It was 6.30pm on a Wednesday evening. A time of packing up, a time of leaving school (well, for most of us), a time for heading home. But for the people behind this year’s Law IV Musical, the night had barely begun!
My fellow interviewer, Jia Min, and I, found ourselves in the Auditorium just this Wednesday, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was to eventually become the awesomeness that is Law IV. And what a glimpse we got — a full band, working hard at perfecting their art; a partially set up stage set, decorated with handmade props and knick-knacks very reminiscent of the 90s; some of the cast of Law IV, hard at work practicing their lines, and who else but the producer of Law IV 2012, Michael, who greeted us with a firm handshake and an “Ah, our friends from Law Annual are here!”
We had to wait a bit before the rest of the cast of Law IV arrived before we could begin the interview. But no one was complaining. During that wait, we observed the camaraderie amongst the Law IV cast and crew, and one couldn’t help but feel that this would translate very well on stage in their respective roles.
Finally, the stage was set, and all the players were in. The mikes were rigged, and the camera was about to roll.
Upon noticing that the interview was going to be videotaped, one of the crew of Law IV exclaimed, “Huh, interview on camera?! But I very shy leh.” Such sweet irony. (:
This year’s musical, as Michael and the director, Bertinus (or Bert), were eager to point out, is going to be a very special affair indeed. Originally, according to Michael, Law IV 2012 wasn’t even going to be a musical in the first place.
“We wanted to do a film this time round, partially because we have people trained in the ‘film’ department.” Michael explains. “In the end, we put it to a vote and decided to stick with tradition. But we still wanted to do something different.”
For starters, Law IV this year is definitely not going to be a ‘traditional’ musical. The format of the stage play will not be limited to just the live performance — amongst other things, videos will be interspersed with the live performance, to quite dramatic effect.
“We wanted to achieve some kind of movie within a play, or play within a movie,” explained Bert.
Different performance genres will also be melded into the show. Even the music this time round is going to be different!
This patchwork nature seems not only to pervade the format of the musical but the characters of the cast and crew as well.
Michael helped us sum it up: “It’s almost like all of us came together and asked ourselves ‘what looks great, what sounds great’ and just put it all together. Part of [the aim of Law IV] is just to have fun along the way. So the vision really was to come up with something fun, something everyone would enjoy, and not so much ‘WE HAVE TO DO A MUSICAL’ and be technically perfect.”
Where did you get your inspiration from, writing a musical and all from scratch, I wondered. Michael told us that the script was the brainchild of Charissa, a fellow Year 4 batch-mate, who one day had an idea of a video store struggling to survive in the modern world. The crew simply took the story and ran with it for one-and-a-half years, and it grew into the musical that is Law IV.
The story goes like this:
Once upon a time not too long ago, there lived two sisters, Bee Lian (Tay Bing Wei) and Geok Lian (Loh Chiu Kuan). Known as the ‘Lotus Sisters’, Bee and Geok have been running the Golden Lotus Video Store since the 1980s, providing generations with the fantasy and entertainment which only Technicolor VHS tapes are capable of providing.
Jasmine (Samantha Shing), Bee’s doe-eyed and impressionable little girl, helps out at the store along with her mother and aunt, as well as her neighbour, childhood friend and schoolmate Lorenzo (Tan Yu Hang). Being surrounded each and every day by the sparkle and glamour of movies, movie stars, and Hollywood, Jasmine longs to one day create her own perfect Hollywood happy ending.
Fast-forward, and it is already 2012. Technology has rendered videotapes obsolete, except to a few determined collectors. Golden Lotus Video Store has certainly seen better days, and lack of profit threatens to shut it down. To make matters worse, our sweet Jasmine (now a law student) has been charmed silly by one Nathan Pok (Gregory Ang), an overnight Youtube and television sensation (like so many we know of these days) with his slick moves and irresistible charisma. Jasmine runs off with Nathan, away from Golden Lotus, away from her mother, her aunt, and her best friend Lorenzo, and heads to the big city to fulfill her big dreams.
All this time, the shy, retiring, but hopelessly-devoted Lorenzo watches from the sidelines, watching his dear friend morph into someone he does not recognize any more.
Will Golden Lotus and Jasmine disappear forever? Will they manage to rediscover what makes them truly special inside? Can their old dreams survive the harsh reality of this new age?
Will Lorenzo get the girl?!
“It’s a bit like 881 actually!” observes Samantha, who plays our female lead Jasmine, the “girl next door”. Samantha does look pretty doe-eyed and young, one admits. I ask Michael and Bert whether they were looking out for any particular characteristics or personalities in their actors during auditions.
Michael admits that it wasn’t easy, because they had to find people who could play characters talking in their heads, and slightly schizophrenic characters who had to have two personalities at once.
I was thus curious as to whether any of the cast were similar to the characters they played.
“NO!” came the resounding consensus.
“I am not like the character I play at all!” laughs Bing Wei, a strapping young man who plays Bee Lian, Jasmine’s mother. Wait, her mother?
