Flight of fantasy

Pictures by: 
Ariffin Jamar
Report by: 
Benson Ang

In a practice room, seven acrobats perform somersaults and do cartwheels and splits in midair. Portraying tribesmen in a mystical forest, they make clawing gestures with their hands, as jungle-themed music thumps away in the background. Just minutes ago, other acrobats flew in the air – doing backflips and twirls while suspended by a bungee cord.

A few rooms away, three stuntmen rappel head-first down from the ceiling of the 1,600-seater Resorts World Sentosa Theatre. They are rehearsing their grand entrance for the new musical, LightSeeker, opening next month. Some have graced the stages of the West End, London’s famous theatre district. Others were national gymnasts or performers in Cirque du Soleil. They are now pulling out all the stops, practising aerial stunts and martial arts.

Lead actress and veteran performer Vivienne Carlyle, who plays an evil sorceress, says: “I’ll be singing in mid-air because my character can levitate.” This will be the first time she “flies” on stage. She says: “I was nervous on my first day of fly training. My suspended body kept tilting forward, although I’m supposed to stand straight.”

Stuart Boother, 30, who plays a general, says: “I have a fight scene in between singing two songs. I’ll be quite out of breath, but it will be worth it.” He is well-versed in stage combat and gongfu, having spent six months in 2010 training with Shaolin gongfu masters in the Kunyu mountains of China. Even actors who play smaller roles like imps have to sing, dance and do acrobatics.

Joshua Donovan, 22, who plays an imp, says: “I’ll be tumbling, climbing ropes and jumping on a trampoline. It’s a ‘power ranger’ workout. “Other times, I’ll be squatting – it’s a thigh killer.”

No effort has been spared in putting together this 90-minute show. The set alone took 15,000 man hours to build. It includes a platform in the centre of the stage that can rotate and tilt, as well as an LED wall which features 281 trillion colour variations and weighs 10 tonnes.

The 39 cast members come from 10 countries. They were whittled down from over 2,000 hopefuls seen in London, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, New York, Singapore and Sydney.

Dick Lee, 57, who composed the songs for the show, says: “Watching the rehearsals, it struck me just how talented and passionate the cast members are about their craft.”

The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on Sunday on 20 October 2013.