Saturday, June 11, 2011


It is unusual to chill out on a Saturday night in Brunei with a musical extravaganza. More than the Sultanate's well-preserved conservative culture, most of the people simply shop, dine and socialize through exchange of dialogues over a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, a group of young, diverse and talented individuals made a spin off on Brunei's laid back Saturday nights; a pat on the shoulder of Studio Scene!

Studio Scene, one of the most promising and brightest performing arts school in Brunei, staged their first ever musical play this year entitled "Once on this Island" in a two-day screening. Packed with colourful production design and a line-up of dynamic artists, Studio Scene could be recognized for being able to create a landmark in the field of performing arts by putting up a truly enjoyable Broadway treat.

Once on this Island is a musical based on the novel My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy, that is set in the French Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Apart from its dramatic and poignant Romeo and Juliet plot as portrayed by Ti Moune and her love for Daniel Beauxhomme, the musical kicks off with a scared little girl who was calmed down by four story tellers during a stormy night. Evolving on the mystique of Gods and Goddesses, the story also dramatizes the life of peasants and elite sectors of the society.

Studio Scene has pioneered different shows in Brunei but it's their first time to showcase fresh and even undiscovered talents of their students in a musical. Through a rigorous three-month workshop, the casts were put to vocal and acting lessons to personify the assigned characters. And this is well reflected in the impact of the stage play which was shown in Riverview Hotel.

A shot during the Finale

While there may be some points for improvement such as getting a bigger stage for the actors and actresses to  move around and express their energy, or perhaps getting a more acoustic-friendly venue to compliment the anticipating audience, those points wouldn't make the production less of its majestic value. Truth is, the totality of the play was just amazing. Moreover, this could be pointed out in the different strengths as witnessed by the bedazzled audience.

First, although there were some actors and actresses who fell off key, the musicality and the transitions of each act were smooth. Paired with lighting that is of equal proportion, the stage lighted up with character despite the simplicity of the visual composition.

Second, the musical was packed with talented actors and actresses. In fact, most of the members of the cast were just promising. They were confident and they know what they're doing on stage ranging from dancing, singing and acting intensely. The gods and goddesses were in complete composure. The peasants were snappy. The acting parents were lovable. And the lead actors and actresses were able to capture the emotions of the audience by delivering a riveting sheer character.

Third, musical plays would only make the cut if it sustains a momentum. And for Studio Scene's ensemble, it was able to hit a high point. The casts were in full energy and facial expressions were just affectionate. However, what must be improved are some of the actors and actresses' control in singing their parts or simply by speaking. Blocking could also be tapped for this matter as relevant to the positioning of the microphones. As a result, some lines delivered were just unclear; this could also pointed out in the loudness of the background music. As a recommendation, an appropriate and better venue which is meant for theatrical shows could be utilized on future projects.

Fourth, the rendition of the musical was a success because it was able to set a standard for Brunei's artistry and entertainment. As a former producer and writer in a broadcast company, Studio Scene's first attempt in bringing in a musical in Brunei is just amazing. In Brunei's standard, such musical could be considered a benchmark that truly deserves recognition and admiration. Apart from the production's fashion and overall juxtaposition of dresses, such production combined the different human emotions into a Broadway without overdoing the scenes and crossing the illusion of greatness with exaggerations or big actions on stage.

 I don't care if there were not enough fans or cooling system during the cocktails or I was not frozen to death during the duration of the show, but having watched such production was a breathe of fresh air in the Sultanate. To say that it's pure entertainment is inappropriate. I must say, it is gem that's hard to find in this rich-oil country.
Franz, Jasper and Regie during the Cocktails

Ballet performances during the Cocktails

During the show, I had goosebumps and I felt the characters' sincerity. I was moved by the songs. Indeed, the one hour show was applauded in many instances; that's because the show gave its viewers a dose big smiles,quirky sensations or even some I-want-to-cry-feeling at some acts.

Congratulations to Studio Scene! Well done! Need I say, MORE?


No comments:

Post a Comment