“A Woman at War” at Gala/Finals Night! A Thank You to Everyone

My mini-musical “A Woman at War”, I found out late last night, made it to the gala/finals night at Short & Sweet Musical KL this evening, Oct 5, at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. As this post goes live, the show will just be starting. Break a leg, everyone!

I had very little to do with getting the show to this point. After all, I’m just the writer and composer – and the composition I wrote was just a frame of a house in which my co-composer, Laura Danneker, came along and added all the wiring, plumbing, and windows in order to turn it into a solid structure.

This team of theatre arts enthusiasts came along and turned our solid structure into a beautiful home. I am very grateful.

I submitted our work to the S&S assessors this past summer and the musical was short-listed for production. They asked if I had anyone in mind who wanted to produce it. I didn’t. And since I live in Penang and the show in is KL, I knew I wouldn’t be involved with the actual process of putting this together. They asked if husband-wife team Alvin Looi and Karynn Tan could do it. I agreed. I had never met either of them before. They, themselves, had written another musical for the show but were not producing it. They also had never directed a musical before, but had both been involved in the theatre scene over the last couple years

After I have seen the hard-work and passion they have put into “A Woman at War”, I am extremely glad that they are the ones who decided to produce it. They:

  • rearranged the songs to suit their production
  • they found two talented leads (wonderful Vivian Chan and Boon-Kit)
  • they found four musicians, some of whom had to be driven home an hour of their way after rehearsals
  • Alvin received permission from his place of employment to have rehearsal there. (Thank you!)
  • They bought vocal lessons for the two leads who hadn’t had a lot of singing experience
  • They found an awesome and talented ensemble to back up the vocals and add a lot of substance to the piece
  • They remained completely faithful to the vision I had for the piece. They approached it with care and trusted the lyrics to bring out the emotional bond with the audience.
  • And then when the lead male (Boon-Kit) had an emergency appendectomy the morning before the final performance, Alvin stepped in to do Boon-Kit’s role because “the show must go on!” And with very little rehearsal with Vivian, Alvin nailed the performance.

All of this to say THANK YOU to Alvin and Karynn for their amazing dedication to my piece. I feel tremendously honored.

Now to the cast: Vivian and Book-Kit’s emotional performances were stunning. It said it all when I looked at the women around me at the end of the performance and when I saw them wiping tears from their eyes, I knew they had achieved my vision for the piece.

And the ensemble: so much talent that made the soaring pieces soar and the quiet pieces speak whispers of emotion.

And the musicians: the live music added so much verve to the production.

I thank you all for all of your had work and passion for my piece. I wish I could have been more directly involved and had had the chance to get to know you all better.

Perhaps we can work together more in the future.

So it matters not what happens tonight when they hand out the awards, because performing arts is all about the experience and having a small opportunity to affect the audience. In that, you are all winners!

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“A Woman at War” Musical Lyrics

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how my musical “A Woman at War” is being performed this week in Kuala Lumpur Wed-Sat as part of the Short & Sweet Musical Festival. I’ll be heading down tomorrow to take part in the festivities. But in the meantime, I thought I’d post the lyrics. “Dedicated to all the women who fought for the love on the home front.”

“A Woman in War: A Musical”

Lyrics by Mark W. Sasse

Music by Mark W. Sasse & Laura Danneker

Dedicated to all the women who fought for their love on the home front.

ACT I: The Wedding

                            SARA

I knew by the look

and the awkward shy way that you took my hand,

from that moment on,

Love could survive cross the ocean’s span

                            JOHNNY

When I hold you, the war disappears

                            SARA

When you hold me, I walk without fear

                            DUET

You are life to me, you’re all I can see

You are life to me, you help me believe

that All of my, all of my, all of my dreams are wrapped up in you

oooo-oooo-oooo

All of my, all of my, all of my hopes are wrapped up in you

oooo-oooo-oooo

                            SARA

I do (they are standing like they are getting married.)

            (They walk arm in arm after the wedding, he is waving to the crowds but she is singing in a series   and contemplative manner.)

My friends warned me what I’d become

A numberless widow by an enemy’s gun

but I feel as strong as I do

Cause I’m just a woman in war over you

I’m just a woman in war over you.

            (Face to face with each other)

SARA

Stay safe. And come home.

                            JOHNNY

Wait for me.

                            SARA

Always.

            (Johnny turns to leave as she sings, watching him go out of sight)

You are life to me, you’re all I can see

You are life to me, you help me believe

that All of my, all of my, all of my dreams are wrapped up in you

oooo-oooo-oooo

All of my, all of my, all of my hopes are wrapped up in you …

            (Air raid sirens. Johnny on stage left is acting like he is at the war front. Sara, on stage right,    acting like she is hiding in a shelter.)

ACT II: The War

                         JOHNNY

Against the pitch of the dark blood-curling night

each minute we stand on the cusp of life

all barrels wait on the slightest twitch

with our knees are half sunk in a muddy ditch

No family exists in the trench of war

and the stench of death is a common bore

the numbness I feel inside my chest

will not dissipate with relax and rest

I will wait for the fog to lift

I wait for my soul to breathe once again

I will wait for the fog to lift

But I’m afraid I’ll never see you again

            (Johnny continues acting like he is at war while Sara sings and acts out the following.)

