“Where do i begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be,” begins the theme song of Love Story, the hugely popular 1970 American romantic film, which is still winning and breaking hearts of viewers across the globe. Inspired by Erich Segal’s best-selling novel of the same name, the tale follows the bitter love story of a young couple discovering and celebrating the meaning of love and life together. In 2010, a new musical adaptation was produced at the Chichester Festival Theatre in the UK, with book and lyrics by Stephen Clark, and music and additional lyrics by Howard Goodall.
“I caught the musical with Khor Seng Chew, who is the resident producer of Dama Orchestra’s musical productions, at the Duchess Theatre in the West End in 2011. We loved it. And that triggered our interest to explore the possibility of staging the work in Malaysia,” states the artistic director of Dama Orchestra Pun Kai Loon, adding that it is interesting to note that the West End production was also the production debut of Michael Ball, Britain’s leading musical theatre star and award-winning artist.
A well-respected figure in the performing arts scene, Kai Loon took interest in the performing scene during his studies abroad in the ‘80s. After his return, it was further consolidated when he studied acting under the tutelage of Mustafa Noor in Drama Centre, Kuala Lumpur. However, his eventual progression to directing came in 1991 when Dama kicked off its music theatre production Spring Kisses Lover’s Tear. And since then, Kai Loon has directed more than 30 shows, including several productions staged in Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and China. Notable directorial credits are Fragrance of the Night and Love without End, both are Malaysian Boh Cameronian Arts award-winning productions. “Theatre is therapeutic for me. It’s intriguing too. I enjoy very much the stories they tell of our human existence and condition, and our aspirations too, not forgetting its underlying educational element,” he replies.
Read the full interview in our June 2017 issue.