Break a Leg: “It’s the End of the World & I Love You”

My short musical, “It’s the End of the World & I Love You” is being performed this week at the Kuala Lumpur Short & Sweet Musical Festival 2017. It’s being directed by fellow writer and director Terence Toh — though he admits this is his first hand at directing a musical. I think he’ll do great.

short and sweet musical 2017

 

I’m so sad that I won’t be able to see it live. But hey, there’s always video. And to commemorate the week, I’d like to leave the lyrics of the entire 10-minute musical below for your perusal. It’s a piece that is a lot of fun. I hope to get to produce it myself again in the future. Here you go. Enjoy!

It’s the End of the World and I Love You

A Short Musical

 

Lyrics by Mark W. Sasse

Music by Mark W. Sasse

 

Synopsis: In the split second before an atomic bomb destroys the world, two lovers sing a 10-minute musical.

Cast of Characters:         Husband & Wife

(optional) Ensemble

 

HUSBAND

Are you ready, dear? Wow, you look fantastic

WIFE

Thank you, dear, I’m nearly ready to go.

BOTH

And you made the reservations, right? I thought …

Now what do you suggest we do? Calm down. Calm down.

I thought I gave that job to you. Calm down. Calm down.

WIFE

I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.

HUSBAND

Take a deep breath we’ll go with the flow?

Maybe the night will surprise us.

WIFE

I don’t like to be surprised.

(Suddenly an atomic explosion rings out and they witness a mushroom cloud forming in front of them. He is standing in awe, and she in disbelief.)

 

HUSBAND

It’s the end of the world, and I love you!

it’s the end of our life; full payment is due;

It’s the end of the world and I love you

so hold my hand, love

walk to our new life above

 

To the forest’s edge; it’s just a short trip

we’ll have a front row seat at the apocalypse

I’ll wear my best tie; you wear your red dress

cause there’s obviously no way out of this mess

we’ll kiss once more at the fireworks display

a gas mask is the accessory of the day

cause how can we compete with nuclear fission

someone dropped a bomb and completed their mission

I’m just a wishin’

they would have missed

but since they didn’t

why not kiss?

(one last time)

It’s the end of the world, and I love you!

It’s the end of our life; nothing more we can do;

It’s the end of the world and I love you

I’m happy to know, I’m here with you when life is through

 

WIFE

Pause.

There’s so many things that I enjoy about him,

He’s sweet, he’s kind

His kisses are sublime

But I hope you can tell by his latest thought

That at times he can be a complete idiot!

 

I can’t accept this fate

I have 50 years left I will not be moved

Just what is a mushroom cloud?

When I have resolve and rage in my heart.

Rage, rage, rage against the night,

And you could do more than just want to kiss (so typical)

Don’t go without a fight,

We fight for more than a moment left in time

Defiance, Defiance, Defiance, Defiance

Don’t resign to fate

Our more than 50 years still ahead (you listening?)

I want grandchildren

I want to hold them tight, safe secure, first we must endure,

Rage, rage against the night

And wipe that silly expression off your face (so comical)

This song we must re-write

This dress is meant for so much more than just an Ash Wednesday party,

Defiance, defiance, defiance, defiance!

 

HUSBAND

Calm Down Calm down

What is it dear?

WIFE

A thought I cannot bear.

 

You see fireworks I see flames

You see a final kiss, I see pain,

You say chill and I say run

You say stay, but I’m Attila the Hun

 

HUSBAND

You see ending I see your lips

You see crying I see a last kiss

You see heartache but I’ll admit

One moment with you is not so easy to quit

 

This might indeed be what we call the end

So let’s do what we couldn’t if we were just friends?

 

WIFE
You see a requiem, I see escape,

HUSBAND

You see a glimmer, but I see a drape,

WIFE

You see a final kiss, but I’ll admit

BOTH

One moment with you is not so easy to quit

HUSBAND

You should ask her about Y2K.

WIFE
Don’t bring that up.

HUSBAND

She built a bunker where we could stay,

WIFE
Would you shut up?

