King’s Malaysian Society Presents ‘Flavours- The Musical’

 

Courtesy of KCLMS

Courtesy of KCLMSoc

Directed by Zheng Xi Yong and produced by Yan Tong and Mao Fong Lim, the KCL Malaysian society’s musical depicted a touching story of two siblings who have seemingly unattainable ambitions. The children of ‘Nasi Lemak’ shop owners, they are initially imprisoned by their father’s patriarchal views and their family’s financial instability. Presented in a style, which was tense and touching, but also intermingled with comedic ingenuity, the director masterfully created a good balance between the lighthearted and serious which left us wondering what next? We became intimately acquainted with the characters as we followed the siblings as they paved their future paths through times of sorrow and joy. A story which many fellow Malaysians can relate to.

The musical opened with an introduction of the play’s characters through a chorus-like ensemble, all of whom were very fitting for their roles. We see the dumb and banal brother Adam (Sze Jing Chuah) who wishes to stick to traditional roots and become a chef, the fiery and fiercely ambitious Anna (Alicia Yoon) who desires a more modern route to higher education abroad.  Anna’s overly caring mother (Stephenie Ong), their orthodox and blunt father (Nazrin Pengiran) and finally, to the sweet and hopelessly in love Stanley (Yik Ming Boey). Often singing about his intense love for Anna in a pensive and gentle manner, one can identify him as the musical’s Romeo. However, the disparate behaviors between the characters inevitably result in clashes and the unrequited love affair can only end awkwardly.

Courtesy of Tien Eu Min

Courtesy of Tien Eu Min

There was great character development and we became emotionally invested in the characters; something that the musical took advantage of and artfully manipulated. This was apparent in the cries of delight and discontentment from the interactive audience. The contrast between the heartrending scenes and comedic ones, as well as the sudden shattering of melancholy for a moment of comedy increased the intensity of emotions in each scene and made the musical a gripping experience.  We saw the classically cheesy moments between Stanley and Anna and we recall moments between ourselves and our high school crushes; situations which we love and hate. The hilarious conduct of the mother at Anna’s prize giving ceremony was equally priceless as we see Stephenie Ong play the ignorant mother, interrupting halfway through the speech, snapping pictures of Anna on her embarrassingly large iPad, calling the principal by her first name and cat-calling her daughter’s admirer. These scenes are contrasted with the clamorous and acrimonious clashes between the siblings and their parents and thus adds to the glom of the scene, like the cruelly cold hearted reproach the mother receives from Anna after the ceremony.

The music was well executed and produced, the musicians played a variety of different genres including traditional Malaysian styles.  There was an excellent voice balance between the characters, especially the opening number and the scholarship song. Each reflected the mood of the scene like the beautifully melodious yet haunting lullaby ‘Why?’ which the mother sings because of her anguish at her daughter’s heartless rejection of her. The alternately quick and hard beats against its delicate melody echo her grieved heart and at the same time, her unconditional love for her daughter.

Courtesy of Tien Eu Min

Courtesy of Tien Eu Min

The staging was meticulously thought out, with convincing set design and detail. The placement of objects was cleverly placed to create a good stage dynamic and the effective use of lighting really encapsulated the emotions of each scene.

The play finished with Anna’s successful obtainment of a scholarship and we see her about to depart, the cast sang ‘goodbye for now’ which gave the musical a very apt ending. The fourth wall could not have been broken in a more inventive manner: just as our families at home will always be there for us, the same goes for the Malaysian society at KCL, who will always be there for you here.

Courtesy of Tien Eu Min

Courtesy of Tien Eu Min

Watching ‘Flavours’ was an intense and emotional experience, we shared the characters’ joys and sorrows and we experienced Malaysian culture and life through their stimulating performance, music and dance. With excellent actors and actresses all of whom were talented singers and dancers, along with the skillful use of lighting, stage design and melodic songs. ‘Flavours’ is a musical which will (definitely) leave you wanting more.

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