Friday, June 25, 2010

Adam The Musical

To write about the longest-running Malaysian musical right after it had ended its run is not very efficient of me. There were 35 shows all in all, and I procrastinated till the 34th. I had actually wanted to go for the final show, but by the time we inquired, the tickets were all sold out. I must say, I understand I was very fortunate to get to watch the musical at all.

I had also intended to write about it the very moment I got back from the 19th June show - or the very next day at least... and yet, here we are.

Adam the Musical (the link to the official website I would have posted if it still exists - I don't know why they've already taken it down from is about the girl who comes to know that her fiance is HIV-positive just before their planned wedding. Of course, no one was singing about the virus. The musical is not about AIDS - it's about dealing with it, living with it, how people (family, friends, fellow sufferers, orang kampung, medical personnels, etc) react to it, and above all, deciding that love should overcome it.

Although written by people I've never heard of (sorry, guys - no hard feelings, yea), it had Dato' Faridah Merican in it, and Joe Hasham as the director. That alone quite convinced me it should be a good show, not to mention that Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan was the choreographer, and Tracy Wong the music director. These are actual, real, no-nonsense people that I know, and have worked with!

So, the songs were OK, the music good, and the singing... well, could be better. I've read reviews written by others saying the singing was very good, and that the cast's talents were well above the script and music given to them. I cannot completely agree - though, mind you, reader, that I am not formally trained in music, so whether I find something pleasing or otherwise is based solely on my personal preference. I found that although most the songs were sung rather nicely, none were exceptionally impressive, and none affecting enough to really move me emotionally - except dear Faridah's syair, which was very, very lovely. And though I really liked Maria Yasmin's (who played Sylvia, the female protagonist) voice, several of her high notes made me cringe a little. The ensemble sang pretty well too, when they were singing together, in harmony, that is. The very few solo lines were so bad I nearly fell off my seat.

The dialogs, though mostly fine, were a little crude here and there, and a little cheesy in parts. The choreography, on the other hand, was wonderful. The dance steps by the ensemble were not too flashy, yet, beautiful and engaging. The part they stomped their feet several times in quick succession reminded me of our Lo Lo Re Babu and that really made me smile. Oh, and there were two guys dressed as ladies! It wasn't until quite a bit into the show that I realised they played a couple of transvestites who were also HIV-positive. Outrageously dressed and dolled-up, loud and imposing, they were extremely entertaining.

The one part which quite moved me, was the conversation between Sylvia and her sister Elsa, right after Sylvia disclosed the fact that Adam, the man she would marry, is HIV-positive. Elsa said something like - they don't know what he did to have contracted the disease; Sylvia replied - it doesn't matter, it is in his past! It stuck on me because it made me think of the possibility of unconditionally loving a person, regardless of his past, regardless of the consequences and burdens that followed him from his past, without knowing, and without wanting to know what happened in that past. (Well, recently I've come to conclude that absolute unconditional love, other than that of a parent for a child, can't actually exist - I will leave that for another post)

However, towards the end, it was implied that Adam was born HIV-positive, which I felt had considerably dampened the impact of the earlier plot. Think about it - isn't it so much easier to love a person who is sick through no wrong of his, compared to one who you do not know how he got sick? It's quite disappointing because I felt that the entire musical became so much shallower in that instant. The writers should have left Adam's past as the unsolved mystery, and show us Sylvia's love for the person standing in front of her, without the slightest curiosity nor care for the person he used to be.

The finale was grand - with a song performed by the entire cast (I think). The ending, though, was abrupt and odd. After the finale, all the cast members disappeared from the stage, and one person - the Angel - remained, to casually say a few words to indicate that the musical had ended. I felt it wasn't very Joe-like. Well, maybe it was a side of Joe I hadn't been acquainted with.

So, did I enjoy the show? Sure I did! Would I recommend it to you, reader? Well, I would, really, if it was still running...

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