Sources: The Star – By Terence Toh| Showbiz | Edited By – All Things Michael
A bunch of talented kids sing showtunes from Wicked, Moulin Rouge, and other popular theatre musicals.
Take a group of talented children. Teach them to sing a bunch of toe-tapping, finger-snapping, head-bobbing, mind-blowing, musical showtunes. And add in a wacky story and some crazy choreography.
What do you get? A Musical Mad-Ley, a musical extravaganza performed by The Actors Studio Academy Speech and Drama 2014 students.
Featuring classic tunes from musicals such as The Sound Of Music, Wicked, Matilda and Chicago, with a little bit of Michael Jackson thrown in, the production is out to show that big talent can often be found in small packages.
“Every year, The Actors Studio does a year-end production,” says Mark Beau de Silva, The Actors Studio Academy facilitator. “But this time, we decided to be a bit more ambitious and challenge ourselves and do a musical. It’s the in thing with kids nowadays, so we wanted to impart those sort of skills to them.”
Musical Mad-Ley is written by de Silva, with choreography by Lex Lakshman, and is directed by The Actors Studio Academy facilitators, some of whom also act in the show.
The musical takes place in an average Malaysian school, whose students are excited and ready for the end of year production. Nut calamity breaks out after the principal Puan Lakshmana (played by Lex Lakshman) goes missing, and a replacement from the RTD (Replacement Teachers Department) is called in.
Appalled by the “loose” discipline and the cheery excitement of the students, the substitute Cik Binasa Raksa (de Silva) wants a change, and change she does! From excitable young performers, the students are turned into uniform wearing zombies that sing to The Sound Of Music.
Can a rebellious band of senior students, aided by the awkward Cik Omarama (Omar Ali) manage to save the school, and shine like the stars they were meant to be?
Musical Mad-Ley will feature 11 songs, performed by over 100 child performers aged from 7–18, both past and present Academy students. According to de Silva, the Academy had brought in the services of the Young Choral Academy to help them with vocal training.
Highlights of the show, he adds, include a rendition of Sparkling Diamonds from the movie Moulin Rouge, performed by students in cheerleader uniforms, as well as a Michael Jackson performance by the 10–12 age group.
“The highlight will be Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Beat It,” says Khayma Balakrishnan, the academy’s assistant teacher, who explains that the songs will be adaptations and the older musical tunes will be spiced up with additional dance breaks.
“The Wicked routine is also very nice, as it features students who have been with us for three years already. So their choreography is a bit more advanced,” says de Silva, who had to modify some of the more mature musical songs to ensure they were child-friendly.
Facilitator Omar Ali adds, one of the delights of Musical Mad-ley is watching the children enjoying themselves with the performing arts. “Working with kids is fascinating, and these kids are great. They’re really into it, and enjoying themselves, and it’s wonderful to see. You can see how much personality they have at such a young age, they’re full of character, even at a young age, and they bring it to the stage.”
Playing one of the teachers is Camillea Roxanne Benjamin, 15, who described her character Teacher Camillea as having a “very unpopular, nerdy, and awkward kind of personality”. The young student says she had greatly enjoyed being part of the Musical Mad-Ley experience.
“I enjoyed every single moment of it. Just to be able to see the show progress so much is just a blessing. The people and the teachers here are really enjoyable so this whole experience is just amazing. I love it here,” says Benjamin. “I love the teachers here as they have been so patient with us. I don’t know how they do it because we are so noisy and we annoy the teachers a lot. It’s great!”
> Musical Mad-Ley! runs Nov 15 (3pm) and Nov 16 (11am) at KLPac Pentas 2 in Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan (off Jalan Ipoh), KL. Tickets are RM33. For details, visit klpac.org or call 03-40479000.