Don’t wait for love

Mar­ry­ingme is a mu­si­cal love story rar­ing to chal­lenge con­ven­tions.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By TERENCE TOH en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

H– a whim­si­cal pro­duc­tion about an un­con­ven­tional wed­ding.

The amer­i­can co­me­dian Ed­die Can­tor once said that a wed­ding was like a fu­neral, ex­cept you got to smell your own flow­ers.

okay, this is a bit of a mor­bid take on mat­ri­mony: ty­ing the knot has its ben­e­fits, af­ter all. Mar­riage en­cour­ages many time­less val­ues, such as pa­tience, com­pro­mise, com­pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing. ad­mit­tedly, th­ese are all traits you wouldn’t need if you had just stayed sin­gle, but bet­ter to get hitched than end up alone, right?

Not so, ac­cord­ing to the char­ac­ters of Mar­ry­ing Me. The mu­si­cal is a love story with a dif­fer­ence: the tale of a woman who dis­cov­ers that de­spite what fairy tales tell you, hap­pi­ness is not al­ways found in the hand­some prince who sweeps you off your feet. rather, one must learn to love one­self be­fore one can give or re­ceive love from oth­ers.

Fea­tur­ing beau­ti­ful melodies, clever lyrics, laugh-loud hu­mour and a quintessen­tially Malaysian story, the show is rib-tick­ling and heart-warm­ing all at once.

Mar­ry­ing Me fea­tures an all-star cre­ative team, with book by Mark Beau de silva, lyrics by Ella rose ilar­i­ous com­edy and poignant drama come to­gether in Mar­ry­ing Me, A New Mu­si­cal Chary, and mu­sic com­po­si­tion by onn san.

The show, which ends its Kuala lumpur run this weekend, is di­rected by Christo­pher ling, with a cast com­pris­ing stephanie Van Driesen, san­dra sodhy, Tony leo sel­varaj, Chang Fang Chyi, Joel Wong, Ben­jamin lin, aaron lo, ab­dul Muhaimin, Ho lee Ching and Tan Yi Qing.

The mu­si­cal spins the story of stephanie, a lib­er­ated sin­gle 30year-old who leads an NGo for abused women: the so­ci­ety of Con­sol­i­dated Women’s league (sCoWl). With ev­ery­one around her ty­ing the knot, stephanie just wants to live on her own terms, but her mother and med­dling aunt have other ideas.

af­ter her mother fakes an ill­ness and makes a “dy­ing wish” to see her mar­ried, stephanie turns to Tony, an old flame. But is the both of them com­ing to­gether truly a good idea? in a twist of fate, stephanie ends up do­ing some­thing truly un­con­ven­tional: mar­ry­ing her­self!

Mar­ry­ing Me’s strong­est point is how in­cred­i­bly re­lat­able it was: the mu­si­cal is full of lo­cal flavour, from lahs and hahs to ref­er­ences to eat­ing at Jalan alor and buy­ing prod­ucts from amway. it even had an en­tire song about kopi O!

Mar­ry­ing Me’s mu­sic spread – all melodic and catchy – bal­ances well with the show’s witty lyrics.

The many ref­er­ences to lo­cal Malaysian cul­ture is an ad­mirable feat, given the lyri­cist is an amer­i­can!

High­lights, then? The group num­ber That’s What’s Nor­mal and the show’s soar­ing theme song Mar­ry­ing Me. also won­der­ful is the vil­lain song Win Win: what do you say about a num­ber fea­tur­ing, among other things, a woman who gets a BMW af­ter threat­en­ing sui­cide?

What is most ad­mirable about Mar­ry­ing Me, how­ever, is its hu­mour and heart. Billed as a screw­ball com­edy, the show def­i­nitely de­liv­ers on the laughs (al­though some of the slap­stick an­tics can be a bit over-the-top): yet it also ex­plores dark themes such as do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, mar­i­tal ex­ploita­tion and so­ci­etal pres­sure.

Mar­ry­ing Me han­dles ev­ery­thing ef­fec­tively, never triv­i­al­is­ing its story with too much com­edy or suf­fo­cat­ing it with too much drama.

act­ing is gen­er­ally solid. Van Driesen plays the role of stephanie well, prov­ing to be en­gag­ing whether belt­ing her heart out in a pow­er­ful bal­lad like Su­per­hero, or ca­jol­ing au­di­ence mem­bers to sing along to the ridicu­lously laid-back and catchy Solo Hon­ey­moon.

sodhy also plays up her role well as san­dra, who is stephanie’s mother. she por­trays her char­ac­ter as sweet and ex­as­per­at­ing at the same time (like most moth­ers!), while sel­varaj in­fuses his role with a de­light­ful charm. lin, on the other hand, re­ceives many of the big­gest laughs of the show with his por­trayal of stephanie’s best friend, the flam­boy­ant leroy.

al­most steal­ing the show, how­ever, is Chang, who plays aun­tie Gertrude, the show’s vil­lain. Whether singing or strut­ting on­stage with a de­lec­ta­ble air of su­pe­ri­or­ity, her stern and un­re­lent­ing char­ac­ter is al­ways a de­light to watch, a lady Hitler with a busi­ness suit and perm.

While well-crafted, Mar­ry­ing Me is not per­fect. stephanie’s story is told quite well, but Tony’s is slightly un­der-de­vel­oped. a de­vel­op­ment that he is afraid of “be­com­ing a mon­ster” also ap­pears a bit con­trived. sounds like a last-minute plot re­think here. The char­ac­ter of ah Hee, Gertrude’s younger brother also seems mostly su­per­flu­ous, im­por­tant only for comic relief (in a play al­ready full of wacky roles!).

all in all, Mar­ry­ing Me re­mains a strong pro­duc­tion – de­spite all the ro­mances de­picted through­out end­ing poorly. Trust the lov­able char­ac­ters, gen­er­ous doses of hi­lar­ity and solid mu­sic to de­light most au­di­ences.

Mar­ry­ing Me, A New Mu­si­cal runs daily at KLPac, Sen­tul Park, Jalan Stra­chan, off Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur till Dec 22. Tick­ets are priced at RM53 (adults) and RM33 (stu­dents, TAS card hold­ers). Visit www. tick­et­pro.com.my or call 03-40479000 to book tick­ets.

Not so en­thu­si­as­tic: it seems that ev­ery­one in Stephanie’s life is more ea­ger for her to get mar­ried than Stephanie her­self. in mar­ry­ingme,aNew­mu­si­cal, the lead role is played by Stephanie Van driesen.

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