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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Cantopop: The legends' stories and showbiz

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Legends readies up a musical documentary on Cantopop's four biggest stars.

HOMEGROWN theatre institution Dama Orchestra is aiming for the bright lights with its upcoming production The Legends, which is set to hit the stage at KLPac in Kuala Lumpur starting June 7.

Previous full-scale Dama Orchestra shows have been mostly Shanghai shidaiqu affairs (favourites from the 1930s to 1960s) and also several flips through the pages of Teresa Teng's Mandopop songbook (from 1970s/80s). Next up all eyes will be on Hong Kong's pop darlings and the Cantopop scene from the 1980s. That's the backstory behind Dama's The Legends.

The 1980s saw the beginning of the golden age of Cantopop, when flamboyant Hong Kong pop stars dominated the colourful Chinese entertainment scene.

Cry me a river: Dama Orchestra darling Tan Soo Suan will be taking on some of Anita Mui's hits in the upcoming production The Legends at KLPac in Kuala Lumpur.

Cry me a river: Dama Orchestra darling Tan Soo Suan will be taking on some of Anita Mui's hits in the upcoming production The Legends at KLPac in Kuala Lumpur.

For its first major production this year, Dama Orchestra has decided to pay tribute to these cultural icons with The Legends, which features a local cast rolling out a celebration of songs and stories from Cantopop icons like Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, Danny Chan and Roman Tam.

A project of Dama's 20th anniversary celebration, The Legends is designed as a song-and-dance concert musical show with English narration.

The show will revisit the hit songs from these stars while the audience can enjoy a retelling of their showbiz stories, struggles, fame, relationships and hitmaking.

The Legends, in short, will dig deeper into the careers of these stars. And the audience can expect a deft mix of stories and showbiz.

A total of 25 Cantopop hit songs will be dispatched during the two-hour-long show (divided into two acts).

Some of the classics include Cheung's A Chinese Ghost Story, Mui's Break The Iceberg, Tam's Legend Of Dagger Li, and Chan's Encore.

"These are HK megastars with so many hits and good songs. We could never do an exhaustive programme because individually, each act could standalone on their own," says Pun Kai Loon, Dama Orchestra artistic director, about the stageside songlist.

The idea was to narrow down the setlist – with key songs – yet give the audience a snapshot of the actual pop star lives behind the celebrity and pop charts.

Nothing like the entire cast of The Legends hitting the stage to thrill the masses with the Cantopop retro blast.

Nothing like the entire cast of The Legends hitting the stage to thrill the masses with the Cantopop retro blast.

"What we are trying to do in this concert (series) is to give flavour to their contributions, as well as to highlight the spirit of their work. So, what we have done is to narrow down our selection to songs that were pivotal in their respective careers ... insightful tunes in terms of understanding them as performers and individuals," adds Pun.

As an example, he mentioned how Anita Mui started performing as a child and had already 10 years of stage experience behind her when she was "discovered."

For The Legends show, the main cast features singers Tan Soo Suan, Terence Au, Bui Yik Ling, Khoo Wu Ji, Kong Jie Wei, Lim Yee Fen, and Tan Soo Tze. Dancers Leslie Cheng, Gigi Chiam, Dorothy Foo, Rich Mah, Ben Gee, Jojo Wong, Rickyy Wong and Alice Yee have the support roles.

Unlike most tributes, music director Khor Seng Chew said that The Legends will not have any one singer playing a fixed role, as he felt no one could step into their shoes.

"The show will not be divided into four segments, with each featuring one artiste. Instead the songs have been picked to flow with the storyline."

Since The Legends is a musical theatre piece, Khor worked on new arrangements and transformed the evergreen hits to give them more contemporary appeal.

"For example, Leslie Cheung's In A Sentimental Past, I felt would be better as a trio (Soo Tze, Bui and Lim) and Danny Chan's The Meaning Of Life was made into a quartet piece (Bui, Lim, Khoo and Au). The spirit of the songs remain, but they have a fresher edge now," says Khor.

