Events

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Cantonese Opera anyone?

Filed in Entertainment Ind., EventsTags: , , ,

Just before we left for Macau for the International Series of Mahjong competition, I received a telephone call from ATV. They wanted me to perform in the National Day Cultural Night production 「香港同胞慶祝中華人民共和國成立五十九週年文藝晚會」, which was cool, but what was even cooler was that they wanted me to perform Cantonese Opera!

My part in the performance was only 30 seconds long but it was special. Ten days before the show, I had the music and lyrics. Then on Friday, five days before the show, I had my first 2-hour lesson in Cantonese Opera followed by another lesson on Sunday morning. That was it. The rest was up to me.

I knew it was going to be hard because we would be performing live, and because the show would be broadcast through much of China, so I worked hard to memorise the song and spent one to two hours every day rehearsing the routine on our balcony.

On Wednesday afternoon before the performance, we had rehearsals, my first time to work with renown masters of Cantonese Opera 梁漢威先生 and 尹飛燕小姐. Rehearsals went fine, and then there was more fun to be had. I was to be dressed in full Cantonese Opera robe with full makeup. Yippee!

My nerves were steady for most of the day, but by the time I reached the stage, my heart was racing a lot faster than I would have liked. Near the end of the first sentence of the song, with adrenaline racing through my body and all of my senses hightened much more than necessary, in my mind, I momentarily forgot a character in the lyrics. I'm not exactly sure what happened next but I heard the last character of the sentence come out of my mouth and held on to it. Then I smiled, because I knew I was going to be ok.

It was not as good a performance as I had hoped for but for someone who had just had 4 hours training in something as complex as Cantonese Opera, it wasn't too bad.

More importantly though, it was a personal victory. Many years ago, I developed a physiological form of depression resulting from severe and prolonged physical exhaustion, possibly a form of Burnout Syndrome. During that time, whenever I performed publicly, my nervousness would morph into terror, terror that was clearly visible on my face. Those episodes of terror left a mark on me. Since that time whenever preparing for a new performance, I have had to face the memory of those terrors and overcome them. It has only been during the last one or two years that those terrors have gradually faded away, and I have been able to enjoy performing again.

Without knowing it, several of my friends have been instrumental in helping me to overcome the fear of reliving that terror while performing by helping me to enjoy performing, good friends including Fred, Walter and Peisha.

And now, for your entertainment, here is the clip from that night's performance. I make my appearance just after 5:23 minutes into the clip. Try not to laugh too much ;-)

Caffeine free, for now

Filed in Entertainment Ind., EventsTags: , ,

I have been caffeine free for almost five days; no coffee, tea or caffeine-spiked softdrinks. The reason? I have a special performance tonight, a short one, but special nonetheless. It involves singing and Cantonese but it's definitely not what you would expect ;-)

If you want to catch my performance, watch tonight's China National Day show before the fireworks display.

娛樂直播 Interview now online!

Filed in Events, Press, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), WorkTags:

I'm back ;-)

I apologise for being away so long. A lot has happened in the last two months (not London though; more on that later) and it can take me a while to 'recover' after a period of serious mind work (such as writing the new Blog Comment code).

My gift to you today is the 娛樂直播 interview that TVB graciously gave me on 19 March 2007. I hope you like the interview as much as I do. For one short time, I truly felt like a star. Thank you TVB.

娛樂直播 Interview Part 1   娛樂直播 Interview Part 2

Thank you all.

Filed in Events, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), Work

This article will serve as the conclusion to what has been the adventure of my life, "They're Playing Our Song". For ten weeks, we rehearsed and performed the play and it'll always be a highlight in my life.

"They're Playing Our Song" has changed me. It has changed my life. I'm more confident now. I've taken one of the lead roles in a two-actor musical and successfully performed a two-hour show with singing, dancing and acting. I set out to prove to others that I could do it and I ended up proving to myself that I could do it. I think that result was more important than anything else I might have gained.

I loved the experience. I loved the play. I loved the music. I loved the singing and acting. I will be more proactive from here on. I will be sorting out more opportunities to work again in musical theatre and in movies. I will also be studying again (if the institutions will have me) because I want to be the best I can be. I have a few ideas. The future will show whether those ideas come to fruition or not. If you want to know what they are; sorry, you'll have to wait and see ;-)

I believe in the chains of life, and I wonder how many new chains will develop from my involvement in this play. Only time will tell.

