The Legend of the White Snake Actors' Family Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Reviewed: February 4 This musical, commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Festival, has several immediate appeals: it's staged by Actors' Family, which is known for this theatrical genre; a Chinese fable in a contemporary context creates an interesting premise; and it stars four popular stage actors (Alice Lau Nga-lai, Bonnie Lam Siu-po, Chan Chu-hei and Gary Tam). The Legend of the White Snake picks up from where the old tale left off. Pak So-ching (the white snake spirit played by Lau) is awakened from an 800-year hibernation and imprisonment and sets out in search of her husband's reincarnated spirit, Hui Sin. She has 100 years to find him, and much of the musical focuses on the final moment of the journey. The two-act production lives up to half of its expectations. The music, composed by Leon Ko, and the singing from the entire cast is superb. From the start, the gloomy music sets the tone for this doomed love affair, but there are lighter scenes peppered throughout the 150 minutes. Ko's score is a mixed bag of big Broadway-style musical numbers, traditional Chinese music, pop and a couple of lyrical duets. The four leads deliver their numbers with aplomb, and Lam and Tam shine, making the most of Chris Shum's, at times playful, lyrics. Yu Pik-yim's choreography is also notable and the Hong Kong Dance Company's Mi Tao makes a welcome guest appearance. The only problem is the script. Perhaps, playwright and director Victor Pang Chun- nam was overwhelmed by the numerous possibilities of where this story could go - and he got lost in them. Several crucial and dramatic moments were glossed over: the way Pak, after an 800-year sleep, simply springs to life with few regrets or sadness; the split-second chance encounter that leads to the discovery of Richard (Tam), who's believed to be the reincarnation of Hui Sin; and the revelation of the identity of the monk Fa Shan (Chan). Pang spends too long on Siu-ching's nightmare and other less significant episodes that could have helped better develop the story.