmen Soo, dressed in pretty, pretty dresses by award winning designer Melinda Looi), she plods through life seeking love and a life more extraordinary then her bleak beginnings....

Along the way, the play examines thought-provoking themes. As the publicity write-ups put it: “The play explores an issue that plagues many – when is a Chinese person not Chinese enough? Does speaking English without sounding Chinese make them a traitor to their culture? Or does speaking "mat salleh" sounding Chinese make them an abomination to the race? Does liking everything Western mean a degradation of everything that is Asian?”
(It also touched on very adult topics on love and s3x)

The Girl from Ipoh features Carmen Soo in the title role, who is cast alongside:

  • Lee Swee Keong as her father (brilliant job! he was perfect as the roughneck, ass-scratching noodle seller),
  • Actor-model Tony Eusoff as the dream guy (also really good - he did the "geek" part really well), and
  • Season Chee as the @sshole boyfriend (wah, what passion for his role - he (appeared to) strip down to his birthday stage right there on stage for the bedroom scene!).

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Carmen Soo, in all her glory...

One of the most interesting features here is that the cast is joined by an all female a cappella choir playing the role of Mei Lee's conscience.

Under the direction of LiT Performers co-founder Penny Low, the choir comprises eight talented women.
(Angie Teoh, Anrie Too, Fang Chyi, Nor Hazlin Nor Salam, Colleen Daphne, Priscilla Wong, Karen Tay and Penny Low herself)
(The LiT Performers don't have an official website of their own, but you can find out where they're performing from their managing company's website, Intergrated Expresssions.)

“(They) are actually the villain of the play,” explained Ngai Yuen in a recent interview. “The choir is not a chorus in the Greek sense, they are part of the action, representing different sides of the lead character. The eight a cappella singers who will be on stage together represent the inner workings of Mei Lee’s mind.”

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The Angelic Voices

As evil as they were supposed to be, I really liked the singing... The a cappela was done really well, with a mix of eclectic mix songs from "Under the Boardwalk" to classic Chinese folk songs to "Barbie Girl"....

The set was also, like the play, simple yet well put together.... It's amazing, with hardly any prop changes throughout the entire 2 and a half hours, the stark white set, contrasted with black paintings and a clever use of the lighting, failed to bore.

To sum it all up: Great story + Great acting + Great singing + Great set = Great play = Very Happy J

It would seem that many, many others agree with my view, cos at the end of the night The Girl From Ipoh was heralded with a standing ovation from the audience members (a full house too, the first time I've ever seen the KLpac theatre so packed)....

(And you know what? They deserve every bit of the applause)

(Good work ppl! Keep it up!)

:)



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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi hi hi
just to inform u that lit performers will be at actors studio bangsar this sunday with another pop a cappella - girls just wanna have fun... do come and watch us. it is produced by integrated expressions with music director penny low

J said...

to anonymous:
Sorry that I didn't see your message much earlier...
(Oh man.... my bad!)

Feel free to drop comments on upcoming events here anytime though.
:)

Anonymous said...

I was an supportive fans of Low Ngai Yuen, i follow up her tv programs, show, all events she participate, i love to read about her great parenting job to her 3 wonderful kids & how succussfully her handle her career and family.
But recently i was so disappointed to heard that she has a sister who just destroyed people marriage, how come, i really cannot believe it, is it true?

Celine

J said...

to anonymous Celine:
Well, good that you support her so much (both in her work and admiring her personal life).

No idea about her sister! Maybe it's just a rumour? Maybe it's true?

In any case, even if it were true, how can anyone put the weight of the sister's actions on Ngai Yuen? - they are 2 separate ppl entirely, right? :)

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