Musicals Not just a song and dance in this dream

| Terence Chang 27 Jun 2019

After seeing the trailer of Our Journal of Springtime - the Musical, I asked director Tom Chan Yan-shek to tell me why he chose musicals as the medium to communicate with the audience.

He handed me the show's promotional pamphlet.

In it, I found the line: "Pursue what you feel is right; don't let it become a regret in your heart."

Chan then weighed in: "Using songs and dances on top of dialogues to tell a story, musicals transcend the language barrier. It is a real breakthrough. Handled well, it is entertaining with rich content that appeals to everyone."

Chan said he has a single-minded devotion to musicals.

Inspired by good musicals he saw, he decided that musicals were what he wanted to do.

So he took steps to fulfill this ambition by going to Britain to study drama on a loan from his parents.

He pursued the goal earnestly and learned to play multiple roles - composing, writing lyrics and the script.

"I am also the director and producer," he said.

The most difficult part, he said, is watching outlays to achieve a balanced budget, which is crucial if you want to get a sponsorship.

Chan put on many trial shows and listened to feedback from audiences of different age groups to fine-tune Our Journal of Springtime.

"From conception to putting it on stage took over a year, during which there were four group readings of the script.

"There will be 10 shows at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Jockey Club Auditorium from July 23 to 28.

"To me, it's a dream come true," he said.

Chan is also meticulous with casting.

"Singing ability is of prime importance as singing is what a musical is about.

"But acting is also crucial. We need artists who know how to act.

"They have to pass the audition, and I am the gatekeeper," he said.

That evening, a senior production consultant told us over dinner that Chan designed an extremely sophisticated set one time, but it turned out to be too big for the doors.

Chan said he wouldn't make that mistake again, but stressed that a simplistic stage design would bore the audience.

For the upcoming show, there would be a live band with more than 20 original songs.

Our Journal of Springtime has a solid story line, he said, and he hopes that it would be made into a movie one day.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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