Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Georgette: the Feedback

The musical's been absurdly well-received. Kenneth Lyen's provided a run-down of comments from the feedback forms:

"As the flood of congratulations kept on pouring in, the comments that kept on repeating themselves were, firstly, Seong Hui Xuan looked uncannily like Georgette, and secondly, this is one of the best, if not the best, Singapore musicals. Here are some quotations: "Ng Yi-Sheng's lyrics are multi-layered, intelligent, and captured the subtle shifts in emotions." "Clement Yang's music perfectly expressed the humor, the love, the pathos, the conflicts, and above all, the sadness." "I cried at the end of the first act, and again when the father sang the eulogy." "I wanted the musical to go on longer, I didn't want it to end." "Unquestionably, Georgette is a landmark Singapore musical." "This musical is part of National Education, and should be seen by all Singapore schools."

Ampulet's blog: "Later that day, J and I overcame our dislike of musicals and watched

Georgette, a musical by a young writer and a team of "volunteer"/amateur performers. It was surprisingly enjoyable - well-paced, clever funny lyrics, and a spirited performance by the cast."

Lecter's Blog: "A musical. An artist and her romance. A turbulent time and a bowl of fruit. A good performance, a good evening. Georgette worth its admission. Viva La Musical Theatre Limited!"

TimeMaker's Blog: "
The production team isn't exactly world famous. But what caught my attention is the subject of the musical. Georgette Chen is one of the pioneer artists of Singapore. If you didn't know that, then you are probably not in the fine arts circle. I think she was also one of my father's teachers at NAFA. Personally, I like her painting style. But that is no guarantee on the quality of the musical. The more adventurous can give this show a try. If not for anything else, at least you get to learn more about one of Singapore's important art personalities."

Even my friend who gave up watching part of the Federer-Nadal match in the French Open finals, admitted that he was glad he did not miss Georgette. Please allow me to congratulate everyone involved in this brilliant musical! Well done!!!!

Nice, huh? And we've got it in writing too, with a review in the Business Times:

Homegrown musical with great potential
by Charmian Kok
Business Times Monday June 11, 2007

Exploring the life and influences of one of Singapore's most established artists is never an easy task to being with. However, for a relatively small-scale, no-frills musical like Georgette the Musical , writer Ng Yi-Sheng managed to spin a story that is both entertaining and engaging.

Created as part of Musical Theatre Limited's Five Foot Broadway musical incubation programme, Georgette the Musical is based on the life of China-born artist Georgette Chen, and largely centres on the love story with her first husband Eugene Chen.

In the opening act, we are first introduced to Georgette as a Woman on the Wall -- a self-portrait displayed on stage, and also the musical's opening song. From this somewhat serious mood, the scene changes to that of a bustling modern Paris, where Georgette moves to pursue her studies in art. The ensemble cast delivers a playful song, Modern World which sets the light-hearted tone of the first half.

Composer Clement Yang and music director Chris Nolan both did a commendable job, creating a repertoire of songs that drives the plot and provides a window into the characters' world of cross-cultural clashes and modernisation -- especially in the first half of the musical.

The question of East vs West, for example, was explored in a memorable scene set in the house of Georgette's parents -- a privileged and wealthy couple -- over a traditional Chinese dinner. Don't cross your chopsticks , goes the song, describing a long list of Chinese etiquette, that ends with a heated argument between feisty, unconventional Georgette and her more traditional parents.

In the second half of the musical, the theme of clashing cultures was revisited but in a more serious setting -- the communist revolution in China. The romance between Georgette and Eugene also takes on a darker mood, as they get engulfed in the tragic events of the Japanese Occupation.

Seong Hui Xuan, who plays Georgette, brings a vivacious energy to the stage, drawing out the non-conformist aspects of the late artist with conviction. However, the love story between Georgette and Eugene, while touching at times, felt rather undeveloped and somewhat unconvincing. Still, if Seong's portrayal of the romantic side of Georgette lacked tenderness, she did compensate to an extent with some heartfelt singing.

Overall, the musical was more successful in its comical, light-hearted first half, and fell short of delivering the weightier issues of the second half.

Though musicals tend to be lighthearted, works like Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables show that the darker side of life can be explored successfully as well; in this respect, more could have been done to explore the tragedy of Georgette's romance and deeper aspects of her character.

Nevertheless, Georgette the Musical is a surprisingly enjoyable homegrown musical. This engaging Singapore story about a passionate woman and pioneering artist has great potential for further development.

3 comments:

Sally said...

yes, very nice. happy for you. more to come :)

Ng Yi-Sheng said...

Thanks! I might be writing something about her student, Ng Eng Teng.

SHANNON(: said...

HEYHEY(:

Shannon here! i'll be taking part in the musical workshop which will showcase this musical, can't wait!

till then!