Canto-pop-inspired drama Together returns with new stars
Singer Mag Lam and composer Chiu Tsang-hei make their stage debuts in the revival of a show first performed in October
Trinity Theatre is rebooting its Canto-pop-inspired drama Together, first staged in October as part of its popular Sing A Long series, this time with two hot talents on the local music scene: singer Mag Lam Yan-tung and composer/producer Chiu Tsang-hei. Neither have done any stage acting before, but director Allen Ma Chi-hok is confident they will add to the show.
Lam, who rose to fame after winning the local televised singing competition The Voice in 2010, says she has appeared in movies and on television, and believes what she lacks in theatre experience she can make up for in her singing.
"Pop music is my language. It's part of what guides my soul. Ever since music has existed, humans have used it to express themselves ... for different occasions," she says, adding that some pop songs can be adapted to tell stories, given the fact that they explore a range of subjects and themes.
"You can always find comfort listening to music or humming songs to yourself," she says.
Ma says Lam has been a fast learner: "She loves thinking and is very sensitive — qualities that many good actors share. I admire her a lot and I'm looking forward to working with her again."
Chiu feels both excited and nervous about the upcoming production, which will open on July 23. The composer says he is a fan of the Sing A Long series and appreciates how Trinity Theatre has devoted its efforts to document the evolution of the Canto-pop scene. While also a newbie to theatre, Chiu says that appearing as himself in the production gives the show a sense of authenticity. "Ma knows I'm bad at remembering lines, that's why I'm just going to be myself," Chiu says. "My role is to share my personal stories as a veteran of the local music industry."
Ma says what Chiu is sharing is real. "He's been through the brightest era of the local music scene and is a witness to all its changes."
Together is the third instalment in the Sing A Long series, which started in 2008 as a nod to the 1980s music scene, the heyday of Canto-pop. The first show was so popular it had four runs, each headlining a different lead, including singers Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin and Kary Ng Yu-fei. The second edition ran twice in 2013, both featuring Crystal Cheung Man-ka, a member of girl band Hotcha, as a salute to pop icon Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death.
Acoustic duo Robynn and Kendy appeared in last year's production of Together, which reminisces about the bygone era of music CDs and looks at how pop music is consumed today. Appearing alongside Lam and Chiu will be Malaysian singer Karen Kong.
As a director and Canto-pop enthusiast, Ma is happy to combine his passions in this stage series. And other than working with theatre newcomers, producing these shows presents its own challenges.
"I have to ensure it doesn't turn into a pop concert, which can be challenging as all the songs we use are very familiar to the audience," he says. "Every time I write the script, I'd spend a lot of effort to intertwine the songs and lyrics with the narrative."
But judging from the number of reruns and new editions, his quest to explore our relationship with pop music by the means of a musical seems to be faring well.
"Many people who have watched our shows feel that they are almost like an almanac documenting the history and changes in the Hong Kong music scene," adds Ma.
"For our fourth instalment, we're looking to pay tribute to more singers. I haven't decided who yet, but George Lam Chi-cheung and Faye Wong are the top two that I would love to explore."
Sing A Long 3 — Together, Hong Kong Arts Centre Shouson Theatre, 2 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, July 24-26, July 29-August 2, 7.45pm, August 2, 2.45pm, HK$250, HK$350 Urbtix. In Cantonese. Inquiries: 2838 8569