PETALING JAYA: Once upon a time, there was a brood of hens who lived on Mr Chan’s farm. One might think the hens had it easy! But, after laying eggs day in day out, all they wanted was a break.
The problem was, how could they enjoy a day off when they kept laying an egg every time they heard the rooster crow? Thus, the hens decided to put their feathered heads together and hatch a clucking good plan!
Such is the plot of “A Hen-Made Tale, the Musical”. Presented by KL Shakespeare Players (KLSP), the story is based on an illustrated children’s book written by theatre practitioner and executive director of KLSP Lim Soon Heng.
Directed by Dominic Lucien Luk, the audience can look forward to a witty script and memorable music by Nick Choo with dance choreography by Kenny Shim.
The musical features a five-member ensemble made up of Megan Chng, Sabrina Hassan, Jamie Tan, Nave VJ, and Muhamad Zickry Mohd Yusoff.
Speaking with FMT, Luk, 40, spoke of the many elements throughout the hour-long musical that will keep the audience – both young and old(er) – entertained, such as the endearing hens and the suave rooster.
“We’ve also included characters such as cats and ‘gossip chicks’, which are not in the book,” he said, adding that these characters and extra subplots make the story more suitable for a stage production.
Another exciting element is that the “gossip chicks” are hand puppets.
“I thought it would be interesting to differentiate the hens and chicks by using puppetry. It’s something that children are familiar with, but we don’t see a lot of it anymore,” he said.
Even the costumes are unique as they feature batik. Zickry and Chng are among the actors who will be donning these stage disguises, and they are excited.
Zickry will play multiple characters – hen, cat, gossip chick, and Farmer Chan. “I find playing the cat to be very fun as the movements are really interesting. In certain positions, I find myself having to use muscles I don’t usually use on a daily basis,” he told FMT.
This posed quite the challenge for the 28-year-old as he has scoliosis, although it hasn’t stopped him from giving his best.
Meanwhile, Chng will be playing the roles of the white hen and a gossip chick. “Although they are both very different characters, I enjoy playing both of them equally,” she told FMT.
The bubbly 29-year-old, who has experience in performing for younger audiences, believes it’s important to keep her energy up throughout the show to hold the attention of the kids.
“Even though an hour doesn’t seem very long, the story hits a point where as an actor, you’ll start relaxing. So, I’ll try not to let my energy dip.”
Meanwhile, scriptwriter and composer Choo shared that there will be 15 songs, all performed by a live band. This includes Choo himself on the keyboard, alongside Kevin Theng (drums) and Nathanael Simon (bass guitar).
“The songs are very cheerful, and mostly from the pop genre, with a bit of jazz and gospel. Although ballads are usually the big things in musicals, in this case, we were careful about how we spaced them out because it’s a children’s show,” Choo, 43, told FMT.
In composing these songs, he kept in mind his target audience. “I believe that it’s important not to talk down to children, even in terms of music.
“In a lot of animated movies, songs have a purpose. When a character says, ‘I am dreaming big’ or ‘I am being strong’, the intentions are conveyed through songs and kids identify with that. So, that’s also what we’ve done with this show.”
He hopes the audience will see that there are talented local performers who can entertain both children and adults.
“I believe children’s theatre is a niche market that hasn’t been fully tapped. We need to invest in it as there is a huge potential and I hope that this show proves that.”
As to why adults should watch the show, he quipped: “How often do you get a chance to watch grown-ups playing chickens, of all things?”
‘A Hen-Made Tale, the Musical’ (ages 5 and above)
Nero Event Space
Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre (PJPAC)
1Utama Shopping Centre
School bookings (all sold out!)
• 29-31 March at 10.00am
• April 1 at 11.00am and 3.00pm
• RM65 per person or RM55 for group of 40 pax and above
Tickets can be purchased here. For bookings of 40 pax and above, WhatsApp 012-323 0710.