HUSBAND

And ever since she’s been putting canned beans away,

A case and a half every other day.

WIFE

Nothing wrong with a little foresight,

HUSBAND

You call that little?

WIFE

If we can get there you’d be contrite,

HUSBAND

I’d rather kiss.

WIFE
Would you rather be blown to smithereens,

Or live comfortably underground on 20 years of beans?

HUSBAND

She has 3000 pinto and 2000 black soy

Enough in itself to power fat man and little boy,

she thinks she can stop that from what it will destroy

by merely phoning Olympus like she’s Helen of Troy

WIFE

What do you want from me?

HUSBAND

Look danger in the mouth,

and smile when it’s near,

you’ll always be surprised of how few things that you fear,

if you eat a frog first thing in the morning,

a mushroom cloud will surely seem quite boring,

So purge your thoughts,

forget your past,

release your hopes,

and concentrate on the blast,

its magnificent power,

like the beating of my heart,

grip my hand and we’ll be split apart

WIFE

Just, just a moment ago

I was standing here my future all planned out when this

Cloud shielded my view

Of my futuristic fantasy of

1.7 kids and 2.7 dogs and

Years of PTO and teenager BO

But this big bang nightmare

ruined my eveningwear

HUSBAND

What’s wrong?

WIFE
It’s not the bomb.

HUSBAND

Then what’s wrong.

WIFE

I’m not that strong.

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE

This little song

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE

It’s not so long

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE

We don’t belong,

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE
Caught in this song

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE
This great big bomb

HUSBAND

What’s wrong?

WIFE

Does not belong

In our love song

HUSBAND

(speaking) What’s wrong?

WIFE

Tonight of all nights was the night of all nights

When I would tell you you’re having a son.

HUSBAND

A son?

WIFE
It’s okay. We can all go together now

 

To the forest’s edge; it’s just a short trip

To our front row seats at the apocalypse

HUSBAND

I’ll wear my best tie;

WIFE

I’ll wear my red dress

BOTH

cause there’s obviously no way out of this mess

we’ll kiss once more at the fireworks display

a pacifier will be the accessory of the day

cause how can we compete with nuclear fission

someone dropped a bomb and completed their mission

I’m just a wishin’

they would have missed

but since they didn’t

why not kiss?

(one last time)

It’s the end of the world, and I love you!

It’s the end of our life; nothing more we can do; (I finally understand what you’ve been going through.)

It’s the end of the world and I love you

I’m happy to know, we’re a family when our life is through.

A Night at the Theatre in KL to See My Play

I took a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur to see a production of my new play, “Alone in a Bar,” at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival 2016. Well, it wasn’t really my play, because brave director, Vinna Law, took some bold creative choices and turned it into a physical theatre piece with pre-recorded dialogue.

I never could have imagined it in a million years, but the actors put a lot of hard work and passion into the product which I’m very happy with. It turned out to be an emotional piece that certainly gets the audience wonder. I’m sure I’ll get the chance to see a conventional staging of the piece at another time, but I enjoyed seeing how different people can see different things. So bravo to the entire cast and crew for trying something completely different.

I was also happy to finally meet Vinna Law as she’ll be joining me and two fellow actors on stage in January as we do a lightly-staged reading of my new full-length play, “The Last Bastion,” as part of penangpac collaborative events for 2017. I’m so looking forward to that!

Okay, now it’s time to head back to Penang.
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Script Chosen for Short & Sweet Theatre KL 2016

My script, Alone in a Bar, was chosen to take part in the 2016 KL Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. It will be directed by Vinna Law. I won’t have a hand in production, but I hope to get to KL and see it this fall. The script is a little different for me, about a broken man who, day after day, sits and cries himself into a stupor without ever saying a word. On this particular day, things get interesting. A little dark for me, perhaps. But I had fun writing it. Hope it turns out well!

ss 2016 2 ss 2016 1

 

