Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review from the New Straits Times

Music's the star of the show

Vince Chong (centre) as Eddy the Frog with Elaine Daly as Suzannah Stork and Harith Iskander as the sinister Smiley the Snake.
Vince Chong (centre) as Eddy the Frog with Elaine Daly as Suzannah Stork and Harith Iskander as the sinister Smiley the Snake.

FARIDUL ANWAR FARINORDIN reviews the musical Frogway and finds the songs outdo the actors who sing them.

FROGWAY, the updated 1980 musical by Michael Veerapen (music) and Marcel Nunis (lyrics), revisits the duo’s adolescent dreams (it was written after they left school) with a simple story about the lure of the bright lights of showbiz. READ MORE...



Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yet More Blog Reactions/Reviews to Frogway

I enjoyed Frogway so much! It was really fun. I laughed so much, now I croak.
We had the front row seats. Really, really, really bloody close to the stage, okay.
Read more @ The Traipsing Gypsy

Last nite I went out to treat myself to a Frogway musical. A little damper at the first half of the nite and it had nothing to do with the musical. It was caused by 2 very rude girls who took our seats.
Read more @ Shifting Sand

Been meaning to write y'all about the re-premiering of this brilliant musical written by Michael Veerapen and Marcel Nunis , one a leading jazz musician in this region, the other a Malaysian residing and working in the USA as the Artistic Director of Theatre J'Nerique in USA, the program didn't mention which part of USA, sorry...
Read more @

I finally went to watch Frogway last night! I would have watched it much earlier if I could, but decided to wait for Airin as she wasn’t free on the other days.. Also, it was a full house screening! Luckily I went to buy the tickets the night before..
Read more with Pictures @ FoOie’s Haven

Somewhere in the middle of this post is a reaction to Frogway
Of Socio, Singing Frogs and Stressful Moms.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Views from the pit (band) other blogs with Frogway pics

HERE ... Julian Chan a member of the 2007 Frogway band writes about playing for the show.

HERE... are some from Tales From The Idol Fellowship


Read the review...
Every Frog Has Its Day by Amir Hafiz @ KAKISENI.COM.

Check out the "COMMENT" section of the event listing at KAKISENI.COM

Somewhere down in this post " Frogway is Toad-tally Fun" is a reaction to Frogway. Though there are some great food pics!

would say, definitely watch the show if you can afford the tickets. They're not cheap and I wouldn't have been able to afford to go (me being a broke 20-something) if the tickets hadn't been given to me by a friend. So I don't know if I found it brilliant BECAUSE I didn't have to pay?
Read more @ Shoobs Boobs

saw Frogway! courtesy of winning tickets from Kakiseni :)
lovely score
Read more @ Audio Addictions

Friday, August 24, 2007

Some Blog Reactions/Reviews to Frogway - updated

Yesterday we had the opportunity to watch FROGWAY at The Actors Studio in Bangsar on its opening night. Frogway is a jazzy, groovy made-in-Malaysia musical, written by Marcel Nunis and composed by Michael Veerapen, and it was first staged nearly 30 years ago in 1980!
Read more @ As Suanie Sees It

Hours before I turned 63, I had a great time tapping my toes and laughing, sometimes both at the same time. I am talking about the opening night of "Frogway-The Groovy Musical".
Read more @ Di Bawah Rang Ikang Kering

Thanks to TV Smith, my dad and I got complimentary tickets to Frogway the Musical yesterday. I for one, was happy to get out of the house. The whole musical was vibrant with colour.
Read more @ - t s a b -

Ahhh... finally.. I'd "accepted" Vince's invitation to watch him perform in Actor's Studio yesterday. Since the premier night (23rd) was fully booked. I only managed to watch it on 24th. Tapi semalam pun kinda full too.
Read more with PICTURES @ Charmant, Brilliant et Beau

Thanks to TV Smith, I got a ticket to watch Frogway at Actor’s Studio, Bangsar Shopping Centre. First thought, wtf…frogs? Too random right. And what’s more, it’s a musical!
Read more with PICTURES @ Narcissism Is Necessary


Yes, I am biased...

I'll apologise first. Sorry, I'm biased.

I was thinking of writing this last night, after I'd come back from the show, but I thought I'd wait and see if I'd feel the same way after I'd slept on it. So I've slept on it, bought a new battery for the car (long story), done a bunch of work, and I still feel the same way. Which is ambivalent. I feel so ambivalent about the show that I'm even ambivalent about my ambivalence, which I know sounds dumb but I'm sure you've felt that way before about something.

The show was pretty good; after all, that's a strong cast they lined up. Music and script beefed up from the original. So why the ambivalence? Don't know, maybe my bias has something to do with it.

In all honesty though, I really don't think I'm biased. I really, really think that the show was decent, but not great. And I really, really, REALLY think that, if I had a choice between watching the original and this 2007 version, I'd rather watch the original (which was decent, but not great either, but for different reasons).

