Wednesday, September 18, 2013

REVIEW: My Queer Valentine by Rick Lau

Fringe Club Underground Theatre, Saturday September 14

I had the chance to see this show before (must be 2009)… and when my friend Michael offered me some tickets for this 3-day run, I quickly grabbed it!

Overall, the impression is that the show has improved remarkably…the way the stage was set up and especially, the performance of Rick Lau. I have always thought that Lau is a singing actor (think Angela Lansbury or Rex Harrison); but then this latest experience has made me re-evaluate that notion. Lau turned in a vocally outstanding performance for what he called “a niche within a niche” world of a cabaret show about being gay.

The show was more polished than before and it was amazing at how little and simple improvements brought lucidity in message and fluidity in programme flow. According to Lau, all the songs of the evening were written by gay people. By that, I assume what he meant was that either the lyrics and/or the song are written and/or composed by a gay person… unless he knows something about Richard Rodgers or Antonio Carlos Jobim that I don’t.

The choice of songs for the show was impeccable in combining the familiar with less familiar. Having said that, Lau was more effective in the funny songs, be it bitching in “The Boy From Fire Island”, or being a homophobic in “Lookin’ at Me”, or just be an animated story-teller in “And the Ship Sails On”. On the serious side, I found his interpretation of “Yard Sale” disturbingly creepy, this time or even before, it lacked the somberness of the situation highlighting a period when being HIV+ was a death sentence.

The show has started to show its age though with songs like “Dear Dad” where Lau scribbles franticly on a small piece of paper informing his dad that he is gay… and I can’t help wonder whether an iPad or a WhatsApp may seem more in tune with the time. I still think that performing the gay anthem “I Am What I Am” was a bit too much and obvious, while I am glad that the show finished with the more universal theme of “My Funny Valentine”.

My Queer Valentine
Underground Theatre, Hong Kong Fringe Club
12-14 September 2013

It's A Fine Life (Lionel Bart)
The Boy From Fire Island (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Fred Ebb)
The Art Teacher (Rufus Wainwright)
Lookin' at Me (Ben Schaechter)
盼望的緣份 (陳百強, 鄭國江)
It's Alright With Me (Cole Porter)
What More Can I Say (William Finn)
Fat As I Am (Marc Shaiman, Bette Midler, Jerry Blatt)
Quiet Love (Charles Aznavour, Fred Ebb)
Yard Sale (Tom Andersen)
And The Ship Sails On (Kirby Tepper)
Dear Dad (Eric Lane Barnes)
I Am What I Am (Jerry Herman)
My Funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)

Rick Lau (performer)
Rick Lau & Tony Taylor (concept)
Tony Taylor & Yuri Ng (direction)
Alan Chan (musical direction & accompaniment)
Leo Siu (lighting design)

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