“Words to Say”: Encore Performance in KL

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There we are – writer/director with Lexi and Ysabel hanging out at the pre-show meeting last night. We’ve been riding our script for quite a while now. Our short play, “Words to Say at the End of the World” won 5 awards at the festival in August, and it just keeps living on. We had the honor of bringing it to Kuala Lumpur and performing it for the standing room only audience of the Gala Finals Night @ Short & Sweet Malaysia. The girls’ performance was awesome!IMG_20151101_1644173_rewind

Here they are in their mom & daughter roles. The audience was great! Lots of laughter and many touching tears as the two came to a realization of how much they meant to each other. It’s funny how life suddenly becomes serious when  you’re staring at a mushroom crowd.IMG_20151101_2330242_rewind

Here’s the festivities after the awards-ceremony. (My girls weren’t eligible since it was a showcase piece from another city.)

We have one last performance coming up. They will be giving their final curtain call at the 4th anniversary open day at Penangpac on November 15.

I’m really proud of these girls. They have tremendous talent!

Big Weekend Ahead

Lots of fun drama activities this weekend at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre!

It’s the final weekend of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival, and one of my new plays entitled “A Writer’s Satire” is being performed by a group of Malaysian actors. Here’s the one sentence synopsis:

A writer is summoned to appear in front of the Industry Review Board – a new government agency which was established to help creative artists become more politically correct.  

It’s a (hopefully) funny and engaging look at where (perhaps) our society is heading. Director Henry Tan (whom I’ve never met) I’m sure will be adding his flair and touches to the piece, so I’m excited to see it.  I’m flying down to KL on Friday so I can watch the final two nights of the festival. Then late  Friday night, the best productions of the two weeks of the theatre festival will be announced and will perform one more time on Sunday night as part of the Gala Finals where the awards will be given out. I have no idea if  our show will make it or not, but  here’s  hoping!

However, make it or not, I DO have a show in the Gala Finals. My piece “Words to Say at the End of the World,” which swept 5 major awards at the Penang Short & Sweet Festival in August will be performed by my award-winning students, Ysabel Loh & Lexi Zimbulis. They were invited to bring the piece to KL as a showcase piece for the Gala Finals. Quite the honor! We are very excited to bring this meaningful piece to the packed house in KL.

So I’ll be on scene all weekend at the Festival. I’m sure I’ll have photos  and comments to share.

Until then, time to pack and get ready. Should be a blast!

A Mini-Tour for our Award-Winning Play

On the heels of sweeping five awards in the Short and Sweet Theatre festival recently for my short play “Words to Say at the End of the World,” we’re beginning to see that this play isn’t yet ready for retirement. I’ve been asked to have my two amazing actors perform it in three different venues over the next two months. It’s quickly becoming a mini-tour for a mini-play. It’s all very exciting and I’m thrilled to have Yzzy and Lexi get more opportunities to perform this poignant piece a few more times. So I’m proud to announce our mini-tour:

September 26 – Bayview Hotel, Batu Ferringhi, Penang – Fundraiser for Charity

November 1 – Gala Finals Night, Short & Sweet Theatre Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

November 15 – Penang Performing Arts Centre Four-Year Anniversary Party

Perhaps we should add a European tour to the schedule. Any corporate sponsors out there that would like to fund up, send me an email!

But seriously, it’s been thrilling to see this play touch a lot of people, and it will be reaching a few hundred more over the next two months. And here are the stars of the show.

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Shakespeare Demystified: Othello

This is the fourth installment that I’ve seen from those folks who like to simplifying the Bard. They picked the tragedy “Othello” for this year’s production, and how did they do? Keep reading!

The penangpac SD playlist of the last few years looked like this:

  • 2012 Merchant of Venice
  • 2013 Merry Wives of Windsor
  • 2014 Hamlet: A Performance Lecture
  • 2015: Othello

I caught Othello on opening night at penangpac, and like any opening night, there were some jitters and jumbled lines on some of the explanations of Othello given by the actors. But this detracted little from the main course.