It didn't start too well. You wouldn't have known there was a Croaker's Concert on when all you saw was an incredibly hammy Horatio (who said he had to be a hunched up old guy anyway) gesticulating at a curtain of leaves(?) from behind which came an odd croak or two. Then what seemed to be an interminably long dialogue between father and son which left me fidgeting in the seat. It took a long while for it get moving.

The singing was a bit inconsistent, (unlike in the original where, with the notable exception of Indi Nadarajah, the singing was consistently so-so). "Frogway" and "Think It Over" came out pretty weak, which was surprising considering Vince's vocal ability, and this was a disappointment as the 2 numbers are absolutely critical. Ash Nair made a good fist of it, yet "Freddy's Lament" never really reached the heights. But the biggest letdown had to be "Good Promotion". For someone who had seen Ramani and Indi's raunchy, raucous, rock and roll version in 1980, watching Harith and Elaine's delivery was like watching terrapins mating - interesting subject, somehow doesn't hold my interest. Yes, Harith has the expressions that make him good to watch, and Elaine is, well, good to watch, errr... somebody has to do some singing, right?

The storyline was never difficult and always fairly predictable (sorry Marcel, I know you know you weren't writing The Day of the Jackal) but the ending, when it came was like...HUH? That's it? Sorry, and the point was...?

I've always felt that with the rebellious son, misfit friend, tragic inter-species (?) romance and devious agents, Frogway just had to be a feel-good show. So why didn't I get the warm-and-fuzzies watching it? Was it just me who thought it was rather flat. that it needed a "big" number, it needed a chorus line (it's Frogway, for heaven's sake, you have to have a chorus line)? 3 Frogettes, no matter how talented, do not make a chorus line.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it was a bad show - far from it. It was still pretty good fun but I confess, there were times when my eyes weren't ribbetted (sorry, I had to get that in) to what was going on onstage. I think it says it all when, as another poster has said, Shirley the Frogette stole the show. With a combination of decent acting and a comical accent.

OK, rant over.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If you do go...

Review Frogway the Musical here by using the comment function.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So, it opens Thursday

Any thoughts or memories from previous cast members? Malaysian or American.

BTW... if you have not gotten an invitation to contribute here... send me an email at

If you prefer to not deal with setting up an account to contribute... use the comment function below this post... or email me and I'll post it for you.


Monday, August 20, 2007

This sucks...

It's 3 days to opening and, so far, the number of people from the old cast that are confirmed going for the show is ....2. Well, that's as far as Piggy and I know; hopefully Indi and Jaya will be there as well, so it'll be 4 out of 17.

It's unbelievable that there aren't any more of the remaining members of the original cast who have heard/read about the show, who have gone to the Frogway website, who have come across this blog. What, they don't get newspapers and internet access at their old folks' homes? Arthritis stopping them from clicking on the link to this blog?

I gave it one last shot this weekend. I dug out Raynard's old business card and sent a message to the mobile number on it. No reply. So that's it. Don't have any more numbers to call. WTF.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Looking for the 1980 Frogway cast!

If you were in the cast or crew of Frogway in 1980 email me at . We are attempting to organize a meet-up for opening night of the latest new and improved production August 23.


EDIT: I have included some news links in the sidebar!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

(reprinted from) Picture Daze #10 - FROGWAY

(be prepared for several video views.)

Googling "Frogway the Musical" and here are a few things I came across. This picture (to the right) is the cast of the upcoming production for one. A fine looking bunch don't you think? The director is also an actor of renown. There is also a Malaysian Idol finalist and another emerging Pop Star as well as a former Miss Malaysia/Universe in the present cast. (Here are some other cast photos.) The power creative team includes the likes of a Musical Director who composed this and of course my always amazing collaborator Mike (seen here playing with... believe it or not... my cousin, Jeremy at a recent concert). Even a couple of the Malaysian tourism sites have it listed as an event. Dang... it's quite a change from 27 years ago.

If you have followed this blog you've been privy to how this project came up again... to part of this latest rewrite process and working again with Mike here & here. So, how did this all begin?

On... meeting Mike
Mike and I met through a mutual friend (David Lim aka Kien) who was playing in a couple of bands together - Windjammer & Vintage. (There may have been another club band but the name escapes me at the moment.) Being a student at the time (HSC) I was somewhat of a "hanger-on" for the most part. I think it was during one of the Jazz Festivals/Concerts that Mike used to organize, that he may have first really noticed me. On the day of the concert they were short a group to perform... so they cobbled something together with musicians from several of the existing groups and called themselves "Lost Hopes". I was called in at the last minute to narrate a story of sorts backed by the band... their cue to break off into an extended jazz jam was me finally ending the story with the words "lost hopes".

