Friday, June 15, 2012

REVIEW: Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know by The Hong Kong Singers

HK Rep Black Box Theatre, Sunday June 10 (matinee)

Secrets Every SMART THEATRE-GOER Should Know

Theatre Secret # 8
Don’t go to the opening night; especially with amateur dramatics (amdram) productions. With rising talent and theatre rental fees, even the professional ones are cutting back on rehearsals. In the case of amdram, opening night means dress rehearsal. This is why I went to the second to the last performance of this musical… oh, this doesn’t mean that the opening night of THIS production was not good by the way.

Theatre Secret # 15
Don’t go to amdram that are trying to pull off big musicals. My experience tells me that these productions tend to think that they have the right to be mediocre because they are amdram. They tend to spend their money on orchestras and costumes to compensate for the lack of talented massive cast and rehearsal time. Instead, go to revues like this, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know or the one before (also by The Hong Kong Singers) I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Yes, revues are not the highest form of musical, but it also doesn’t require the highest form of financial and manpower investment. With that, community theatres can focus on getting the smaller, but the right talents and arrange ample time to prepare for it. This latest HK Singers production was right on. It was small, gorgeously polished and most entertaining! As the saying goes, “It is not the size of the ship but the motion of the ocean” Though I personally prefer size and motion…

Theatre Secret # 18
Be wary of directorial debuts, unless the directors are Mandy Patinkin or Mandy Petty. Mandy Petty showed all the great signs of a good director in this show; she brought the magic out of the performers rather than forced the magic into the performers. Be it the allocation of songs and lines or the switch of a song (or two) originally sang by a male to female, all were done in the spirit of exploiting the gift of the performers in balance with the total outcome of the production. Being a dancer and choreographer herself, it must be most tempting to truly jazz up the blocking and dance steps, but she didn’t. Instead, she focused on simplicity, elegance and class; making her performers look comfortable, confident and focus on the very essence of performing. BRAVA!

Theatre Secret# 37
Check out who are performing. While it is exciting to gamble and discover the new sensational actor, nothing else beats good value for money than tried and tested actors. It is true that practice makes perfect, the more the actors hone their craft, the better they get. In this performance, the cast was very good, but Moe Moss did stand out. Moe Moss was the only one in the cast that was able to truly delineate and differentiate her characters vertically (from one character to the other) and horizontally (from her character to the other characters in a scene); therefore underscoring the beauty and potency of the revue format.

Theatre Secret #39
Beware of revues. Yes, I did recommend going to revues in Secret# 15, but I thought that you should also know that revues happen to offer the easiest way to cut numbers. So, instead of getting the full revue, some amdrams (for various reasons) will cut a number or two. The good news is that the cut numbers (unlike in a Sondheim musical) will most probably not affect your comprehension of the story because… there’s no story in revues, but instead just an overriding theme. In the case of this show, The HK Singers opted to cut the numbers “Customs” (song a man complains in lofty contempt why he is being questioned by the customs) and “Paradise Found” (song detailing the limited pleasures found in vacationing in Uzbekistan). It is most pitiful though that it was these two sophisticated and funny numbers that were cut! I would rather they didn’t or if they really needed to cut two songs, I wish it was “Hertz” and “Aging Planes”.

Theatre Secret #44
Location, location, location. The success of this performance is also due to the fact that the production fit beautifully with the venue. A good production either choose the right venue or design around the venue. It was definitely the cherry on the icing on the cake.

*By the way, the above Secrets were chosen based on Mark 6 result of the date of this performance.

Secrets every Smart Traveler Should Know
A Musical Comedy Revue
The Hong Kong Singers production
June 6th – 10th 2012

HK Rep Black Box Theatre
8/F Sheung Wan Civic Centre

Production Team:
Director: Mandy Petty
Music Director: Scott Gibson
Producer: Vanessa Lee

Cast include:
Matthew Gillespie
Paul Hay
Shareen Sing
Jaime Ignacio
Moe Moss
Talia Ritz
Micha Sparrow

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