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.

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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

 

“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.

Musical Review: “Marrying Me” @ PenangPAC and KLPAC

I think I may have said this before, but just to hear the voice of Stephanie Van Driesen in the Actor’s Studio’s production of the original musical “Marrying Me” is worth the price of admission alone.

Stephanie, once again, shines as a very likeable character, wanting to be her own person and not to be shackled down by family expectations and obligations in regards to marriage.

The setting itself will undoubtedly ring true for many Malaysians who have felt the pressure from family to marry, who have dealt with guilt trips and underhandedness in order to preserve the family line.

The plot is solid, moving from ridiculous to funny to poignant, at times, but it is truly Van Driessen, and the voice, that carries the songs to new and interesting heights under the precise direction Christopher Ling.

I always enjoy Ling’s vibrant direction which typically employs simplistic sets with fast paced movement in and out by the actors, seamlessly connecting the scenes. The cast was energetic and clearly enjoying themselves. That makes a big difference for the audience.

Upbeat music. Witty dialogue. A storyline that Malaysians can relate to.

And that VOICE! Go enjoy an entertaining night at the theatre!

“Marrying Me” ended its run at PenangPAC on Sunday, but is coming to KLPAC starting December 13. 

http://www.klpac.org/marryingme/

marrying me

Review: Postcards from Rosa

A witty and moving script from Des Sim.

An eye-catching and tight production from director Christopher Ling.

And a heart-warming and moving performance from Marina Tan.

Postcards from Rosa is a hit!

This is intimate theater at its best. PenangPAC Stage Two was arranged at an angle so only 80 seats cornered around the stage of faux tile floor with cloth backdrops which became the different settings of Rosa’s life by effective and eye-catching projected images which set the scene very well.

Grandma Rosa talks through her entire life, and it is a fascinating and intimate look at a Peranakan, Straits-Chinese family.

Tan adroitly plays all the characters of her entire life – her stoic father, her jealous step-mother, her children, and grandchildren. However, the centerpiece of the story is set around the unique and special relationship she had with her grandson Benny whom she inspired to see the world. She ends up living his life through the postcards she receives from him.

The play is all about family and the difficult relationships and requirements which come with a typical Chinese family. It’s never easy, but Rosa’s love for her family and her willingness to grow and learn through the years, gives the audience a fascinating cultural ride.

This is a one-woman show with lots of heart, and Tan gives her all in a very believable performance. Highly recommended.

You can catch the show at PenangPAC this weekend and then at the KL Performing Arts Centre starting next week.  Don’t miss it.