Emotional Passage Beyond musical left audiences crying for more
Hong Kong's first symphonic musical delivered drama and power to a story about love that conjured up emotions more effectively than tear gas.
Passage Beyond, an award-winning theatrical musical premiered by Actors' Family in 2009, took a new orchestral form for six shows which ended yesterday.
The all-Hong Kong cast - from composer to conductor - of the city's first musical with a full orchestra, drew full-house audiences, including celebrities such as actress Rebecca Pan di-hua, and Gabriel Leung, the dean of the University of Hong Kong's medical school, despite the Occupy Central protests.
Sung in Cantonese by the original cast of 12, the 20 songs held a strong storyline through ear-pleasing melodies and lyrics, all ingeniously crafted by composer Leon Ko and librettist Chris Shum. The effective orchestration by Anna Lo and the versatile delivery by the 50-plus players of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta set a high note.
What truly stood out was the refined singing, both solo and group. The beguiling voice of Jarita Wan, who sang the innocent tune of a young daughter in the final moment with her beloved father, drew not a few tears. Chu Pak-him, the father, delivered some of the most moving singing as a loving father and as a son seeking reconciliation with his own critical father. Ensemble singing too was balanced and effective. The duet of a deceased daughter with her surviving mother in Why Can't You See Me? featured an excellent harmony line that probably drew the first tears when the two embraced at the end of the song.
The vocal quintet in The Quiet Family provided a light moment in the 105-minute show. The intricate texture for the five voices could be challenging in a live performance, but the professionals did not need a second take to draw another round of tears when four of the family of five bid farewell to the only survivor.
The full-bodied orchestral line was prominent throughout the play, such as the march in Mama is Coming, the only new song not in the original musical.
The lovely coda, with all singers standing on both sides of the stage, provided a moment of limelight for the orchestra under conductor Yip Wing-sie. Then it was all cheers and no more tears from the enthusiastic audience.