“Bee Lian is the BOSS, damn awesome, always in control, and always laying the smack down on this guy,” explains Bing Wei, point to Yuhang. Yuhang flinches, with a look I can only describe as pure terror.
Maybe not so different from their characters after all.
Another such character is Chiu Kuan, who plays Geok Lian, Jasmine’s aunt. I look at her; she’s a demure, collected, and right proper young lady.
“Geok Lian’s crazy, hiao, bimbotic, and an ex-getai singer all in one!” laughs Chiu Kuan.
“Her character is actually extremely cute, and says inappropriate things all the time!” Samantha informs us gleefully.
Well, there goes prim and proper.
“But in the end, our amazing cast just really fit their roles perfectly!” beams Michael.
“I disagree,” pouts Gregory, who plays our sneaky little heart-stealer Nathan (“He’s actually quite vulnerable on the inside okay!”). He’d better disagree.
“In fact,” continues Michael, seemingly oblivious, “One such character was Yuhang! I remember he came in [one day] and said he had absolutely no experience at all, and suddenly he’s the main character! Everyone is great!”
Michael then rounds on Gregory. “So, Greg, why do you disagree?”
“I just don’t fit my character,” insists Greg, looking straight ahead.
“I’m sure what they mean is that you pull off your character off reaaaallly well!” Samantha jumps in to soothe Greg’s frayed dignity. “(aside) God forbid anyone should be like their characters.”
We just had to agree with Samantha, when Yuhang describes his character Lorenzo as “quite sad because he has no game,” Oh dear.
When asked how the cast and crew felt about being a part of Law IV, general agreement was that Law IV was very tiring but very fun. How tiring? Think three hours every night since school started, and now weekends as well as the premiere draws closer.
“But honestly, the hours are nothing much at the end of the day and everything’s worth it,” says Bing Wei, and everyone nods and murmurs in agreement.
Did any of you have any singing or drama background which would have made things easier, Jia Min asked.
Surprisingly, none of the cast of Law IV are musically- or theatre-trained! We are stunned.
“We are all amateurs,” says Bing Wei with a grin, but judging from the little snatches of singing we’ve heard before, Jia Min and I beg to differ.
Chiu Kuan reveals that she’s been in a couple of small productions before.
Gregory adds that he’s part of a band called Vertical Take-Off, which is actually the same band providing the excellent music for Law IV!
However, the cast is not simply thrown into the deep end of singing and performing. They have a vocal coach, Xiang Ting, who is “wonderful, sweet, and patient”, according to Samantha.
“She’s damn good,” gushes Samantha, “So good until sometimes I don’t feel like singing anymore!”
What is the main takeaway you want your audience to have, we ask.
“The main takeaway that we want our audience to have is that we are awesome because we tried something different, because out sets are awesome, our cast is awesome and our set is awesome — everything is awesome. I AM AWESOME.” Bert declares, and we laugh but cannot disagree.
Before we leave, we ask the cast and crew if they have anything to say to their (potential) adoring fans.
Samantha goes, “Come watch and you’ll be entertained!”
“Confirm, chop, stamp,” agrees Bing Wei. “If you don’t think it’s funny you have a problem!”
“The music is really awesome, [and] everyone has really worked very hard on this production — stage crew, props, actors, director, producer! Thanks to Coco who came up with all the dancing! Oh yeah, and the dancers too!” adds Samantha.
Chiu Kuan states very generously that the cast and crew are “really only the instruments, as there are so many others who have worked tirelessly on Law IV behind the scenes, and everyone has really put in so much effort”.
“We hope you guys will just come and support us and enjoy it!” exclaim the cast and crew as one.
“It’s all for a good cause anyway!” adds Bing Wei.
A good cause indeed! Law IV 2012 is donating all its proceeds to two selected beneficiaries, the Tan Ah Tah — Singapore Association of Women Lawyers’ (SAWL) Fund and the Gracehaven Children’s Home.
The Tan Ah Tah SAWL Fund was established in December 1987 by the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers (SAWL) in memory of the late Honourable Mr Justice Tan Ah Tah, who was one of the most supportive High Court judges of SAWL in the early years of SAWL. It was set up to benefit physically handicapped students in need of financial assistance. “We thought that since young lawyers — people from our fraternity — started this awesome thing up, the least we could do is to support it!” explained Michael.
Gracehaven Home is an organization which houses around 160 young people from troubled backgrounds. The Pro Bono Club has always been working with Gracehaven Home, Michael adds. “So we thought we’ll just work with them this one last time to end off our four years of Law School!”
Jia Min and I agree, that Law IV was in fact indeed a lovely way to round off four years of Law School. By the end of the interview, we knew that this year’s Law IV was going to be simply epic and amazing and we simply cannot wait to catch the show. Good luck and all the best, seniors! (:
LAW IV SALES ARE STILL ON: Visit the Law IV ticketing booth right beside the co-op everyday from 10am-2pm. Do not miss this amazing production! GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!
Article contributed by: Tay Jingxi (Law 2)
Interviewers: Tay Jingxi (Law 2) and Thiam Jia Min (Law 2)
Interview transcribed by: Thiam Jia Min (Law 2)