This Australian-Malaysian collaboration is all set to be a fun-filled family show.
THE city is under the spell of an evil vizier who has imprisoned the king and enslaved the princess. The citizens are helpless, lost without a leader to lead them. Sinbad and his crew should have sailed in the other direction – but then, he’s never one to run away from trouble.
In Sinbad The Musical, a production featuring around 40 performers and a nine-piece band, Sinbad saves the day – or at least tries to.
“I had a lot of fun with him because he is not quite as he seems,” relates writer/lyricist Mark Cleary. “Sinbad has some very interesting characteristics ... for example, he doesn’t believe in magic and yet magic is the only way that he can save the city and the beautiful Princess Yasmin.”
An Australian-Malaysian joint production presented by The Actors Studio and Australian partners, Sinbad The Musical follows the adventures of Sinbad in the world of the Arabian Nights, where he meets a host of colourful characters – good, ugly, evil and to his scepticism, magical.
“I’ve always loved the idea of adventure stories. They are exciting and have a special appeal to children who have huge imaginations and no boundaries,” says Cleary.
The musical, all set to dazzle with 18 original songs, is written as a “family musical” and will appeal to children and adults alike.
“I love to write songs. When the songs also build a fantasy world, establish characters and tell a story – as they must in a musical – it’s even more of a challenge,” he says. “I hope my songwriting partner Drue Hoile and I have succeeded.”
Although the musical’s plot is not directly connected with existing Sinbad stories, it inherits much from them. Cleary clarifies: “As a foundation ‘world’ in which to build a new story, The Arabian Nights has a lot of appeal and Sinbad is probably the best loved of all the characters from it – which of course includes other universal favourites like Aladdin and Ali Baba.”
Mikey Hart, who plays the swashbuckling hero Sinbad, describes his character as “charming, full of bravado and gusto, but sometimes not very bright”.
At the press conference last week, we were treated to a preview of the show where Hart’s character came across as affable, and yes, all charm, bravado and swagger.
“He can be hot-headed and oblivious to all around him when he is on a mission to achieve something. He ‘acts’ the part of the hero very well, but when faced with reality, may think twice!” says Hart.
Highlighting that he sees many similar attributes between the two characters, he draws part of Sinbad’s larger-than-life personality from James Marsden’s delightfully narcissistic Prince Edward in the 2007 movie Enchanted.
“The difficult part with playing Sinbad,” says Hart, “is keeping the charm, and not losing it to a ‘macho’ style image, which can happen quite easily when facing up to certain characters.”
The polar opposite to Sinbad as far as magic is concerned is Anrie Too’s Fatima, leader of the underground revolution, and a champion of magic. “As a mesmerist and magician, this character is filled with intrigue. No one truly knows her full agenda, but she knows it all,” says Too.
To fully delve into the character, she felt it was essential to examine the reason behind Fatima’s existence and the intention behind her lines. “After discovering the root of her existence, I looked into videos of mesmerists and magicians to educate myself on some of the gestural traits I could adopt for Fatima,” she says.
Too imagines rebel leader Fatima as a strong and charismatic character, one strong in spirit and able to command attention effortlessly. Befitting a musical, she strives to give her a memorable voice as well.
“I believe Fatima needs to have a very distinct voice to represent her. Therefore, I took some large steps vocally to ensure that I do this strong character justice,” shares Too. Complete with elaborate costumes – sequins, bling, and outrageous headgear (some bigger than the actors!) – Sinbad The Musical is an ambitious project, one that director Joe Hasham refers to as “the biggest production” they have embarked on.
Others from the cast include 15-year-old Siena Elchaar as street urchin Hajji, Gene Sha Rudyn as the vizier, Ric Herbert as Suliman, and Ohna Nabrissa as Ezra. Omar Ali and Alfred Loh plays the Caliph and Huzzah, respectively.
Joe adds, “Sinbad has a great story and an unbelievably talented cast – from Malaysia, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines.”
And the dream? To bring this musical to other parts of the world.
Sinbad The Musical will run at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur) from April 11-27, before heading to the Performing Arts Centre of Penang from May 2-11. Tickets range from RM80 to RM150. Special rates for senior citizens/students/the disabled/TAS card holders apply. Visit www.sinbadthemusical.com, www.theactorsstudio.com.my, www.klpac.org or call 03-4047 9000 for details.