Sunday, October 30, 2011

Directing Dreamgirls, the Broadway Musical

In the first 7 months of 2011, I directed a Broadway musical and had a baby. Two life-changing milestones (for me) and that’s not the half of it..........

Needless to say, it’s been hard to find a moment to update my blog. In fact I started writing this in August and it is now the end of October! Only now do I understand how intense, time-consuming and remarkable it is, to be a parent and a mother. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I do plan to blog about this amazingly intense, yet fun, humbling, pride-giving, wonderful and very, VERY painful experience of juggling the two new loves of my life, my newborn son and directing in the theatre, but perhaps when I’ve caught up on some sleep! Perhaps in another couple of months........ ;)

But I must say, we had a great cast, crew and production team and I feel very privileged to have worked with them all. I really felt I gave ALL the energy and love I had to this fabulous musical (which was not so easy while breastfeeding, attending to a newborn, getting used to being a mother and not having had a full night’s sleep for the last 8months! Aaaah!). I don’t think the cast will ever really know how much I loved them, until they themselves have a baby one day in the future! But this was one production, and opportunity to exert my artistry, which I could never have turned down.

In the meantime, below is an amazing review I got from Terence Toh and my director’s notes that were in the programme book of the musical, Dreamgirls.

Director Joanna Bessey did

a fantastic job with the staging,

with all scenes being visually

and musically arresting. Her

production captured perfectly

the glitz of 1960s America,

where soul and disco ruled the

airwaves. Particularly well done

is the opening scene, a talent

show, where despite many things

happening simultaneously, the

action was well coordinated, your

attention always drawn to the

crucial parts of a scene.

Whether through colourful

costumes, inspired lighting,

massive backdrops, pyrotechnics

or props (even a scale model

of a Cadillac at one point!)

every number was memorable.

Dreamgirls was the kind of show

where you sat at the edge of your

seat, awestruck, wondering how

anything could top what you’d just

seen, and then the next musical

number comes and blows you

away completely.

Programme Book, Joanna Bessey's notes:

Musicals are always about bringing the outside world into the theatre and this time we have brought New York and Broadway to KL! But with a cast and creative team from right here!

Having the opportunity to direct a Broadway musical in our national theatre has been nothing short of a wonderful dream for me! Not only have I had a dream cast to work with but we also have a fantastic production team who made this "Dream" possible, despite almost impossible odds. Life has a funny way of imitating Art and vice-versa.

I want to thank the producers for creating this opportunity and doing something so ambitious; and I must thank the whole team who have turned this "Dream" into a reality.
I am hoping this is a step in the right direction and adding toward nurturing world-class talent who are home-grown in Malaysia. I do believe world-class shows are already starting to come into fruition, right here in our small industry and hopefully it will continue to grow and even start to be exported on a more regular basis to the rest of the world. And having some cross-cultural exchange, such as this, in which we can learn from Broadway's best, is definitely a step forward on the path to excellence.

I hope you, the audience will agree and be proud of our talented cast, the first Malaysians doing a Broadway show right here in KL!