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Lao Jiu: The Musical

After eight daughters, a son is finally born – and no ordinary son is he.
Lao Jiu, the ninth-born, is a brilliant young man and the pride and joy of his father. Now on the brink of winning a prestigious scholarship that will ensure a glorious career, Lao Jiu finds himself more fascinated by the dying art of puppetry and yearns to be a student of Shifu, his father’s closest friend. Torn between reality and dreams, modernity, and tradition, he is determined to find his destiny.
Adapted from theatre doyen and The Theatre Practice Co-Founder Kuo Pao Kun’s classic play Lao Jiu, this ground-breaking musical adaption sets Kuo’s classic tale of grappling with familial expectations and fulfilling one’s dreams, against a rousing backdrop of catchy tunes, spectacular choreography and traditional puppetry. Uniting some of the best Singaporean and international talents, Lao Jiu: The Musical blends the sophistication of Western musical showtunes with Chinese pop songs for a fresh perspective to this beloved tale.

Date:  11 – 20 November 2005

Venue: Drama Centre Theatre

Director: Kuo Jian Hong

Original Play: Kuo Pao Kun

Artistic Director: Goh Lay Kuan

Composer, Musical Orchestration: Jonathan Price

Lyricist: Xiao Han, Yang Qian, Wu Xi

Adaption: Wu Xi, Zhang Xian

Vocal Direction: Lim Shieh Yih

Music Direction, Conductor: Belinda Foo

Set Design: Lim Wei Ling

Costume Design: Paul Warren

Lighting Design: Lea Xiao

Hair and Makeup Design: Sunny Chan

Choreographer: Kuo Jing Hong

Puppetry Design: Tan Beng Tian, Rene Ong

Martial Arts Director and Additional Choreography: Low Ee Chiang

Cast: Liu Xiaoyi, Johnny Ng, Lim Kay Siu, Goh Guat Kian, Tan Beng Chiak, Peter Wee, Koh Wan Ching, Kay Foong, Celine Rosa Tan, Ace Chew, Judy Ngo, Andrew Lua Dai Jun, Jasmine Koh, Goi Hoe Chin, Catherine Wong, Lim Aik Meng, Mindee Ong, Justin Kan, Magdalene See, Paerin Chea, Jonathan Lim, Oliver Chong, Trey Ho, Alvin Chiam, Jalyn Han, Zara Tania Chen Weiyan, Zesa Tania Chen Xinyan, Zoea Tania Chen Jinyan, Tan Jia Ning, Chee Kai Wei, Kenrick Chong, Wee Yong Xuan, Quek Zhongyi.

Lao Jiu: The Musical received a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Life! Theatre Awards for Lim Kay Siu. A reworked version of the musical debuted in 2012.

Lao Jiu was born over 15 years ago.

Throughout these years, whenever Lao Jiu is mentioned, those who have seen it have fond memories; those who have not seen it have heard of it. And as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Practice, we ask ourselves, what is the significance of this production?

15 years ago, Lao Jiu gathered a wealth of talents- from the experienced and wise elder statesmen, to the mature middle generation, to the young and vibrant youngsters. That was a grand gathering. The sparks generated by masters like Kuo Pao Kun, Ren Baoxian Laoshi, Li Zhewen Shifu still resonate among us.

15 years ago, Lao Jiu was also a milestone for many who are still active in the theatre scene today. For some, it was the beginning of their artistic career, for others it gave the momentum that pushed them into committing to theatre as a life-long pursuit.

Why is there such strength in Lao Jiu? I believe the answer lies with the story.

After much anticipation, a family finally gets a boy. Just when he is about to win a prestigious scholarship, the boy suddenly questions his quest and direction in life. On one hand, he has a precious opportunity that could bring glory to his family and allow him to climb life’s ladder of success; on the other hand, there is the dying art of traditional hand puppetry, attracting him with all its magic and wonders. What will he choose?

In the end, what Lao Jiu wants is merely the space to choose.

Like Lao Jiu, young people today are faced with similar difficult options. Would family, teachers, friends, classmates, our educational system and social structure accept the importance of having a choice? Would all those around us understand that the search for direction and the pursuit of ideals are essential in the process of finding meaning to one’s life? In an environment that emphasizes so much on material gain, the two hours spent watching Lao Jiu offers a sanctuary where one could pursue ideals, where one could dream. Therein lies the strength of Lao Jiu.

Like Lao Jiu, many members of this production too are facing the same challenges. Among them are civil servants, teachers, businessmen, insurance salesmen; there are those who studied civil engineering, electronic engineering, chemistry, law, architecture and business. Theatre is a space that allows them to “think the impossible, dream the fantastical.” Unlike 15 years ago, there are more among this group who are professional actors and theatre practitioners, even though they still need to deal with financial stress and objections from family and friends. In return, the fight is for the opportunity to walk the path they choose. In the last six months, we have all come together and dedicated ourselves to this production. Therein lies the common vision we share with Lao Jiu.

Today, as we gather artists from Singapore and overseas “in search of dreams” in this production, we hope that it brings you to a space where you too can dream Lao Jiu’s dream.

Today, as we stand on the shoulders of giants, we are nourished by their strengths. Fifteen years later, we continue to pursue the arts, chase ideals. We continue the journey of Lao Jiu.