The Sistine Chapel Dramatic Sketches

Our school is pretty cool. Each May we have a week we designate as our Fine Arts Festival where we have band concerts, live theatre (that’s my category), and art displays. We hold it at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. It’s a great event. My original musical, “Boardwalk Melody”, will be debuting during that week this year. More on that later.

The art department approached me a while back and said they they were going to make a replica of the Sistine Chapel. It will be about 8ft high, 12×8 ft in measurement. The young artists are working on recreating Michelangelo’s masterpieces for the ceiling, as well as a few of the other murals. The art department wanted me to write some dramatic sketches which could be performed in the chapel during the festival in order to help them understand the works.

I readily agreed and then quickly asked my writing buddy Jackie to see if she wanted to write one of the sketches while I took the other three. She agreed. And now they are all complete. I just finished editing Jackie’s sketch this afternoon, and it’s a fine script called “Reluctance”, it pairs Moses with Michelangelo as they banter back and forth talking about the art. It’s a fun dramatic piece that everyone will enjoy.

Here are the brief synopses of the three that I wrote which focus mainly on Michelangelo’s works:

Sketch 1: “The Greatest Heavyweight Fight of the Ages: Almighty God vs. Nothingness” – this one focuses on his works of creation from the viewpoint of a boxing broadcaster and his color analyst. It will be fun and entertaining.

Sketch 2: “Apathy” – this one focuses on the creation of man and woman and banishment from the Garden of Eden. I focused this one on God’s attempt to reach man but man’s continual lackluster and limp-wristed efforts to reach back to God. The imagery of the limp wrist, of course, comes from Michelangelo’s iconic painting of creation of man. It’s a fairly poignant and interesting piece.

Sketch 3: “The Life of Christ in Verse” – this one focuses on Rosselli’s and others’ paintings on the life of Christ. I decided to do something different on this and wrote a lyrical, rhythmic chant which combines the imagery and meaning behind the four paintings: Sermon on the Mount, Delivery of the Keys, The Last Supper, and The Temptation of Christ.

I really enjoyed writing these. I’ll be working with some of the actors over the next five weeks as they prepare for the mini-shows. It’s going to be a lot of fun and will bring some meaning and drama to the Sistine Chapel.

If you are going to be in Penang the week of May 22, please come and check it out!

RLT Players: The Final Three Sketches

One week from tonight, we’ll be doing our dress rehearsal for our brand new show “Captured in Time & Space”, a series of 9 dramatic and musical sketches which highlight the defining moments of life. In two previous posts, I broke down the first 6 sketches and now I’d like to do the same with the final three. And if you are in Penang, please come see the show at PenangPAC, Nov 22 & Nov 23. It’s going to be something special.

Sketch 7: Light a Candle

I wrote this sketch to be a simple expression of a daughter’s love to her father, whom she lost to a tragic accident when she was a child. The candle, and its flickering light, become a symbol and means of communication with her father in heaven throughout the course of her whole life. This sketch is backed by some beautiful theme music written by RLT alumnus Shion Beak.

light a candle

Sketch 8: Jerome, the Malevolent God-King

Jerome was a two-year old abandoned script that I resurrected. Originally titled “Jerome the Cruel and Merciless” I reworked it into more a fantasy tale, with a grandfather telling the story to his granddaughter. It turned out to be a fun sketch. And when Aaron enters as Jerome on the back of Joseph, it’s pretty classic.


Sketch 9: Captured in Time & Space: The Musical

The show finale. I wrote this piece this past spring for two purposes. The first was for RLT and the second was to enter it into the KL Short & Sweet musical festival. I enticed Shion Beak to join me and help write the music and performance track. It chronicles three individuals who all have reached the end of their rope, and they cry to the heavens that if “Where you want me to go, but I can’t go alone.” It’s a poignant tale with fun music. It was fun to see how the short and sweet crew produced it, but I’m so excited to see the response as the RLT Players tackle it – especially with the awesome choreography of Rachel Chand. It’s going to be a great show ending. Can’t wait. Only one week!

captured in time and space


All photography by Michael Deeb.

I’m Writing a Full-Length Musical!

I’m feeling ambitious – or stupid. Only time will settle the duel.

I’ve decided to go all out this year and create, from scratch, a full-length, full-blown, Broadway style musical for my dramatic production in May 2014.

No, I’m not doing this alone. I’m working with a fun and talented group of motivated high school students. I have three musicians who will be scoring, and arranging the music. I have 5 others who are working on the dramatic aspect of the script.

I’m at the helm writing dialogue and songs, keeping the project on task, and, hopefully, afloat.

We are approaching this like a classical musical. Opening dance number setting the scene. Introspective songs dispersed in the dialogue to reveal the characters hopes and desires.

We have a very simple premise. Set on a boardwalk of a ocean resort town, a strong willed woman entrepreneur opens a swimsuit shop next to a travel agency filled with eligible guys. There’s actually a wonderful twist to the plot which I don’t want to reveal at this time.

Our assumption is that the audience is sitting in the ocean. The front of the stage is the boardwalk, and the two shops will be side by side at the back of the stage. An ice cream lady, selling her wares, will be the narrator of the story. She is being wooed by a fisherman who has been trying to catch her for a long time. Their story will give insight into the main story about the strong willed swimsuit designer and the the manager of the tourist company who will fall in love with her.

But there is a fun twist.

I already have an assistant director and a choreographer. I still need a musical director because I want live music at the performance.

Our timeline:

December 2013 – finished draft of script and sample recordings of music

December 2013 – early auditions for lead roles

January 2013 – Open auditions

Feb-May – Rehearsal Schedule

May – 3 performances @ Penang Performing Arts Centre.

This is going to be a blast!

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. ┬áDon’t miss it.