Ethe­real star

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - By SETO KIT YAN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

SHE was dressed all in white. It looked like she was ra­di­at­ing light. It was quite an ethe­real sight.”

That was Clifton Ko Chi Sum’s mem­ory of his first meet­ing with Anita Mui Yim Fong (1963-2003). If the Hong Kong film­maker-turned­mu­si­cal pro­ducer seemed un­usu­ally po­etic, it was be­cause he was in the pres­ence of Hong Kong’s most iconic en­ter­tain­ment diva.

“I was starstruck, and com­pletely rooted to the spot. Many thoughts ran through my mind, but I could nei­ther speak nor move. At that time, Anita was al­ready a big-time star, an icon in the Hong Kong en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. And, I was just a small­time film di­rec­tor.

“She no­ticed me star­ing and im­me­di­ately of­fered a smile. Then, she ap­proached me and of­fered her hand as she in­tro­duced her­self. Af­ter that, she sat down and con­tin­ued with her work,” re­called Ko, who mused that Mui’s beauty was fur­ther matched by her kind­ness and gen­eros­ity as well as her pro­fes­sion­al­ism and per­fec­tion­ism.

Speak­ing at a me­dia con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur to pro­mote A Mui Live 2014, the 55-year-old di­rec­tor re­galed lo­cal me­dia with tales of Mui’s splen­dour.

“On the set, Anita was a com­plete pro­fes­sional. Even though she was a big star, she ac­tu­ally be­haved like a new­comer dur­ing film­ing. Un­like oth­ers who would crack jokes and even play the fool on the set, she would sit qui­etly and study her script thor­oughly. She took her work se­ri­ously and made sure ev­ery take was per­fect, and was care­ful to never waste any time.

“When we filmed Anita’s parts in a movie, she would per­form ev­ery scene per­fectly in one sin­gle take. At most, she would de­liver a sec­ond take to of­fer another op­tion. But, never more than that,” said Ko, singing praises of the Hong Kong star who was dubbed the “Madonna of the East” and had some 40 films and 50 al­bums to her name.

“To me, Anita was the quin­tes­sen­tial en­ter­tainer. A su­per­star much like other stage di­vas such as French singer Edith Piaf and Chi­nese songstress Zhou Xuan. Ex­cept, Anita’s life was 10 times more tragic. Born in poverty, she had to work hard for ev­ery­thing in life. Then, when suc­cess came to her, it seemed like she had ev­ery­thing, fame and for­tune, ex­cept for the one thing she wanted most of all – love,” Ko con­tin­ued. Mui died at age 40 in 2003 from cer­vi­cal can­cer.

Ten years af­ter her death, Ko de­cides to cel­e­brate Mui’s re­mark­able legacy of mu­sic and film with a trib­ute mu­si­cal in her name. The Malaysian leg of the mu­si­cal com­prises four shows and is or­gan­ised by E House The­atre & Pro­duc­tion and per­formed by The Spring- Time Group (TSTG) from Hong Kong. The pro­duc­tion house pre­vi­ously brought in Shoot­ing Star – The Mu­si­cal (a trib­ute to Hong Kong stars Leslie Che­ung, Danny Chan and Paul Chung), which was also di­rected by Ko.

Play­ing the part of Mui in the trib­ute show is Mar­garet Che­ung Kwok Wing. The free­lance Hong Kong the­atre pro­fes­sional, who has some 20 stage pro­duc­tions un­der her belt, is the fifth per­former to play the part of Anita in the mu­si­cal.

“I did not ask for her to look like nor sound like Anita. Nor did I want her to im­per­son­ate Anita in any way. In any case, that would not be pos­si­ble. No one can repli­cate a su­per­star like Anita. All I wanted was for her to ex­ude a sim­i­lar charisma, stage pres­ence and show­man­ship.

“Mar­garet im­presses in so many ways. Her stamina and dy­namism are among her strong­est points, as are her charisma and show­man­ship,” Ko said in praise of Che­ung, who has to main­tain high en­ergy lev­els for 105 min­utes to de­liver a to­tal of 36 songs.

Ko said that right from the start, A Mui Live is a one-woman show. “One woman on stage, singing, danc­ing, act­ing, in a live show. It is def­i­nitely more chal­leng­ing than Shoot­ing Star – The Mu­si­cal.”

A Mui Live 2014 will be staged at Pen­tas 1, Kuala Lumpur Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre, Jan 16-18 at 8pm with an ad­di­tional 3pm mati­nee show on Jan 18. Tick­ets: RM168, RM88, RM68. Pur­chases of 20 tick­ets and more get a 10% dis­count. For en­quiries and reser­va­tion, get in touch with Tick­et­Pro (03-7880 7999 / www.tick­et­pro.com. my), KLPAC (03-4047 9000 / www. klpac.org) or E House The­atre & Pro­duc­tion (016-715 4345 / http:// ehousethe­atre­pro­duc­tion.blogspot. com).

‘To me, anita was the quin­tes­sen­tial en­ter­tainer,’ says Clifton Ko Chi Sum, pro­ducer of aMuiLive2014.

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