Friday, May 29, 2009

Singing with the Dragon

For some unknown reason, Matthew entrusted a cast of "Seussical" to my charge for an educational expo. They performed the first three songs of the show in snazzy bright orange polos.
I can't arrange the photos, I think because my aerobics instructor sent me a virus, so here they are in a lump. I hope:

The one with a kid and me was taken by his mother. She wanted a picture with me and I told her that my mom probably would want one too. Some things are universal.

I saw Seussical at my university a few years ago, but I didn't really get it. I wasn't too hard on myself, though, realizing that a bona fide Doctor wrote the literature on which Seussical is based.

I crooned (not coronered) again at the posh wine bar. I can't wait to take my parents there in July. They will feel so comfortable and at home. Romain and Nicole (two French friends) came to support, so I sang Autumn Leaves partly in French for them. It was a little nerve-wracking. With non-French people, I can fake it and no one is the wiser, but with legit French people, I actually have to say the correct French words, not mumbling with a French accent. Romain said it's his favorite song and he understood every word. Elvis and Michael (potentially a potential) also came out and as I sat there with the 4 of them, I realized that I was the only one whose native tongue is English...but the language of the evening was, of course, English. What a bully my language is.

I also auditioned for The Merchant of Venice, but the director, with great remorse, was unable to offer me a part. However, I will be learning how to play the tuba for a holiday band this year. Everything in life evens out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So, You're Like Zac Efron.

Above is a photo of the cast of "A Night on Broadway," the adult musical produced by the studio where I work. When I say "adult" musical, I do not use the term in the same way American video stores use the term. I could tell it was an adult musical the moment we entered the theatre and I didn't have to tell any of the actors to stop running, jumping, or hitting each other.
Matthew added me to the cast a couple of weeks ago to fill in for someone who had a work conflict. I sang "The Color Purple" which was fun, but the best part was being on-stage with my friend, Angel. She sang a rousing rendition of "Thank You for the Music" from Mama Mia.

Friend support was at a high: Joan, Vera, Tim, Nicole, and Cara all came out.
Kazumi (my roommate, for those just joining the jocularity of AaWaE) and her boyfriend, Kenall.
Of course, my grandma was in the 3rd row, center.
Elvis and company were there. He always travels with an entourage. He even brought people who had never met me. But of course we all went out to eat after--about 13 of us. One of them was Michael, who is also a magician. He dazzled us all with his mind-blowing illusions. Elvis wants to be a tour guide for my mom and dad when they visit in July. I think it's a stellar idea.

Friday, May 15, 2009

At Last

My dream of being a crooner has finally come to fruition. After a day of conceptualizing and writing synopsis for two new shows for next year, my first Putongua class, and a rehearsal for the cabaret musical, I stopped by the wine bar where my friend/church organist plays. It's the only really good live music I've found so far in HK, and Cedric (the pianist, who for the record and to quench the curiosity of my family, will NOT be participating in the "potentials" reality show to be held in July) planned several English songs for tonight. I met the other combo members--wildly talented oboist/singer and guitarist. They showed me the songs they were going to play and when I saw "Fly Me to the Moon," I expressed great delight:

"That's by far my favorite jazz standard."
Cedric: "Okay, you will sing that one."
"What? No, that's really ok."

After hearing several amazing renditions of some classics, Gordon the Oboist announced:
"And now, we have a special guest from Chicago to sing our next piece."
Cedric added:
"Her brother went to the same school as LeBron James!" (This inaccurate statement is residue from a misunderstanding in the far distant past.)

After an intro like that, I really had no choice but to sing--thus fulfilling my latent dream to be a crooner. I plan to sing with them again; next time in Cantonese, which will fulfill yet another hitherto unrealized dream.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do you have your costumes? Do you have the swine flu?

Nothing really beats a deportation blog, so I'm not even going to try.
I have no pictures this time because I'm going through an I'm-Not-A-Tourist phase again. It's working out well. I'm finally able to communicate with the people who work at the noodle shop near my apartment.
Speaking Canto with my friends is one thing, because they know what I say all the time and can speak English to help out. These ladies don't speak a word of English, so I'm on my own. I refrained from patronizing the noodle shops in the past due to the language barrier. I have an unfounded fear that people will spit in my food if I don't speak Cantonese. That's the main reason I'm trying to learn the language; decrease saliva intake.
The pertinent information in AsWaE is never ending.
Life updates--
I'm filling a void in a cabaret-style show next week, the 19th. If you're in town, don't miss it. I sing a solo that only a robust African-American woman should sing. I also play the sister of a Chinese girl about a foot shorter than I. Who came up with the term "suspension of disbelief"?

It's official: I'm staying with Dramatic English for another year! Upcoming projects shall be grand.

