Merrily we roll along on this musical journey

26 May 2022


Love. Music. Hope. Resilience. These are the universal themes at the heart of My Musical Journey, a special musical concert devised by 27 HKBU students and alumni from different disciplines and study programmes. In a production that has overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, they will be showcasing not only many all-time classic songs and melodies from well-known musicals, but also their diversified talents in acting, singing, dancing and music.

Co-presented by the Cultural Literacy Programme and the Academy of Film, the performance will take place on 17 and 18 June in the Academic Community Hall.

The show has not come easy, as the fifth wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong unexpectedly created obstacles during the planning and rehearsal phase of the production. Director Calvin Wong, an HKBU alumnus, says, “We plan to perform the Broadway musical Once on This Island, which is a story about hope, love and faith – themes that are fitting for university students preparing for life and work.”

But the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic have generated uncertainty around the production schedule, and rehearsals were moved online before going on hiatus for more than a month. For Calvin, the interruption has presented both challenges and opportunities. “When the production started up again, we decided to turn the show into a musical concert,” he says. “This allows us to have more flexibility in rehearsals and the change has helped us manage the production. Students can also experience different songs from some of the most famous musicals through the decades.”

While the reimagined production comprises duets and ensemble pieces from famous musicals such as Hairspray, Wicked, The Lion King, Merrily We Roll Along and Once on This Island, it also adds a fresh element: the selection of songs is defined by different themes that students have been exploring during their university studies. “We picked the songs that touch on the ideas of growth, friendships, romance and work, and how we have to face the challenges in life with hope. These messages are relatable to our cast members who are on their own university journeys,” says Calvin, who works as a professional theatre director.

For the performers, the show provides them with an excellent opportunity to showcase their talents and love of musical theatre. Jeremy Wong, a Year Two Acting for Global Screen student and one of the 22 cast members, is drawn to the prospect of applying his acting training to create an emotional performance. “Musical theatre is about the moment when you can no longer speak to express yourself so you have to sing. Similar to playing a character, I have to interpret the song so I can express its emotion and tell its story to the audience,” he says, adding that it is his dream to become an actor and he is thrilled to work with other students who are also chasing their dreams.

For cast member and final-year international student Jessa Alfajardo, taking part in the musical concert has enriched her university experience. “Even though I’m a management student, music has always been my passion. I really appreciate the University’s initiative and everyone’s efforts to stage the work during the pandemic,” she says. “Despite the interruptions to the production, all of us held on to the hope that we can still perform. I hope the audience can see how passionate the whole cast and crew are about music and the performing arts.”

Their passion for music has not only driven the student performers to persevere through difficult conditions, but it has also reunited alumni on stage. For the past few months, Issac Sit, a History graduate, has been going to a recording studio after work to rehearse with the four other musicians involved in the show. “It’s really fun to play with the other musicians in a musical production, which is very different from my usual band practice,” says Issac, who plays the bass guitar. “It has not been easy to find the time to rehearse, but all of us want to contribute to the cultural scene in Hong Kong, and this desire has motivated us to carry on.”

While My Musical Journey recognises musicals as an art form, it also celebrates the friendship among HKBU students and alumni who share the same passion for theatre, music and dance. Calvin hopes that the audience will enjoy a show that is uplifting and joyful. “Musicals have both artistic and entertainment value, and they can also evoke emotions in people,” he says. “I hope the show can engage the audience by bringing back the memories of their personal university journeys, or inspiring them to think about their future selves.”

Free tickets to My Musical Journey are available here.