Story and photos by DENIELLE LEONG

WE’VE seen the professionals do it. This time, the entertainment arts diploma students at KDU University College got to take centre stage to show off what they’ve got in their very first production My Life Is Like Broadway Musicals.

Staged late last month at Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC), it took its audience back to the magical moments from iconic musicals like Les Miserables, Grease, Hairspray, and – for you Troy Bolton fanatics out there – High School Musical. There was even an awesome remake of PoP! Goes My Heart from Music and Lyrics.

However, this production wasn’t just about entertaining its audience. According to assistant lecturer Gabbie Ngoh (who wrote and directed the production), its aim was to expose the students to the “real world” of performing arts.

The musical was performed completely by entertainment arts diploma students from KDU University College.

The musical was performed completely by entertainment arts diploma students from KDU University College.

“We want to train our students to be ready for the industry. Musicals are probably the hardest among all genres in theatre because not only do they need to pay attention to their acting, they also need to learn how to sing and dance – only then would they have the full package,” Ngoh elaborated.

“This gives them all the skills they need when they audition for other productions in the future.”

Clearly, it is the sort of holistic preparation that her students have been vying for. At an interview a few weeks before the show, 19-year-old Fazry Santaroena admitted that although his upbringing revolved mostly around music, he’d always wanted to act – and it was pretty much the case for his co-actresses Shelty Yap, 21, and Shery Chong, 19.

But the actors refused to let their lack of experience stop them. Having trained rigorously with professional coaches since last December, they showed the audience that they really meant business.

“Performing back when I was younger and performing for this musical are two very different things. After our training and rehearsals, I now understand that I’m supposed to let my audience feel the emotions that I feel. It’s a new challenge,” Chong said.

The musical revolved around a typical love triangle, where Fazry’s character, William, is torn between Catherine (played by Chong) and the domineering antagonist Gina (played by Yap).

While the storyline was pretty simple, this production was a good first attempt for the department, where it successfully showcased the students’ potential.

What truly matters is that the students are exposed to every aspect of the industry. Ngoh revealed that even non-performing roles are given due attention, where students are assigned to a mentor for jobs like stage-managing, lighting, and directing.

“The course itself only teaches students the technicalities of acting, directing and script-writing. But through this (production), we teach the students everything, including managing, crew work, and most importantly, teamwork,” she said.


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