PETALING JAYA: It is undeniable that human behaviour is influenced by how much money one has at their disposal. This is because money is closely linked to self-esteem, status and identity.
The lack of money can make life unbearable at times just as the lure of it can lead many to do questionable things.
The themes about human behaviour and money are what KULT Productions tackles head-on in their latest offering “Fortune Kooky”, the first brand-new musical comedy to be staged in 2022.
Set in Kuala Lumpur, the musical revolves around Jared, the son of a hawker, who aspires to make it rich by developing a new fitness application.
He hopes to create a better life for his mother Anne, his girlfriend Rachel, and his best friend and business partner Arvind.
As the story goes, Jared receives a blessing from the God of Wealth and just like that, all his dreams start coming true.
However, it isn’t long before he discovers that money doesn’t always equate to happiness. So, in his pursuit of wealth, will Jared end up losing what really matters in life?
FMT caught up with Terence Toh, one of the writers of the musical; Kelvin Loh, the music director and composer; and Lydia Tong, the co-songwriter.
“The title is a play on words as the fortune cookie is an element in the story. The reason it is spelt ‘kooky’ is that the musical examines how when it comes to fortune, money, and becoming rich, people tend to act a little bit crazy,” Toh explained.
He said the musical explores how making money is not always the answer to every problem. Sometimes, it can make things more complicated.
He added that the musical was inspired by the trio’s personal experiences. “Money is a thing that anybody in the world can connect to. So, we figured that it would be really interesting to make a musical about it.”
Directed by veteran theatre practitioner Nicole-Ann Thomas, the production’s ensemble comprises Alvin Looi, Angie Cheah, Kirthana Kuhendran, Lakshmi Ahrunagiry, Nikkhil, Rachel Liu, and Ronnie.
It features over 12 original songs performed live by a five-piece band.
The show must go on
Production for the musical was supposed to start in 2020 but was delayed because of the pandemic. The various restrictions that were subsequently implemented also meant that Loh and Tong had to find other ways, such as using Zoom, to work together on the music.
“We worked really hard [on the music] and spent many nights writing and rewriting as it’s very important for us that the music presented to the audience is something that we feel is great,” Loh shared.
The team also expressed their gratitude to award-winning composer and songwriter Nick Choo, who helped in the initial stages of the music development.
Choo’s previous productions include “Follow The Light”, “The Edge”, and “Dreaming Outside The Box”, which bagged eight out of 14 awards at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre’s (klpac) Short + Sweet Musical festival in 2013.
“He has the ability to turn a very simple melody into something intriguing in terms of its rhythm, chord usage, and harmony,” Loh said.
Unfortunately, the pandemic took an additional toll on the team when eight members, including Tong, contracted Covid-19.
“Due to that, 10 rehearsal days had to be cancelled and 10 days from a two-month preparation is a lot. It’s no joke,” Loh said.
Despite these setbacks, “the show must go on”, as they say in show business – so Toh, Loh, and Tong stuck it out.
The trio have enjoyed a good working relationship for roughly 10 years now and their past production, “The Working Dead”, was nominated for 13 awards at the 2019 BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.
“Our personalities and working styles gel,” shared Tong.
“At this point, the three of us are like an old married couple where we banter and don’t get angry,” quipped Loh, with a laugh.
With only days left before they stage their production, what are some of their hopes for their audience?
“We hope that through this musical, people can think about their lives and how they treat money. Does it make their lives better or worse or do they get a little mad when it comes to money?” Toh shared.
“For me, what stays with me are meaningful songs so I want them to think about the lyrics as well,” said Tong, while Loh said he hoped the music will be able to touch the hearts of the audience.
Date: April 7-April 10
Venue: Nero Event Space, Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre (PJPAC), 1 Utama Shopping Centre
RM64 (students, senior citizens, the disabled)
RM70 (April 7-April 8 shows. Use promotion code: KOOKYWEEK)
RM80 (April 9-April 10 shows)
Tickets can be purchased here.
*Prices quoted exclude a RM4 service fee.
Disclosure: Nick Choo is a Lifestyle Editor at FMT.