What a musical! Directed by Jun Bin Lee, who casually composed all but one of the songs too, How She Flew to the Moon is fun. It is joyful and light-hearted, appropriately exaggerated and melodramatic with all the potential to become a hugely successful piece of theatre, one that can be enjoyed by a large audience, as it was this evening.
I attempted to give a little breakdown of the story for this review, but there’s just so much to tell. Basically the narrative amalgamates three famous ancient folktales: Journey to the West, Chang Er Ben Yue and Hou Yi She Ri, you can Wikipedia it if you don’t know it, I believe in you!
With such a huge story there needs to be a decent sized cast and in this show we’re blessed with a sizeable crowd of thirty seven and in a musical by an amateur theatre group, I had trepidations about how good it was going to be. “Whooey” to them trepidations! There didn’t seem to be one cast member that couldn’t hold a tune. I was impressed.
What I really enjoyed about this was that in this community theatre we are given a show that is genuinely for the community. It’s like watching Disney on stage. It is so G rated that I would take a small baby carrying an innocent puppy with huge eyes to it, just to prove that a person and/or animal without a blemish on their soul could watch and enjoy the play… Although in saying that, Snake (Kazuhide Okuda), the fairly villainous villain, was pretty creepy.
The play is predictable with the baddies losing, the goodies winning, and romance blooming and fools fooling, but it is recognised folklore so it can only be stretched so far and these stories are popular worldwide for a reason. Artistic licence came in terms of the musical direction and the actor’s comedic talent. My most favourite part is where Hou Yi (Eli Moore) proposes to Chang Er (Jenny Luo), which I’m told eventuated from a spot of improvisation in the rehearsal process. It was so delightfully awkward that I am certain this is how all proposals probably occur in the real world.
As in most theatre, especially opening night, there are some hiccups and this came in the form of minor wardrobe malfunctions (nothing like the Janet Jackson slip up – G rated remember), sound cutting out for a moment and the sound levels being a bit off. Unfortunately the music, which drives most of the story, was too loud and there were multiple times that words from songs were missed. Fortunately though, if that was all that was wrong with it then I’d say “easy fix and bring on the next show”.
If you’re a fan of singing, dancing, acting, martial arts and monkeys and you don’t want to have to expel any emotion other than joy then this is something you’ll want to see. Your last opportunity is tomorrow, Saturday 18th August at 2.00pm as the evening show has sold out! Well done to cast and crew for a splendid and easy show.