The, Dad and The Mother plan to visit Hong Kong in July. I spend nearly every free moment planning their itinerary and trying to figure out if HK is NYC on steroids or Valium.

Speaking of steroids, another "potential" suitor of the moment is what I would call a body-building enthusiast. This is not the reason he has "potential," and is in fact a bit of a deterrent.

I went to Lamma, the island with unwashed washed-up hippies (and Tim) to see some dragon boat races, but we were distracted by a hummus cafe and missed all the races.

I'm assistant directing Seussical--The Musical! with the incomparable Mr. Matthew. Our group will be featured at an upcoming education exhibition or something soon. They'll have an audience of over 400, so we're working them hard to get them ready.

I'm starting Putongua lessons this week at the same place I do Cantonese.

My friend Rita who is living in Beijing was planning to visit last weekend, but she had to cancel due to the swine flu.

I can recognize and write about 50 characters. I proudly disclosed this information to a technician for one of our shows, but the pride quickly gave way to desperation when he told me that there are about 10,000 characters. Only 9,950 to go.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Denied! And BUNS!

I hesitate to tell this story, for it necessarily makes me appear quite irresponsible, but the humour of it all is too much to keep to myself.
For the May Day holiday, a group of us planned a trip to Macau. Tim and the Irish girls were to jump off the Tower, we would see Cirque du Soleil, and then dance the night away.
I used my smart HK ID card to exit Hong Kong, but when I reached Macau immigration, they required a passport, which I had left in the safety of my apartment.
Upon hearing this news, a uniformed officer quickly escorted me into the questioning room where despite my pleading, I was told that I must go back to Hong Kong. I was unable to reach my friends by telephonic communication, which upset me greatly, so my new Immigration Officer friend took me outside and I told Joan and Tim the whole story. I’m pretty sure Tim was laughing when I turned around and went back to the Holding Room to hang out with the drug dealers. I wanted so badly to ask the guy next to me, “What are you in for?” but I figured something would be lost in translation. After about 45 minutes of being detained, another officer escorted me onto a HK-bound ferry where he made sure I did not attempt to flee.

Calculations revealed that I would not have time to go back to HK, collect my passport from my apartment, and take another ferry back to Macau to see Cirque. As my heart sank, I remembered that I have an awesome roommate. Kazumi met me at the ferry with my passport and after profuse thanks, I ran back and managed to jump on the next ferry. It was in fact the very same vessel, for when I boarded one man said, “Hey, it’s you again!” and another said (in Chinese), “That’s the white girl who speaks Cantonese.” Yes, I practice at any and every opportunity.
I arrived in Macau for the second time that day 45 minutes before the start of Cirque. I met the group and we took a couple of taxis to The Venetian to see Cirque du Soleil’s “Zaia." It was spectacular, as expected. And all the music was LIVE. Hong Kong severely lacks in the use of live music anywhere, particularly for stage performances. It was grand.
After the show, we went dancing. I found some single-serving dance-floor friends and immediately impressed them with my Cantonese, which according to the most attractive one was “so (expletive) good!”. It's really not, but I'm not going to kill his dream.

I got back to Hong Kong at about 4:30 the next afternoon after sleeping in one of those Japanese pod things. I rushed home and immediately back out to catch a bus to the ferry pier to Cheung Chau. Yes, it was the day of the world-famous BUN FESTIVAL. I met Matty, Meaghan, Chris (juggler, not gym guy)and Lawrence to go to the island. There, we walked around to view the spectacle. Unlike my deportation adventure, I have photographic evidence of this escapade (they don’t allow cameras in Immigration Interview Rooms).

Above: The BUN TOWER!! In Cantonese it is roughly "Bao Shan" or Bun Mountain.

Some of us with the BUN TOWER!: me, Matty,Meaghan, and Lawrence
The BUNS close up.

A busy BUN bakery. The line to this place was epically long.

There is a purpose to this festival. It involves a god of the sea and eating the essence of the buns. Clearly, I'm an expert on this. Here's some video footage of the main event:

Yes, so they climb up the tower and throw as many buns as possible into their dorsal bags. This is why I love Hong Kong. And of course, we each ate a bun. I chose a fresh one rather than one that had been sitting out for several days for the gods to eat. Proud, Mother?

They also had Cantonese Opera:

Lion Dances:

And it was a public holiday for Buddha's Birthday, so some Buddhist stuff:

But the ubiquitous BUN remained the hero of the day:

They had special ferry services to accomodate the 20,000+ people who went to Cheung Chau (the island usually has only about 2,000), so I didn't get stuck this time. Elvis joined us later and we visited Mah Mah again. No pictures because she was already in her pajamas. In line for the ferry home:

These giant papier mache guys were there too: