Dama Or­ches­tra’s shang­haiNights

The Dama Or­ches­tra evoked a sense of nostal­gia in its lat­est pro­duc­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEW WAN YING

THE mu­si­cal jour­ney back to the 1930s Shang­hai be­gan when the fa­mil­iar melody of Zhou Xuan’s Shang­hai Nights rang in the back­ground at Dama Or­ches­tra’s Glitz And Glam­our: Tales From Old Shang­hai To

Fra­grance Bay last Fri­day. From there, the au­di­ence that filled the Pen­tas 1, Kuala Lumpur Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre (KLPAC) in Sen­tul Park, felt as if they were trans­ported back to an era when their sole en­ter­tain­ment was via the ra­dio.

Dama Or­ches­tra’s lat­est mu­sic and dance pro­duc­tion at­tempts to recre­ate the glitz and glam­our that ac­com­pa­nied the golden oldies that had cap­ti­vated gen­er­a­tions of Chi­nese lis­ten­ers, by weav­ing a love story that sees Bud­ding Rose (por­trayed by Tan Soo Suan) and Lady Star (Eve­lyn Toh) vy­ing for the af­fec­tion of The Man, charm­ingly por­trayed by Roax Tan.

Ap­pear­ing in and out of sets was the tal­ented Nell Ng, whose pow­er­ful and mov­ing nar­ra­tion chron­i­cles the rise and devel­op­ment of Chi­nese pop­u­lar mu­sic (known as shi dai qu) in Shang­hai and later, in Hong Kong.

Though at times her pro­nun­ci­a­tion of Chi­nese names was not as ac­cu­rate, it did lit­tle to mar the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence.

There were min­i­mal props and sets, as the or­ches­tra re­lied heav­ily on the cast’s vo­cal power – par­tic­u­larly the two lead­ing ac­tresses – to carry the show.

And they did not let the crowd down. Soo Suan’s Bud­ding Rose was the heart and soul of the show. The win­ner of the Boh Camero­nian Arts Award (for Best Vo­cal Per­for­mance) took our breath away with her flaw­less ren­di­tion of the mu­si­cal num­ber Madame But­ter­fly.

Equally stun­ning was Toh, who stole the show with her big voice and enig­matic pres­ence.

Other than show­cas­ing her op­er­atic prow­ess in tunes such as Ren Sheng Jiu Shi Xi (Life Is Like A Show), the prima donna put on a siz­zling act with lead­ing man Roax on a long ta­ble. That scene spiced up the night.

How­ever, the gems of the show were the tunes of yes­ter­year made fa­mous by Chi­nese songstresses like Zhou Xuan, Bai Guang, Tsin Ting and Grace Chang al­most half a cen­tury ago.

Au­di­ences lost them­selves in the or­ches­tra’s per­fect de­liv­ery of Salome, Deng Zhe Ni Hui Lai (Wait­ing For Your Re­turn), Wu Ye

Xiang Wen (Mid­night Kisses), Madame But­ter­fly and Can’t Get Your Love. A to­tal of 22 clas­sics – among them English num­bers like I (Who Have Noth­ing), Cheek To Cheek, Fly Me To The Moon and Mambo Ital­iano – were given new ar­range­ments by Dama’s mu­sic di­rec­tor Khor Seng Chew.

An­other plus point was the Do­minique Devor­sine-de­signed cos­tumes – rang­ing from del­i­cate cheongsams to glit­ter­ing se­quined dresses – which fur­ther en­hanced the mood of the show.

Also en­rich­ing the per­for­mance were the 23 mem­bers who put on en­er­getic and vi­brant dances in be­tween scenes through­out the two-hour show.

Glitz & And Glam­our: Tales From Old Shang­hai To Fra­grance Bay will be play­ing un­til Oct 31 at Pen­tas 1, Kuala Lumpur Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre in Sen­tul Park. Show­time is 8.30pm with week­end mati­nee shows at 3pm. Tick­ets are priced be­tween RM60 and RM275. For de­tails, call % 03-4047 9000/6201 9107. Al­ter­na­tively, browse klpac.org or damaorches­tra.com.

Cen­tre of at­ten­tion: Dama Or­ches­tra dancers sur­round­ing Bud­ding Rose (Tan Soo Suan) in their

lat­est pro­duc­tion Gl­itzAndGlam­our: TalesFromOld

Shang­haiTo Fra­granceBay.

Eve­lyn Toh (right) was riv­et­ing as Lady Star, who vies with Bud­ding Rose for the af­fec­tion of The Man (Roax Tan).

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