The two musicals: A contrasting level of night entertainment

Hey guys;

As promised, here is a post where I go into more detail about the two musicals I mentioned in my last post…

The first musical was held on July 5th. It’s basically an adaptation of the movie Mean Girls. I decided to book a front row, VIP seat, hoping that the proximity to the stage would not force me to zoom in when filming with my iPhone, but turns out I do still need to zoom in nonetheless. There weren’t many audience, but is mainly because of another event downstairs. In fact the auditorium still seems pretty quiet, even just a few minutes before the musical starts.

In terms of the general theme of this musical…well, it’s more or less about a typical high school life. I’m sure you know what this means. Rumors, jokes and boyfriend/girlfriend. This musical is basically an entire school year compressed into like 23-24 scenes.

Actually this was the musical that I’ve been observing the development process, right from the auditions. This has enabled me to see for myself how difficult it is to put together a one-hour musical within a short span of time. Let’s be real, seven or eight weeks with only two practice sessions per week is barely enough to put together a perfect musical. But in the end the result was still an enjoyable piece of performance…

When the development workshop kicked off, things appeared to be pretty smooth, except for the fact that the crew was not able to find enough males to play the role of two male characters. But this was more or less solved by having one girl play the role of a male character. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be any real issues. Yes, people do not fully memorize their lines and at any given session there would be missing casts, but those were not real concerns, at least up until the midterm exams period.

After the midterm exams, however, these became a more pressing issue as the performance date closes in, particularly memorizing lines. Missing casts during practice sessions seems to be less of an issue after the directors firmly tell the cast that they must attend every practice sessions unless if they’re sick or have exams. The health of the cast also became an issue as some of the cast members fell ill close to the performance date (yeah, blame the weather and global warming for that). In fact this became so much of an issue that the directors considered replacing one of the cast members since that person failed to show up for the session on July 3rd, which is just two days before the real performance. In the end that person showed up the following day…

But even so, memorizing lines is still an issue. Even on the day of the full dress rehearsal, some people still do not fully memorize their lines.

When the real performance came, flaws became immediately evident. For some reason, microphones weren’t turned off or at least muted between scenes and so everyone can hear the casts talking, even if they were talking pretty quietly.

But regardless, the musical is still pretty enjoyable, despite setbacks during the development process. The musical has many scenes, but they were relatively short.

Now, let’s move on to the second musical…

The second musical took place on July 11th. As this was done by a drama class, I did not get to see the development process. But the result was…um, amazing. This musical was an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and so includes songs from the movie. I decided not to book a front row seat because, from my experience with the Mean Girls musical, I do still have to zoom in when filming in order to see the stage clearly. And…I must say, the seat I was given was not quite bad at all. Unlike the Mean Girls musical, the auditorium was packed with people right when the doors opened at 5:30PM.

As for the general theme of this musical…I don’t think I can find any, but there is one theme that stands out, and that is gambling. This musical showcases what could happen when gambling is taken to its extreme. And I assume the definition of extreme as portrayed in this musical is…using humans as bets. Yeah, in this musical gambling is portrayed in a form so extreme that a father turns to betting on his daughter, most likely after losing everything else (money, house, valuables, etc). And…eventually, the father suffers a truely sad death, right in front of his daughter.

Right from the first scene, it is clear that this musical is way, way more sophisticated than the Mean Girls musical. There were sound effects, and more wide usage of colored lights to create an almost realistic backdrop that matches with the scene. Perhaps the most impressive feature is that, in a scene where Beauty learns that her father has gambled her in a card game and loss, there was a cloud of bright light that follows her as she walks across the stage to her father. Pretty impressive! I wonder if this was computer-controlled or human-controlled. If human-controlled, the person who controls this light cloud must be very well trained because the movement of the light seems to be perfectly synchronized with Beauty’s movement in that scene.

And…it’s not just lights, throughout a number of scenes there were background soundtracks, which really does help in amplifying the existing emotions in that scene. For example, in a scene where Beauty’s father died, the sad/depressing tone of the background soundtrack helps to amplify the already sad and depressing emotion of the scene as Beauty’s father dies in front of her. And…you know, that scene is still in my head. This just shows how powerful background soundtracks can be when trying to amplify the emotion within a scene…

The Beauty and the Beast musical, overall, I must say, is really enjoyable and very well staged. The sophistication of the performance pretty much puts the Mean Girls musical a week earlier to shame, especially the fact that this Beauty and the Beast musical took roughly the same amount of time as the Mean Girls musical to prepare. Everything about the second musical is just…perfect and I really enjoy it.

So…yeah, that was the post going into detail the two musicals…next post will shift focus to the two off-campus trip.

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