16TH NOVEMBER 2019
A moving tale of chasing one’s dreams, love, and family, ‘An Accident Of Love’ is nothing new when it comes to musicals.
But the strong cast, helmed by Chinese pop singer Della Ding Dang, veteran Taiwanese actor Berson Wang, and singer-songwriter Nylon Chen, managed to turn the Mandopop musical into a heartwarming tear-jerker that touched the hearts of the audience.
The first two floors of The Star Theatre was packed out with fans on 16 November 2019, excited to catch the musical which was making a stop in Singapore for only one night during its world tour. ‘An Accident Of Love Musical’ has been touring the world since July 2018, with runs in major cities like Toronto, Taipei, Vancouver, Shanghai, and Beijing.
Adapted from the Taiwanese film ‘Can You Hear Me Sing’ (1983), the movie has become a classic with well-known hits like “The Same Moonlight”, and “Come With Me, Please”. Ding Dang, who plays Ah Mei, the female lead who’s an aspiring pop singer, also performed her best hits like “I Love Him”, “I’m A Small Bird” and other songs fresh from her latest album, which were worked into the storyline.
The musical largely follows the movie, with Ah Mei starring as the heroine of our story. In a seemingly rags-to-riches story, Ah Mei gets discovered by a record label manager whilst singing in her neighborhood bar. Encouraged by her adopted dad, Uncle Ya, Ah Mei moves to the city to debut as a pop star. It takes a scheming rival and a merciless manager to reveal the cutthroat nature of the music industry as Ah Mei rebrands herself for the public eye whilst trying to stay true to her roots.
The simple backdrops combined with the use of the huge screen stretching across the back of the stage managed to bring both the harsh realities of the shanty ghettos and the glitzy world of stardom to life as Ah Mei blossoms from an orphan girl into a rising pop star.
With screens on the side of the stage that displayed the lyrics of the songs, the audience could be heard singing along to the songs throughout the entire theatre. Cue little gasps of recognition whenever the cast burst into a musical number – it almost felt like a karaoke session.
By the time the familiar notes of “Any Empty Wine Bottles For Sale” rang out across the theatre, you could feel the emotional tension in the air as Della’s emotive voice and impressive range managed to reach even the highest rafters. Della shared in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times that playing ambitious Ah Mei reminded her of the experiences she faced early in her career – the enthusiasm, obstacles and disappointments. “Portraying the character did require me to mentally dig into painful memories and give a part of myself to the performance,” she said.
Della Ding’s vocal prowess and versatility was evident as she powered her way through all the classic hits without even missing a beat throughout the 180 minutes long musical. That’s pretty impressive considering that the singer has to juggle acting, dancing, and singing all at the same time – and yet we never heard her out of breath or glimpsed her out of step.
It takes more than just one actress to carry a show and we have to thank the other lead actors and supporting cast to deliver a solid performance.
Taking up the most challenging role of Uncle Ya (Ah Mei’s dad) is Berson Wang (Wang Bo Sen), a veteran Taiwanese actor in the musical scene. Playing Uncle Ya who’s supposed to be 65 isn’t easy for Berson, who’s only turning 55 next year and has big boots to fill in. Uncle Ya from the movie was played by the late Sun Yueh, who took home to the 1983 Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actor for this very role. Berson shared putting on the makeup to look like an older person took nearly two hours, and that he had to learn the mannerisms of an older person. In fact, we might have even mistaken Berson to be in his 60s as well!
Nylon Chen also takes up the role of Ah Mei’s love interest whilst trying to keep her grounded. Despite the romantic and rival subplots, the most powerful message of filial piety and kinship emerges triumphant. Unconditional love is the purest form of love, as Ah Mei and the audience come to the same realisation as the curtain fell.
As the cast took a bow together, they invited the audience to take as many photos as they wanted to and join them in one last song together. That was all it took for everyone to eagerly take to their feet and belt out the lyrics to the musical’s biggest hit, “Any Empty Wine Bottles For Sale”. Even after the musical ensemble took their final bow and ran off stage, the applause rang on as no one seemed to want the night to end.
Everyone slowly streamed out after the show on a high note, laughing as the emcee gave a word of caution for the audience not to take the wrong train on their way home, a pun that gives a nod to the movie’s Chinese name.
Photo Credits: LiveNation