Monday 3 June 2013

Broken bridges - a must-watch Malaysian musical

Broken Bridges is the story of a boy who couldn't wait to leave his small town home of Ipoh, and how he broke his father's heart in the process. It is the story of a boy, grown up, coming back to change his home town, and breaking his father's heart again.

Broken Bridges is the story of the rift between father and son and how they try to make amends giving in, or apologising. It is the story of the generation gap that was and that is, where parents do not understand their children and try to make them copies of themselves, and where children do not understand their parents and do not bother to try.

Broken Bridges is the story of a decision between maintaining tradition and culture and venturing out into something new. It is the story of expectations made and dashed, traditions clung to and discarded, promises given and broken.

Broken Bridges is a story of love. Love of the new, love of the old, love of a town, love of a lifestyle, love of a woman, love of a child.

Broken Bridges is a story of many things. But no physical bridges were broken in its making.

I thought it was a good musical, deserving of the many Boh Cameronian Arts Awards it garnered. It tells a strong story, one that resonates with the local crowd. And boy, was it a responsive crowd at the Sunday matinee. The first act was well-paced. I hardly realised that almost an hour had passed when suddenly it was the end of the act. The second act felt a little bit rushed though, as if there was too much material to be covered (and there was).

The overall casting was excellent. This is the first time I've seen Jon Chew act (after being told to catch his shows, but never managing to) and I thought he was a good fit. Ho Soon Yoon was perfect as Leong, though I think he overplayed the simplicity just a little in the first scene so for a moment I wondered if he was supposed to be a bit retarded. I was a little concerned at first about how Colin Kirton could pull off a "quintessential Chinese towkay" because I remember how strong his accent can be, but he was excellent as Wong. I initially thought Anrie Too was a little old to play Mei Ling, especially when they started describing her as a school girl years younger than Ming, but after watching the musical, it was obvious why they had to make that choice. A younger girl or less mature actress would have difficulty with that role. The only complaints I had casting wise was that Ringo wasn't quite splashy enough for his song. Nick Dorian wasn't from the original cast though, so maybe that was why it didn't quite fit. He was pretty okay, but not really outstanding enough, making the song just a little draggy. (Not quite sure why they changed KL in the original to Singapore in this run. What, KL not good enough for you, issit?)

What didn't work for me was placing the Teacher (Theresa Leahy) as part of the "aunties" group. It was a little awkward that in the scene where the boys visit the pub, and the aunties come in, that they addressed her as "Teacher" (what teacher would dare be seen at the pub in those days?). As it was, I thought her role a little pointless, especially since she didn't really have any role-specific lines and her accent was too different from the rest of the cast & ensemble.

Choreography wasn't quite tight enough in the opening scene (nerves, maybe) but that's the most I have to say about that. Singing/talking complaint is the usual Malaysian diction problem but this was much clearer than most.

Story wise, I would have liked the love story between Ming and Mei Ling to have unfolded a little slower, rather than just a discussion about a book and a song and then oh they kiss but then again, there wouldn't have been enough time for that. (It would also have been interesting if  Siew Yee were still around and had a jealous fit. Hah!) And it would have been a much better closure if at the end, Ming didn't hear the story from the waitress, but from his friend Leong instead. I mean, what waitress would bother to go and learn the history of the place she's working at in such detail?

So overall, good show. Go catch it if you can.
[Much better than Malaysian Girls :P ]

Broken Bridges runs at Penangpac until 8 June. 

1 comment:

  1. Aloha,

    "Broken Bridges is a story of many things. But no physical bridges were broken in its making."

    You nearly made me spit out my drink when I read that :)

    PS: Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my recent D-Day post.

    CSM Ryan's story has received an incredible amount of support.

    *Thank you*, DL Hammons and all the Blitzers :)

    Bill said to let everyone know he really appreciates all the personal comments directed his way :)