DISNEY IN CONCERT: MAGICAL MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES | Hong Kong, KITEC Star Hall

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This summer, the renowned Hong Kong Symphonic Winds Symphony Orchestra are inviting us to experience some of the most beloved Disney scores of all time, with Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies. Joined by four powerhouse vocalists, and conducted by Fung Ka Hing, the orchestra play alongside perfectly synchronized projected video clips from iconic Disney films, so the whole family can enjoy.

Audiences will be treated to Disney’s most iconic scores and songs, including for the Oscar-winning animated features The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Live action features like Mary Poppins (1964) and the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean film series are also set to be particular crowdpleasers.

This is without doubt the perfect pick for a youngster’s first concert. Founded in 1987, The Hong Kong Symphonic Winds (HKSW) is the first amateur band in Hong Kong with considerable size and structure, devoted to promoting music education in the community. The standard is extremely high, with a number of top professional players among the ranks.

These family-friendly concerts are always extremely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment. There is no better way to fall in love with the magic of a live orchestra than through the magic of Disney.

Presentation licensed by Disney Concerts © All rights reserved

Book online now for 31 July and 1 August 2021.

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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN | Hong Kong, HKAPA, Drama Theatre

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Based on Charles M. Schulz iconic comic strip about Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang, this 1967 musical revue created by Clark Gesner and the original company has won a slew of awards over the years, including a successful run on Broadway. This is just a graduate showcase for the School of Drama Bachelor of Fine Arts students, but boy, you’d never know it: it plays like a professional version.

Despite the quintessentially American trappings with Thanksgiving and little league baseball, it is amazing how this musical takes on new meaning in Hong Kong. With a new Cantonese translation (Wong Cho-lam, Li Wing-hong), there are lots of fun updates like a reference to “Baby Shark” instead of “Frère Jacques”. Even accidentally, in Cantonese, Snoopy’s imaginary fight against “The Red Baron” takes on connotations of the fight against a “red” communist regime. But really, the central themes of school-bred anxiety in children, and “Give me a child till he’s seven, and I will show you the man”, are universal.

Though ostensibly a cast of “actors who sing”, as opposed to musical theatre students, the quality of the vocal ensemble, not to mention electrifying choreography (Tony Wong), is already professional standard.

The cartoon, cardboard-cutout set (Siu Jiou) is a huge part of the action, with a row of portholes serving as everything from traffic lights to Charlie Brown’s (Kwong Oon-hin) anxiety, shown through massive eyes shifting left and right. Get a ticket to the next graduate showcase; you might just be seeing the stars of tomorrow.

Follow the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts online.

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JEW…ISH 2021 | London, King’s Head Theatre

Theatre - Recommended

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“It was a total nightmare from beginning to end. The worst thing is, I think I learned guilt from him. Can you learn guilt?”

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Unleash the Llama are proud to present the long awaited return of the five-star sell-out “hilarious”, Jew…ish, filmed in high definition by the award-winning Shoot Media as part of King’s Head Theatre’s digital on demand season, Plays On Film.

The twisted millennial romcom that absolutely no-one asked for, Jew…ish struck a resounding chord with audiences in smash-hit live runs in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for an Offies OFFCOMM award.

TJ (Edie Newman) and Max (Saul Boyer) are in love; with polyamory, substance-abuse on the Portobello Road and sexually-charged debates about Israel-Palestine. Occasionally even with each other. There’s just one thing: Max is Jewish. TJ isn’t.

Watch as these mortal ‘frenemies’ navigate the cultural divide – amid death, pegging, and two millennia of inherited trauma – in this laugh-out-loud two-hander which asks the ultimate question: is it ever OK to get back with your ex?

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Available to watch on demand via the King’s Head Theatre new streaming service, KHTV, Thursday 15 April 2021 – Wednesday 5 May 2021.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL | London, Dominion Theatre

Recommended

The critically acclaimed concert production of Alan Menken’s A Christmas Carol (1994), with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO), is back on the West End for the fourth year. A soaring Broadway score, the fantastic sounds of a 24-piece LMTO, and a brilliant all-star cast: ​A Christmas Carol ​is perfect family entertainment for the holiday season.

Dickens’ classic festive tale has a brilliant cast this year, starring actor and comedian Brian Conley​ (​9 to 5: The Musical​) as Ebenezer Scrooge, who leads an ensemble cast of over fifty, including ​Jacqueline Jossa​ (EastEnders​), Busted’s ​Matt Willis​, ​Lucie Jones (Waitress​) and ​Sandra Marvin​ (Waitress, Hairspray​).

The creative team could not be more glittering, either. Music is by ​Alan Menken​ (Disney’s ​The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), with lyrics by Lynne Ahrens​ (​Ragtime, Anastasia​), and a book by ​Mike Ockrent​ (​Crazy For You​). Fresh from directing LMTO’s Candide​, Shaun Kerrison directs, with musical staging by ​Tim Jackson. Sound design is by ​Nick Lidster​ for Autograph, design is by ​Dora Schweitzer​, lighting design is by ​Mike Robertson​, and projection design is by ​George Reeve.

In line with the latest government guidelines, ​the Dominion Theatre is partnered with the Society of London Theatre’s “​See it Safely”​ campaign. The production will be COVID secure, with measures including face masks, distanced seating, temperature checking, contactless ticketing, social distancing, cashless payment, enhanced cleaning, and sanitiser stations.

Playing in the West End 7 December 2020 to 2 January 2021 at the Dominion Theatre.