Mind you, the concert had already begun when I got a call at home that this was happening. I jumped into a taxi... got to the venue with 5 minutes to spare before having to be on stage... all the while Mike and David were talking me through the idea. Got on stage... music backing started, I did my thing and I think this Zappaesque experiment was pulled off. It was after this over roti chanai that Mike asked me if I was interested in putting words to a tune he was writing. Shortly after that I brought the idea of Frogway to him.

On... our original working methods
We would usually work at Mike's place of business. He was giving organ lessons and we would steal into one of the practice rooms to hash out the songs. Sometimes he had the tunes that I would lyric to and at other times it worked the other way around. I recall one afternoon within a 2 hour period we managed to crank out 3 complete songs. We went to a local coffeeshop right after to celebrate buzzing with excitement over what had just occurred. I remember Mike exclaiming "Sometimes I wish I had 3 or 4 hands so I can play all the musical parts!" To which I replied, "I'd just settle for the other one I have to be functional." Back then... and again recently our collaboration always involved a healthy dose of good natured jibing of each other and laughter.

On... the original production in Malaysia
Mike was leaving to attend the prestigious Berklee School Of Music in Boston. I was left back in Malaysia to attempt putting a production of the show together. The plan was when he came back for Summer holidays we would mount the show. In March of 1980 I received news that I was accepted to college in California. This ramped up my own efforts to get the play produced before the end of August.

There was a certain naive "let's put on a show" Andy Hardy quality to the beginnings of all of this. I recruited potential cast & crew members from college mates, boy scout friends and friends of friends. My cousin Anna Kronenberg had her own dance studio. She kindly allowed us the use of it for rehearsals - rent free... all we had to pay was the utility bills... and also agreed to choreograph the show.

Then things got a little complicated. We needed an already established organization to produce the show because of all the red-tape, permits, etc that was going to be involved. (I remember having to send the script to 7 government departments for approval.) This proved to be a challenge as none of the established local theatre folk were really willing to go in with a bunch of upstarts. We finally approached NAMEO who agreed to umbrella us... Mike and I borrowed money from our parents and we began nailing the production together.

Well, things were moving along pretty well... then 2 weeks before opening I was in a car crash and split my nose open. One of the lead dancers and promotions manager was also in the car. It could have been a set back but the show went on to open with the 3 of us injured jumping back onto the stage. Mike and Anna kept things going in rehearsals and probably fixed some of the more glaring major mistakes I had made as a first time director.

The show opened at the University Kebangsaan Auditorium, July 30, 1980 (I think). It played for 5 performances to a total audience of about 1500. (I think again) For the most part everyone had a good time and we fulfilled at least the requirement of entertaining them. The entire cast and crew was made up mostly of unknowns and first timers... all of whom put effort, energy and joy on that stage... and it showed. The reviews in the press were mixed to say the least. Each of the 3 newspapers had reviews that ranged from excellent... to fair... to scathing. After recovering production costs the profits were donated to a couple of charities.

On... the production in America
In Fall 1980 both Mike and I were studying on different coasts in America. In 1981, I had switched majors from journalism to theatre at which time I had shown the script to one of my Professors. A staged reading of that under the Playwrights Theatre program was mounted. After that, my professor, Edward EmanuEl mentored me on the rewrites. Structurally the script became a lot more sound and 4 more songs were added. Mike and I wrote those over the phone and used the US Postal Service quite a bit back then. The current revision was conducted via Skype.

The play was picked up for production by the University's Experimental Theatre Company in the Spring of 1983. It was directed by french student Eric Duret with musical direction by Robert Paul and choreography by Chris Mathias. The show played to 4 sold out performances in the Arena Theater California State University, Fresno.

Impressions of the show
Both the original in Malaysia and American productions had several common characteristics.
  • An infectious enthusiasm and charm.
  • A raging "can-do" attitude.
  • A good natured horny cast. LOL!
Both productions had their unique challenges. Though I can't help but feel that there is a certain vibe with this show that ultimately inspires those involved to go above and beyond. I don't think anyone has walked away from the show not being pleasantly surprised at how far their capability reached.

It's not Shakespeare... at best it is a bauble... but one with an infectious heart and soul that winks and dares the different... and the brilliant music sings that. I did however rediscover during the latest retooling, that the show does indeed have a special hard to be explained magic about it. I think both Mike and I have been happy to come across that on our paths again after 27 years.

To the cast and the crew of this upcoming "re-premier"... my sincere hope is that you too will find that magic... and hold on to it. It is that which all these years I have held on to in all the creative projects I have undertaken to date... and it continues to serve me well. In essence, Frogway 2007 really is a brand new show... but Mike and I took special care to preserve the original magic and charm in it.


To everyone who has been involved in this hopping joyous insanity over the years... a big THANK YOU. And Mike... once again thank you for throwing your trust to this quirky serani hanger-on so many years ago.

EDIT: For other Picture Daze posts form my old blog CLICK HERE!