I need to thank a few people.

Thank you Henry for giving me the chance to be in this production. It was a very special gift. Thank you for being an incredible person and putting up with me for so long. I am very grateful that we overcame all obstacles, that we succeeded in producing the show, and that we became friends.

Thank you Sompor for being the person you are. You're extraordinary in many ways, especially in the context of Hong Kong. May you find that which your heart desires.

Thank you April for always being there, for being so approachable and for being so efficient with our tickets ;-)

Thank you Eli, Kin Kin and Charles for your guidance, your support and your friendship. You're all talented performers and I feel privileged and lucky to know you all. I'll be sure to keep in touch with each and every one of you.

Thank you Katrina and Karen for being so professional, for being so clear about the rules and your requirements, and for being so helpful and reliable.

Thank you Sai for the photographs. They were fantastic. And a special big thank you for the flowers that you sent to the theatre. I'll always remember them.

Thank you Thomas for your help with the advertisement designs and the jpegs. The 300dpi files were extremely valuable. My parents now have a signed framed A3 copy to remember this special occasion by.

Thank you Aian and Coco for the hair styling, and for your moral support during the show.

Thanks to all of my friends who came and watched the show to support me, even though it is not their practice to watch stage productions.

(anybody would think I've just won the Oscars…)

Thank you TVB for the wonderful interview on 「娛樂直播」. I have never felt so special.

A big thank you to all of the newspapers and magazines that interviewed us and published information about the play. Also a big thank you to the radio stations and the hosts that interviewed us.

Thank you 發哥 for one special phrase you uttered when we met that day in January on Clear Water Bay: 「我唸你唔懶嘅」. You'll never know how much that meant to me, and how it kept me going during the hard times.

In closing.

To answer a common question; we recorded the final performance but it will not be publicly available. There are two reasons for this. First, we didn't purchase resale rights for the show, and second, you can never fully appreciate a stage production unless you're actually there. The recording will never feel as good or as fun as the actual production.

In time, I will be scanning all of the interviews that we had and making them available here. I'm not a very diligent guy though (unless I'm working on a musical ;-) so give me some time to get it all together.

There will be no more articles about "They're Playing Our Song". As a final goodbye, I leave you with a link to this photo album. These photos were taken by Sai during our final full dress rehearsal. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Take care everyone, and never give up on your dreams before you've tried. As Burt Munro says in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" starring Anthony Hopkins; "If you don't follow through on your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable".

Eager to be my best

Filed in Events, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), WorkTags:

During "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" rehearsals, Henry spent a lot of time talking to Sompor, explaining the character to her, extracting the acting talent from inside her and helping her to be the best she could be. It was worth the effort. Sompor was great on stage.

I'm eager to share a similar experience. If you're a director who sees potential in my acting abilities and would be willing to spend time working with me to help me be the best I can be for the production, please send me an email; <gregory at hokwokwing dot hk>. I'm interested as an actor and possibly co-investor in two areas: quality movies, and Broadway musical stage productions; English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Preparing for the future

Filed in Events, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), Work

"Sleep! I can't sleep". That opening line from Act 2 Scene 1 of "They're Playing Our Song" applies perfectly to my situation at this exact moment.

My brain has been working non-stop for the last ten weeks and even now that the show is over, it refuses to slow down. The melodies from the show are still in my head as are occasional excerpts from the scenes, but more and more, my brain is trying to plan my future direction.

"They're Playing Our Song" was the greatest thing I've done in my life.

I worked hard for ten weeks and I'm not going to stop now. I like where I am. I like how trim I am and how fit I am, and I want to do another musical. I have decided to attend dancing lessons locally, and also return to L.A. to get more vocal coaching with Peisha. I may also attend acting school in Europe during the latter half of this year. When the next musical comes along, I want to be two grades better than I was for "They're Playing Our Song".