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HK BALLET SEASON 2020/2021 | Hong Kong

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Don Quixote | Li Lin and Hong Kong Ballet Dancers | Photographer: Conrad Dy-Liacco | Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet

We could not be more thrilled that Hong Kong Ballet, Asia’s premier ballet company, is pirouetting, glissading and jetéing back into live performance starting 30 October 2020.

This new season is bursting with classics, including: Don Quixote (30 October 2020); The Nutcracker (18 December 2020); Artistic Director Septime Webre’s Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella, featuring a stripped-down and narrated version of Prokofiev’s score (30 January 2021); Balanchine’s Jewels (21 May 2021); and Septime Webre’s new Romeo + Juliet, with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta on Prokofiev’s iconic score (18 June 2021).

In addition, Hong Kong Ballet will be running turn(it)out festival for two weeks at West Kowloon Cultural District’s Freespace, kicking off with an opening gala on 29 January 2021. The Vivaldi / Handel Project follows on 5 February 2021, along with a ton of interactive, family-friendly activities and events throughout the two weeks.

Artistic Director Septime Webre says that the central theme for the new season is, quite simply, love: “The word “love” infuses absolutely everything at Hong Kong Ballet: love of being a dance artist, and love for our amazing city, which has seen and experienced so much this past year. Love fuels the dedicated work we do, and drives the innovative ways we engage with the community. Love is not about getting – it’s about giving.” Well, we certainly cannot wait to celebrate this love for ballet in Hong Kong again.

Read Hong Kong Ballet’s new brochure and get booking.

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SWIM COLLECTIVE: INSTANT HAPPINESS IMPROV JAZZ NIGHT | Hong Kong, Eaton HK, Terrible Baby

Recommended

How do you like your improv jazz? Completely mental? Then SWIM Collective is for you. It’s unusual for contemporary free jazz to feature a vocalist; three vocalists even moreso. But this is the ensemble’s strength and USP: a highly theatrical, human sound. An accompanying band of harp, keyboard, cello, percussion and electronics allows for a diverse range of expression.

Some of the vocal improvisation is straight out of the Toronto Blessings of the 1990s, a flurry of impassioned tongues, over dissonant spreads of expressionist harp and piano cluster-chords. Sometimes the singers merely coo gently; sometimes they are silent.

One of the most fascinating things about these through-composed, non-repeating, freely improvised pieces, is how the style slowly (sometimes imperceptibly) weaves in and out of free-rhythm effects and anchored, rhythmic, tonal grooves. The whole ensemble are really listening to each other and giving each other space, never trying to dominate the sound. Sometimes this leads to moments of complete silence.

Audience participation is highly encouraged. Everyone is given some tissue paper, and a lucky few are given some spoons. Being conducted in and out, at different volume levels, the sound of paper rustling and spoons clinking en masse is quite mesmerising, and the chance to be involved feels pretty special.

Follow SWIM Collective on Facebook.

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TJOE & NTBM | Hong Kong, Peel Fresco

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It’s hard to put into words how impressive and special this weekly jazz night is at this tiny live music venue near the party district around Central. Tjoe Man Cheung is a young jazz guitarist of exceptional skill, who, despite his unassuming demeanour, is clearly an excellent bandleader too. Moreover, he seems to know every dynamite musician in Hong Kong, so his “jam session” ends up being of a ridiculously high standard.

NTBM stands for “Not To Be Missed”, and this is apt. The actual “house band” line-up might be slightly different each Sunday evening, but whoever you get, you can be sure of a few pre-rehearsed tunes of outstanding quality, hovering around contemporary jazz-funk, to suit Tjoe’s guitar.

But the star attraction is the jam. Musician after musician, every audience member who joins the action is unique and phenomenal. There doesn’t appear to be any sheet music, even for the niche and complex numbers: just a quick murmur amongst themselves of the title and the key, and away they go, sounding tighter than a lot of pro bands. How is this possible? You may find a Japanese tap-dancer joins in with an improvised solo worthy of its own Broadway show, or an avant-garde vocalist improvises disquietingly around a classic, or a drummer changes tack and rocks out on a melodica (à la Jacob Collier).

Audience participation is very much encouraged. A couple of singers get up who are not first-rate, but relish the opportunity to perform. Little percussion instruments get passed around. It’s a steal at $100 HKD entry; although this entry fee is waived for latecomers who miss the main show. The bar is outrageously expensive (think $75 HKD for a Diet Coke) but still NTBM.

Check out all the live music at Peel Fresco online.

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BOYZ NITE OUT | London, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club

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What a week for queer theatre that’s full of joy with a feminist bent! Acclaimed Drag King troupe BOYZ are heading up a Drag King Club Night at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, featuring the well-known stars Johnny Rubber, Wesley Dykes, Fanta Le Mon, and many others.

Sending up the nineties (and noughties) boy band invasion, BOYZ promise: “sweet, sweet tunes, and moves, from your fave decade”. Nostalgia. What absolutely categorises BOYZ‘ drag is its joy, silliness, and inclusivity. It’s a real party, and everyone’s invited.

There is, of course, a political edge. RuPaul’s Drag Race is now fully mainstream, and the bitchy, diva drag queen is now a little passé. Meanwhile, a drag king revolution has been kicked off in London in the past few years by the likes of BOYZ and Pecs: The Drag King Collective.

The show, starring BOYZ and special guests, runs 9pm-10:30pm (doors at 8pm). BOYZ‘ shows are always extremely popular, and seats are unreserved, so get there early to bag a table and a drink. After the show, keep the party going with DJing into the wee hours.

Book online now and save 30% on tickets!

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