10 years later, Jay Chou’s The Secret movie has taken centre stage again, this time, in the form of a Broadway-style musical – The Secret Jay Chou’s Jukebox musical.
The musical weaved the original movie story plot with 25 of Jay Chou’s biggest music hits to create something that was truly magical. Even Jay Chou said, ‘it was much more interesting than my own concert’.
About the story
The story began with Lu Xiaoyu being shunned by her fellow schoolmates and seek solitude in the piano room where she found a mysterious music score called ‘The Secret’ and travelled twenty years into the future by playing the exact music composition.
In that future, she met XiangLun, a transfer student to Dan Jiang Middle School and they both fell in love. However, because most of the time only XiangLun can see her, people thought he had some mental problems, and that was the same problem for Xiaoyu because no one else believed she time travelled.
The storyline is very similar to the movie, but almost fully told through the lyrics of Jay Chou’s songs of this high school romance. There are a few surprise twists as well.
Selecting Jay Chou’s music
To be honest, after two times of stage managing experience doing dance and music musicals, the idea of weaving tons of famous and classic songs into a storyline doesn’t really impress me, simply because I wasn’t a fan of it, as it felt more like a mis-mash of songs being forced to live together.
However, the integration of the Jay Chou’s songs’ lyrics into the story was almost flawless, and the selection of the songs for this musical really made the story. The music and visual together became fluid and made the story came to life.
Here is the list of Jay Chou’s songs that were heard during the play:
|ACT 1||ACT 2|
The Secret Jay Chou’s Jukebox musical gathered a top Broadway team – directed by Tony award-winning director John Rando, adapted by famous American scriptwriter Marc Acito, choreographed by the acclaimed Zach Woodlee, set created by Tony award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt, sound designed by Kinky Boots Tony Award-winner John Shivers and produced by Tony Award-winning producers Marc Routh and Simone Genatt.
Despite a full western team, the entire production team, including the Chinese production team and crew came together in this major cross-cultural exchange; where both the west and east learnt about each others’ culture when interpreting certain actions and performance as well to contribute local nuances to the script to make it more localised and unique.
The set design and transition were one of the most fluid I have ever seen. The moving sets not only were carefully thought out but also functional. The method of cast exited the stage with a freeze pose and wheeled off stage on top of these moving sets were used occasionally, but it also made the musical have this flipping of a storybook effect, much to how the actual movie would cut to the next scene. It was a definite pleasure to watch the work of the transitions.
Transiting from the Future back to the Past
The one unforgettable moment was when the desolated piano room which was due for demolition transform back to the past — right in front of your eyes. Unlike the movie where CG is often used in present day, the transition presented us on the brilliance of stage magic — and not to forget these were very much the method used before CG was invented.
The production team did mention during the press conference that it was a difficult task to search for the perfect person to cast into the roles of Xianglun and Xiaoyu, as not only the person being cast has to have the look that was already created from the movie previously, they also need to have the holy trio — being able to act, sing and dance.
Ye Xiang Lun and Lu Xiaoyu
The chemistry between Cao Yang 曹楊 (as Ye Xiang Lun) and Wang Xiao Min 汪小敏 (as Lu Xiaoyu) was good. Besides portraying the Asian awkwardness between a guy and a girl in courtship, the harmony between their singing was a delight to listen to (Watch their harmony in singing <<時光機>> (2nd video below). Unlike Broadway opera singing style, the use of modern pop/rock style in addition with a strong chorus that this production packed really increased the value and quality of what a simple Jay Chou song can be.
The musical also packs a damn muscle of a chorus, they are also one bunch of people to watch. Their harmony was so melodious that it brought out many goosebumps on my arms and my fingertips were zinging with emotions.
You can hear how strong the chorus through this song here:
Singers in the chorus to watch out for
There are a few amazing singers hidden in the midst of the chorus who will come out now and then with solos and you can only be surprised that they steal the limelight many times over the main cast. Their command of bringing an entire music from pianissimo to fortissimo was AMAZING!
Ah-Lang, Ah-Bao, Gao Fei and Qing Yi
These strong supporting cast of the musical not only belt out fantastic numbers, the stamina of Ah-Lang wowed me when he performed <<水手怕水>> because not only he needed to act, sing, he also needed to rap the song lyrics, and he was not sweating a bit! I was very impressed with their performances.
Qing Yi, on the other hand, belted jazzy tunes of <<迷迭香>> and <<比較大的的大提琴>> which brought out a different flavour of this modern pop musical.
Watch the male chorus performed <<水手怕水>> in this video below (begin from 2:16 in the video):
Ah-bao in a green sweater, Ah Lang in black Salvatore Ferragamo tee.
The underdogs — Principal Chen and Teacher Ye
Principal Chen and Teacher Ye who also is Xiaoyu’s mother and XiangLun’s father respectively, were definitely the biggest underdogs of the show. They may be singing a few lines here and there with the main cast, but they just bring the house down with their solo.
Teacher Ye’s singing style in the show was putting more ‘act’ into the singing, bringing the music into visual perspective, lyrics turn to a conversation which was a brilliant combination.
Principal Chen’s solo was, however, hands-down the best singing across it all. You got to be there to feel her grief in the song, and you cannot help but feel your heart wrenching for her loss.
Solo numbers to put your ear to
Ye Xiang Lun’s <<擱淺>>
Lu Xiaoyu’s <<晴天>>
Principal Ye’s << 哪裡都是你>>
This is hands-down one of the top three best musicals I have ever watched in my life. The amazing collection of Jay Chou’s songs all weaved perfectly into a storyline made this all one very good musical to watch.
A friend and I came to a conclusion that:
The music and all, it is THE ERA of us growing up. We grew up listening to Jay Chou’s music. Coupled with our favourite high school movie, it was a perfect snapshot of our high-school memories.
TL;DR: Damn good, go watch!
THe Jay Chou Musical only has a very limited season in Singapore. It closes 15 April 2018!
From 6 to 15 April 2018
Tuesday to Friday: 8:00pm
Saturday: 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sunday: 1:00pm and 6:00pm
VIP – SGD148
VIP Box – SGD592 (4 seats)
A Reserve Box (4 seats) – SGD512
Box Seat (4 seats) – SGD272
A Reserve – SGD128
B Reserve – SGD98
C Reserve – SGD68
D Reserve – SGD48
* Excludes the booking fee of SGD$4 per ticket
INTERNET: www.MarinaBaySands.com/ticketing or www.sistic.com.sg
PHONE: +65 6688 8826
IN PERSON AT:
Marina Bay Sands Box Offices (Museum, Theatres, SkyPark, Retail Mall and Hotel Tower 1
Lobby).For more information please log onto – www.MarinaBaySands.com
Go watch the show today!!!
Thank you Base Entertainment and Marina Bay Sands Mastercard Theatres for the generous invitation to the Opening Night show to make this review possible!
Read my other musical reviews:
Evita Musical Review