Dama regular Soo Suan will be taking on popular numbers like Chan's Take Care Tonight, Mui's Heart Debt and Intimate Lovers and Tam's When Tomorrow Comes and Family.

There will also be group numbers that will see the whole company of 15 performers hitting the stage. As for showbiz glam and choreography, this is will be a blast to watch.

"Since none of the performers are native Cantonese speakers, we roped in Chinese dialect coach Lee Jin Wen to help the singers work on their Cantonese pronunciation," says Pun.

After a roll through the hits and drama at the show's recent preview, we're happy to report that nothing has been lost in translation.

The Legends will run at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur from June 7 to June 22. Tickets are priced between RM68 to RM288. For more info, call the box-office (03 4047-9000) or visit www.ticketpro.com.my.

The Print Room: Body language

Posted: 31 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Print Room's latest exhibition explores the whole notion of the human form.

Nudity. Stark, sensual, blatant. Those descriptions do come to mind when it comes to celebrating the human form. It is a complex – often forbidden – subject in some circles. Everybody has an opinion when the word "body" is mentioned in relation to photography, or through similar artful mediums.

When English photographer Paul Gadd, the director of The Print Room in Petaling Jaya in Selangor, revealed the theme of his gallery's then upcoming exhibition, he said people took it with a pinch of salt.

"We had some problems because as soon as you mentioned the word 'body', people sort of backed off, thinking nudity was involved. But that was not the case. You can represent the body however you want," explained Gadd.

And that is exactly what the gallery's latest photography exhibition called Body set out to do. When you walk into the exhibition space, you would probably pause momentarily and muse. Slowly, your perception on the whole topic will begin to take another form and you will realise that nudity is not the be all and end all, after all.

Featuring the works of 11 photographers, including three South Koreans, the exhibition mostly moves away from the ubiquitous naked human form, and looks at the subject matter rather differently. The group exibition features works by Gadd, Koh Yeo Myoung, Melissa Lim, Linda Chin, Kim Do Han, Lisa Foo, Phes, Johan Hamidon, Gaithiri Siva, Shung Yen and Kwon Hyuk Min. This exhibition, which is The Print Room's first this year, challenges the whole notion of body and endeavours to depict different facets of it.

"We tried to represent the body without being too obvious and blatant about it," asserted Gadd.

What's more, all the photographs in Body were shot using film, which is the signature format of The Print Room.

Nature #3 (Phoebe)

Nature#3 by Phes

The results are both stunning and intriguing. Take for instance the series of photographs by Melissa Lim. Using light and shadow, Lim stripped away the complexities of the human body and focused instead on its simplicity. The silhouetted human frame – reminiscent of the "shower curtain scene" in the movie Psycho – is shown through a muslin sheet.

"From behind the muslin emerges a silhouette that conveys a sense of drama, emotion, freedom and mystery, allowing one's imagination to wander and ponder," said Lim.

Linda Chin, on the other hand, shot oysters for her Venus series. At first glance, they may appear as nothing more than oysters but the allusion comes across more clearly later on.

"The Venus series aims to highlight the individuality of the human body, and the position that no one should be pressured to conform to unrealistic expectations imposed by those around them," stated Chin.

Lisa Foo's series Discover The Full Body is also a highlight. Her work is printed on blocks of wood, which added the element of art installation into this exhibition space for the first time. By using liquid light, as we found out, film photographers can use different surfaces instead of paper to bring their images to life.

Gadd's own series, called RGB, referring to the three primary colours in light (red, green and blue), is a vibrant rush of photographic instinct and technique. Depicting only body outlines, Gadd added a new filter for every shot, creating new colours and giving a three dimensional sense to a two dimensional image.

Some images even looked like a steam-punk version of a Picasso painting.

The enigma of the body – seen through the eyes of these talented photographers – is too hard to resist and so is this exhibition.

Body is on at The Print Room (49, Lorong 16/9E, Section 16, Petaling Jaya, Selangor) till June 15. Open weekends from 2pm to 7pm. On weekdays, the show is open for viewing by appointment. Call 012 337 2903, log on to theprintroomkl.com or e-mail info@theprintroomkl.com.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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