I have enrolled in four different dance classes in a 黃大仙 dance centre as recommended by a valued experienced friend. My lessons will begin in late April. Two of the classes are not strictly dancing but my friend's intention for the moment is that I learn to understand my body, that I discover my centre (important for balance and lots of other things when dancing) and that I learn the basics of dance. Five classes a week; it sounds exhausting but I doubt that it'll be as hard as the rehearsal schedule we had for "They're Playing Our Song" ;-)   I'll still need to continue with weight-lifting, vocal training and acting exercises so my overall schedule will actually be quite busy.

It is my hope that my vocal chords will fully recover soon and that I'll be able to see Peisha before the dance lessons begin. My current plan is two weeks of daily vocal lessons. Of course, I'll have to see if TVB has anything planned for me first. If they do, I'll change my schedule and work around them.

The singing and dancing of stage musicals have now become an important part of my life. I love the Broadway musicals and I want to do another one; a bigger one, in Cantonese; in Cantonese because a bigger musical production costs a lot to produce and Hong Kong people appear to be frightened of English productions (unless they're imported and marketed extremely well). The only way to increase the odds of making money on the production (I can't afford to do another free one) is to do it in Cantonese, so Cantonese it will probably be (not a problem for me ;-)

Today on Broadway, black actors and actresses are getting leading roles which were originally written for Caucasians. I used to think it was a little odd, but now I'm hoping for the equivalent thing to happen here in Hong Kong; a single Caucasian in an otherwise all-Chinese production! With luck, planning and hard work, you'll see me doing great work on stage again in approximately 18 months.

If you have any favourite Broadway (or London West End) musicals that you'd like to see us (me) perform in Hong Kong and that haven't been performed in the last ten years, please leave a comment.

The adventure of a lifetime ends tonight

Filed in Events, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), Work

今晚同 一班目前幕後嘅人員慶祝我地套劇嘅收視,同埋一齊睇大結局。正!
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想追 就要快啲。聽晚2400將會喺YouTube全部下架。
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睇好戲

The adventure of a lifetime ends tonight

Filed in Events, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), Work

Tonight's is the last show. I'm trying not to think about it. I have to control my emotions until after the play. It's not easy to do but I must do it. It has been an incredible ten weeks. I feel like Goku in Dragon Ball coming out of one of his training sessions. The lessons I've learned, the obstacles I've encountered, the victories we've produced, the friends I've made; it has been the greatest adventure of my life and it's almost over.

I've never considered myself lucky but I've never been so fortunate in all my life as I have been recently. Henry and Sompor are amazing people. Henry's an intelligent, forgiving, understanding and patient director. Sompor is an intelligent natural actress with unlimited potential and a personality to match. We encountered many obstacles during the last ten weeks, some of them extreme, but we came through and we produced a wonderful play.

I chose to do the play rather than take a role in the TVB sitcom series that Brian is now appearing in. I don't regret that decision. The last ten weeks have changed me. I'm a different person now. Life looks different now. I can stand tall and be very proud of what Henry, Sompor and I have done together. The only unfortunate thing about the play is that so many people have missed seeing it.

I've made some great friends; Henry, Sompor, Eli, Kin Kin, Charles and others. These are all incredible people with great talent and I feel so proud and privileged to know them.

There will be celebrations and crying after the show tonight.

My parents are here. I've lived and worked here in Hong Kong for twenty years and my parents have never seen my work. This year will be my 20th anniversary in Hong Kong, and I thought it fitting that my parents should see my accomplishment so I flew them over from Australia. It was serendipitous and fortuitous that the play is in English because my parents will be able to enjoy the play all the more. They will be in the audience tonight, watching our final performance.

What comes next? Henry has his company to run and probably another stage project in mind. Sompor has her Master Degree papers to write and a vacation in Europe to look forward to.

But what's next for me? I have no idea but my instincts tell me something great is afoot, something different to what I have been doing for the last twenty years, a new direction, the beginning of a new road to explore and enjoy. In the immediate future, I will spend time with my parents and my wife, and I will need to rest my voice. There will be no singing and minimum talking for the next two weeks. My voice is important to me, possibly one of my most treasured possessions, and being careless with it would be a crime. After the rest, we'll see what happens next. I may return to L.A. to study more with Peisha. I may have a new role at TVB. I may be filming somewhere else. I may even go to acting school again. I'm not sure yet. I'll take it one step at a time.

Life is truly a great adventure if you're willing to take the risk and go where your heart leads you.