                                 SARA

On the home front, women fight the same war

by rationing goods at the local store

and we turned all the mills into fighting machines,

and we pack all our boxes with ripped magazines

Not a patch in the ground isn’t used for a seed,

growing gardens of life, we truly believe,

will be used to feed our boys in the war

each Sunday we pray for peace restored

                  JOHNNY & SARA

and I wait for the fog to lift

and I wait for my soul to breathe once again

and I wait for the fog to lift

but I don’t know if I will see you again,

                 JOHNNY & SARA

And we fight for the glory,

And we fight for our home

and we fight for our children,

at both fronts, alone

and we fight for the crashing around our soul

and we fight for the glory, we fight for it all

 

                      JOHNNY (singing same time with Sara)

And we fight for the glory,

And we fight for our home

and we fight for our children,

at both fronts, alone

and we fight for the crashing around our soul

and we fight for the glory, we fight for it all

SARA

and I wait for the fog to lift

and I wait for my soul to breathe once again

and I wait for the fog to lift

but I don’t know if I will see you again,

         (GUN SHOT –  Johnny falls down, wounded. He crawls off stage as Sara sings the following part)

            SARA

At night when the sun

dips beneath the clouds

I hold your last letter

and I think of how proud

you make me still

How I love you still

after three long years

you’re still on my heart

and I cannot bear that we’re still apart

but I feel as strong as I do

cause I’m still a woman at war over you.

I’m still a woman at war over …

            (Bells ringing)

victory victory victory victory   (production note: this can be pre-recorded or sung by Sara)

SARA

our boys are coming home

our boys are coming home

I’ll no longer be alone

because our boys are coming home

You are life to me, you’re all I can see

You are life to me, you help me believe

that all of my, all of my, all of my dreams are wrapped up in …

            (speaking)

Johnny? Johnny?

ACT III: The Homecoming

            (Sara comes upon Johnny who is sitting in a wheel chair, unresponsive, like he is in eternal shell-             shock. Sara tries to get his attention but to no avail. She becomes irritated and starts the           following song.)

                    SARA

I don’t understand what’s wrong

He doesn’t seem to know me

I don’t understand what happened

It’s like he never knew me

It’s like he can’t talk

he won’t look in my direction

Why won’t he talk

he shows me no affection

the doctor says to love him and treat him like he’s there

but I can’t take the burden of living with such fear

            (She comes back to him with compassion.)

Jonny, talk to me. Johnny.  (she becomes more mellow)

Why does he listen but not respond,

Why does he look but does not see

Why do I have these selfish thoughts?

Why did this have to happen to me?

He’s not the same man that I once loved

But he needs me just the same

There is no one at all to blame

But why do I feel so ashamed

of my feelings

I want to run away.

I want to leave today.

There is no one

no one at all to blame.

            (speaking)

I’m sorry, Johnny. I’m sorry.

            (She starts to walk away in tears when she hears a recorded voice, as if it is echoing in her head.)

            JOHNNY’S VOICE PRE-RECORDED

Will you wait for me?  Will you wait for me?

            (She turns and looks back in his direction, feels sympathy, and duty)

            SARA

Always.

            (She starts coming back to her unresponsive husband.)

            (tenderly)

You are life to me, you’re all I can see

You are life to me, you help me believe

that All of my, all of my, all of my dreams are wrapped up in you

oooo-oooo-oooo

All of my, all of my, all of my hopes are wrapped up in you

oooo-oooo-oooo

            (stronger)

My friends warned me what I’d become

A numberless widow by an enemy’s gun

but I feel as strong as I do

Cause I’m still a woman in war over you

I’m still a woman in war over you.

            (There is some movement from Jonny. He moves his mouth and talks for the first time.)

            JOHNNY

Sara.

            SARA

Johnny.

            (She comes to his side and he reaches for her hand.)

            (Lights fade.)

THE END

 

Short & Sweet Musical: My composition’s up first during week one!

The news out of the Short & Sweet KL Musical Festival is that they have posted the running order of the show for week one. My musical “A Woman at War” which I wrote and co-composed the music with Laura Danneker is up first during the first week of the festival.

I’m super excited to have Alvin Looi doing the directing with his wife Karyn doing the musical direction. They have been gracious enough to keep me “in the loop” with what they are doing with the production, but I’ll be seeing for the first time when they perform it live on Sept 26. “A Woman at War” will be showing four nights in a row, Sept 24-27, and then, hopefully, it will be chosen for the gala night which is on Sunday October 5. I’ll get to see it twice. Can’t wait.

Lots of fun stuff coming up in September including Short & Sweet Theatre Penang of which I’ll be directing one piece and I’ll get to watch the production of another one that I have written. More on those later.

Here’s to live theatre! Nothing like it.

short sweet capture