Great news: everything’s been finalized with Short + Sweet Malaysia this year. We’ve got all the directors and scripts and categories, but if you’ve been following the festival for some years then you’d probably notice something glaring in this year’s selection.
Where on earth is Nick Choo?
The award-winning composer has been participating since the festival began in 2010 (with the exception of 2012, when he was in Singapore) and he’s won a fair bit. In fact, he’s won every single year he was involved with the festival.
So where have you gone, Nick Choo?
“I thought this was a good year to take a break from it,” he casually states upon being quizzed by The Daily Seni.
“I’ve been working on project after project almost non-stop this year and I figured I’d best not exhaust myself with one additional project!” he admits.
Fair enough, Nick. Amidst preparations for his No Black Tie showcase due in two weeks, the cheery musician was kind enough to let us interrogate him on his involvement with Short + Sweet Malaysia and his craft.
Capping off his success at Short + Sweet back in 2014 was his Mercedes-Benz Award for Creative Excellence. The award, Nick says, is another reason that contributed to his decision to take a step back from the festival.
“Having won the big prize, I felt it would be a good idea to step back from the platform and – without intending to sound pompous about it – let others have time to shine,” he humbly confesses.
Nick Choo’s lock on some of these prizes is rather impressive. In the table below, we attempted to calculate the probability of Nick Choo winning an award in a particular category, or P(x), based on his track record in the competition.
As you can tell from the image above, the chances of Nick Choo bagging any award in the musical category (in the years he chooses to participate) is between 50 – 75%.
By the way, we decided to ignore the Glitz ‘N’ Glamour category because a) it’s not a real award, is it guys? b) we don’t know why it exists only in the Malaysian edition because this makes us seem really lame c) it sounds like a shortcut to a win at the festival.
Sorry Joe and Faridah, we love you guys but it’d be great if we can make it all about quality on the stage.
Speaking of the theatre duo (which will both be back on the stage for Sisa-Sisa at the end of the month), Nick Choo is eternally grateful to them for the opportunity and the blessings.
“They graciously credited me with having raised the bar in Short + Sweet Musical, which they said accordingly forced others to raise the level of their work.”
This writer remembers his first few months in theatre, hearing about Nick Choo winning another award and listening to amateurs gripe about how unfair Short + Sweet and Nick Choo have become.
Like, how unfair is it that Nick Choo keeps on winning despite the fact his work stands out miles ahead of the rest, because shouldn’t everyone deserve an award at some point despite the quality of their work?
But what is it that makes his music resonate so well with theatre-goers?
“You should be asking that question to those who enjoy my music!” Nick laughs.
“I think it’s because my songs tend to be melodious and memorable, yet complex and evocative. Somebody just said to me recently that I’m very good at conveying emotion through my work, and I think that’s what musical theatre audiences want whenever they see a show: to be moved into feeling something – whether it’s joy, or shock, or anger, or sadness.”
Nick’s music is indeed complex; he tends to move away from straightforward rhythms and time signatures (don’t expect a smooth ride on the 4/4 train with this one) and people he’s worked with have even labelled his music as some of the most difficult they’ve had to tackle in musical theatre.
His prowess doesn’t just manifest through his achievement in Short + Sweet – this man also has a couple of BOH Cammies lined up on his mantel, and we haven’t even gone to his international achievements yet, which you can check out on his website.
At the moment however, he’s just a bit busier than usual. Among projects he’s currently occupied with are composing for SIBKL‘s Esya: The Musical due in December, as well as getting Zak Zebra’s African Safari to South Korea in September. The latter, produced by The Actors Studio Academy, has been invited to be part of the week-long festivities celebrating the launch of the Asian Cultural Complex in Gwangju, South Korea.
Nick is really excited about Zak Zebra as it was the first children show in which he collaborated with playwright, director and Associate Professor at Murdoch University, Jenny de Reuck, with whom he’s been working with her on children’s theatre since 2003.
But right now, he’s busy getting things together for Dreaming Outside The Box: An Evening of Theatre Music by Nick Choo, his debut No Black Tie gig happening next month. Also involved in the project are local musical theatre stars Stephanie van Driesen, Cheryl Tan and Peter Ong.
“It will be a fun couple of evenings featuring songs from my various shows, including a couple of the ten-minute musicals I’ve put on during Short+Sweet.”
To be included in his repertoire are cuts from pieces such as Dreaming Outside The Box (which won eight of 14 Short + Sweet awards in the musical category in 2013), as well as last year’s quirky Cartography of a Relationship, which explored the romantic journey of a young couple from the point of view of a GPS device.
But perhaps, the most important question is: will Nick Choo ever be back for Short + Sweet Malaysia?
“I’d be more inclined to try my hand at one of the other categories next time ,” he reveals.
“And who knows? I just might end up being a judge for Short+Sweet Musical!”
‘Dreaming Outside The Box: An Evening of Theatre Music by Nick Choo‘ will be held at 8:30pm from August 12 – 13 at No Black Tie, No. 17, Jalan Mesui, Off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur. For reservations, call up +603 2142 3737 or hit up email@example.com