Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Remembering Rose

Rose, Rose, I Love You succeeds in giving a different perspective on the notorious striptease queen, Rose Chan, and her life behind the stage.

Excitement was in the air when Low Ngai Yuen announced her intention to direct the musical Rose, Rose, I Love You. Many were curious about the storyline while some wanted to know to what extent it would portray the life of striptease queen Rose Chan. Some even asked if there would be any stripping on stage, or whether undergarments would be thrown at the audience.

Rose (Tin Tan, left) and her rival, Xuan (Carmen Soo) arguing about who the better cabaret performer is, in Rose, Rose, I Love You the Musical. – Pics by SIA HONG KIAU / The Star

After all, Chan, known for flaunting her sexuality, was the legendary striptease queen of Malaya in the 50s.

Those who attended the musical’s opening night in Genting International Showroom last Friday would agree that the show was extremely mild by Chan’s standards. The only hint of raunchiness was when Chan (Tin Tan) went “nude” (with the help of lighting) in just one scene.
“Rose, Rose, I Love You is set during the post-war 50s and revolves around the life of a group of travelling performers whose nightly earnings are dictated by the intensity of audience applause,” said Low after the musical.

She stressed that while the musical was inspired by Chan, she had no intention to focus on her sexual exploits. “This musical highlights the difficulties people had in rebuilding their lives after World War II. It showcases the early part of Rose’s life.

From left: Ah Yat (Angie Teoh), Ah Yee (Colleen Daphne Chung) and Ah Sam (Anrie Too), from a cappella group, LiT performers, providing the vocals for the musical.
“We needed to establish her working environment that led her to become a stripper. Through this, the audience will understand how difficult Rose’s life was,” said the award-winning director, whose works include Visits: Hungry Ghost Anthology and The Girl from Ipoh.
Apart from Tin, the cast – comprising Carmen Soo (who portrays Chan’s rival, Xuan), Tony Eusoff (gangster Tim), and K.K. Wong (tailor and transvestite performer Kuk Fa) – did a fairly good job in their respective roles.
In an earlier interview, Tin had expressed concern being unable to speak proper English and portraying a stripper. But judging from her convincing role, one could tell Tin had worked hard to brush up on her English and acting prowess. For this, she certainly deserves a pat on her back.
Soo played a rowdy character (who looked stunning in Melindo Looi’s sexy cabaret costume). It was indeed a refreshing change compared to her nice-girl role in Afdlin Shauki’s Baik Punya Cilok and her sweet teenager role in Low’s The Girl from Ipoh.

Funnyman Wong brought the house down with his jokes and portrayal of a transvestite in a cheongsam and matching wig.

Tony, who recently acted in Tunku the Musical, showcased his versatility in the gangster role. However, he would have been more convincing if he had sported proper attire (and wig) that resembled the style of yesteryear.
Talented music director Penny Low, best known for mixing and re-arranging different genres of music, cleverly incorporated a mix of songs from the past and present.
Vocal backing from the all-women a cappella group, LiT Performers (for which Low is music director) provided extra oomph to songs like Bila Larut Malam (Saloma), The Rose (Bette Midler), Vogue and Material Girl (Madonna), Beautiful Girls (Sean Kingston), Rose, Rose, I Love You (Yao Lee) and Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White) (Alan Dale).

The audience seemed to enjoy the show, which proved that despite working on a tight budget, the organisers managed to achieve their goal of giving a different perspective on Chan’s life. The musical’s most annoying part was its bi-lingual conversations in English and Cantonese. Although the dialect may have been added to make it seem more realistic (considering it is about Chinese performers), it was hard for the non-Cantonese speaking crowd to understand some jokes and the flow of the story.
“Most Chinese performers in the 50s spoke mainly Cantonese and basic English. We will be adding a translation screen to enable non-Cantonese speaking audiences to understand it better,” said Low.

Rose Rose I Love You runs on weekends only and will next be staged from Nov 9-11 at Genting International Showroom. Showtimes are 3pm and 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at RM68, RM88 and RM118.