Here’s the way SD works: they abridge the Bard’s work down to 100 minutes, which includes the explanations. These pre-scene talks are done by various actors (with cheat-sheet in hand) as they attempt to inform the audience on the scene in which they are about to witness. These informative explanations also delve into the characters to help conjecture about motivation, often citing how scholars have interpreted the work.

What comes next is Shakespeare in his original language performed with a minimalist set.

Does it work? Absolutely!

The Shakespeare Demystified folks continue to show their enviable ability to make the works of William come alive to modern audiences who have become perhaps weary of many of his works.

The explosive ending to Othello was just that: riveting, tragic, and emotional. I even noticed a few tears in the audience.

Shakespeare Demystified’s “Othello” is an excellent, gripping, and entertaining introduction for those who think Shakespeare is hard to understand.

I highly recommend it.

Their short run at penangpac has just finished, but you can catch the SD crew at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from April 22-26.

Don’t miss it!

Fun @ Short & Sweet Musical KL

I had a great time last night finally seeing the production of my mini-musical, “A Woman at War.”  Vivian Chan and Boon-Kit gave wonderfully emotional performances as Johnny and Sara, a young couple separated during World War II.

The direction and musical direction by husband and wife team Alvin Looi and Karynn Tan stayed true to the emotional story, and highlighted the events beautifully with a wonderful and powerful back-up ensemble.

I feel so privileged to have such a group performing my work. Their dedication and hard-work paid off, regardless of what the judges ultimately decide. I get to watch it again tonight!

There I am! They called the writer down to take a bow with the wonderful cast and crew.2014-09-26 21.49.18

 

 

There we all are. The placard outside the theatre.2014-09-26 20.11.23

Here’s the whole cast plus the great musicians.2014-09-26 20.11.38 The cast taking a bow.2014-09-26 21.48.57 Here’s the whole cast, crew, and composers.2014-09-26 21.57.37

 

One more show tonight. We won’t know until next week whether it will make the gala night. Time will tell. Either way, awesome show by a lot of talented performers.

“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

 

“A Woman at War” – My Musical Opens Today in Kuala Lumpur

I’m very excited about the 10 minute musical that I wrote which was chosen for production in the Short & Sweet Musical Festival KL 2014. It opens tonight at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, and will be showing through Saturday along with five other musicals. I’ll be flying down to KL on Friday and will be able to catch the show on Friday and Saturday nights. I’ll make sure to take pictures and post the exciting glitz and glamour from the event.

Ten minute musicals are fun to write, but they have their unique challenges. They are short, so they have to be focused. I wrote one last year called “Captured in Time and Space” which was much more of a thematic piece – not a linear narration.

This year I wanted to tell a story by music in ten minutes. I wanted it to be an emotionally gripping story. Yes, I wanted tears in the audience. (We’ll see if that happens or not.)

So I came up with the concept of a war bride of WWII, saying goodbye to her new husband who is off to war. But in a very real sense, those brides who stayed behind had to fight their own wars. Wars of extreme emotion and confusion. Wars of worry. Wars of rationing. Wars of longing for everything to go back to normal.

So I wrote a three-part musical. Part I is called The Wedding and all the hopes, worries and desires that go into it. Then they part. Part II is the war where our heroine grows victory gardens, rations food, and works in a factory – all the while thinking and worrying about her lost love whom she fears will never come home.

Then the bells of victory sound and she anticipates his return, only to find her husband return as an invalid and broken man, in shell-shock, completely unresponsive.

This woman at war has to decide what she will do with her “selfish thoughts” since “he’s not the same man that I once knew”.

She’s still warring with herself, even though the war is over.

The point being – war is never over.

I’m real happy with how the lyrics turned out. I created the melodies for the different tunes in the musical, then I passed them on to my colleague and co-composer Laura Danneker who took them and created a lot of cool music to go with my melodies.

The resulting piece is a powerful piece of dramatic musical theatre.

I have not been connected at all with the production. I’ve met the director once and have communicated back and forth, but I have no idea which creative direction that they took the piece. It should be fun to discover.

“A Woman at War” – KLPAC Sept 23-26, 2014.