Performing arts in Hong Kong

Bug Symphony: City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong's musical for kids

'Orchestra theatre spectacular' targets a younger audience with tale of an orchestra of bugs in a rainforest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 6:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 4:51pm

The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong continues its exploration of different programming by offering Bug Symphony, an "orchestra-theatre spectacular" that targets the younger audience.

Created by Leanne Nicholls - the ensemble's founder and principal oboist - this all-singing, all-dancing musical is the 16-year-old troupe's most elaborate (and probably most expensive) production yet, featuring a host of collaborators, including popular children's entertainers Scotty & Lulu (Scott Ligertwood and Nick Harvey); singers-actors Rick Lau, Jordan Cheng and Jacqueline Gourlay Grant; with Tim Elliott on the conductor's podium.

With music and lyrics penned by Ligertwood and Harvey, Bug Symphony narrates a simple but fun adventure in which Scotty and Lulu stumble across an orchestra made up of bugs in the rainforest and are soon tasked to look for eight missing notes that will complete an orchestral work for the coronation of the Queen Bee. The songs and tunes are catchy and there are insect and "web" jokes throughout.

A lot of thought has gone into this English-language children's production. The costumes, designed by Yoki Lai, are colourful and imaginative; set/props designer Michael Betts and lighting designer Eva Yan use projected images to create a spiralling effect that draws the audience into the action on stage; even the cartoon illustrations for the glossy house programme are beautifully drawn.

The performers are among the best in the local music scene, with Lau in the strong supporting role as Stag, and Cheng putting in a guest appearance as Scorp the Broadway Stinger. Stealing the show, however, is Nicholls as the elusive Miss Orb Spider, who plays the eight missing oboe notes. She proves her vocal strength in her solo.

Stretching over 95 minutes (with a 15-minute interval), the musical feels too long even with good pacing. In the Irish step-dancing sequence, choreographed by Catriona Newcombe and dynamically performed by the firefly dancers in black leggings, the footwork is barely visible on the dimly-lit stage.

City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, HK Cultural Centre Grand Theatre. Reviewed: June 26