BWW Previews: TEMAN's HAIRSPRAY Gets Broadway's Brandon Bieber as Director
At a second press conference, TEMAN (Teater Musikal Nusantara) announced that Broadway's Brandon Bieber (ANYTHING GOES, MARY POPPINS) will direct their upcoming production of HAIRSPRAY. The production team, featured cast members, and sponsors also shared their experience on the show so far.
On November 26th, TEMAN held a press conference at Ciputra Artpreneur, Jakarta, following their previous one back in October. The press conference promotes their upcoming production HAIRSPRAY, which will run on December 21 and 22 also at Ciputra Artpreneur, Lotte Shopping Avenue.
Attending as speakers from the production were Brandon Bieber (Director), Chriskevin Adefrid (Producer), Ivan Tangkulung (Music Director), Venytha Yoshiantini (Tracy Turnblad, TEMAN's Artistic Director), Morgan Oey (Link Larkin), Gusty Pratama (Corny Collins), Lea Simanjuntak (Velma von Tussel), and Andrea Miranda (Amber von Tussel). Also attending were representatives from Hairspray's sponsors: Henny Tanady (Ciputra Artpreneur), Septi Herlina (BCA), and Listyanisa (Martha Tilaar).
The biggest talking point was, of course, Bieber's involvement. Collaborating with a director with experience in multiple Broadway productions (and beyond) is a major move by TEMAN to realize their vision of bringing Broadway-level quality entertainment to Indonesia.
Regarding working with local talents, Bieber admitted that he was impressed by the level of talent and dedication. After working with the cast for a couple weeks, he had already demonstrated expertise and attention to detail, putting utmost care to each line and movement, as confessed by the attending cast members.
TEMAN believes that the experience of working in a professional Broadway-standard environment, though challenging, will be a great learning opportunity for the cast as well.
On the music side, Ivan Tangkulung returns as music director after his previous bout with TEMAN's INTO THE WOODS. He has assembled the best musicians he handpicked to perform Marc Shaiman's catchy, pop-influenced score; meanwhile, the arrangement will follow the version provided by the Musical Theatre International license.
HAIRSPRAY's corporate backers also talked about their support. In particular, Henny Tanady told the press that Ciputra's decision to support HAIRSPRAY was born out of a shared vision between TEMAN and the founder of the Ciputra Group, the recently-departed Ciputra himself. He founded the Ciputra Artpreneur to help the development of budding Indonesian artists.
Septi Herlina, from BCA, said BCA and Ciputra had a long-standing relationship in bringing support to musical theater productions. Together, they had brought international touring productions such as ANNIE and THE SOUND OF MUSIC to Jakarta. The private bank is still offering discount for TEMAN's HAIRSPRAY for BCA credit card holders.
As for Martha Tilaar, the make up giant will feature their stage make-up line to bring the 60's bright, fun colors to life. They are working closely with TEMAN's costume and make up team to design the right look for each character, said Listyanisa.
Gusty Pratama, a singer known for both his single career and the vocal group 5 Romeo, joins the cast as TV show host Corny Collins. He's excited to be in the musical as the slick showman, having previously been involved with Disney Indonesia projects.
Lea Simanjuntak and Andrea Miranda shared their chemistry-building process. Playing a mother-daughter couple, the actresses confessed to working in minute similarities into the characters' movement and voice. They also share a long history together, Lea having even worked with Andrea's father. This preexisting relationship makes it easy to develop their roles together, alongside inputs from the director and mentors.
Meanwhile, Venytha's and Morgan's characters, Tracy and Link, also have a similarly intertwined story arc. They are still exploring the nuances of the relationship, with Morgan looking to the more experienced Venytha for guidance. She admits that they clicked immediately, helping them in forming a much needed bond between characters.
Producer Chriskevin restated the show's message: pursuing one's dream and unity. Tracy strives to be in her favorite TV show despite the pushback she received due to her size; along the way, she worked with the black populace of Baltimore to end the rampant segregation. Chris and TEMAN hope that the musical's messages will inspire Jakarta's youths to work together and fulfill their ambitions.
In addition to the main cast members on duty as speakers, the ensemble also joined them on stage to perform two numbers from the song, namely the opening number "Good Morning Baltimore" and the bubbly and playful "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now". We got to hear Venytha's take on Tracy's iconic nasality, as well as a brief sneak peek of Peter Ong's turn as Edna Turnblad, in addition to the already excellent performances.
The last event of the press conference was the revealing of the character posters, showcasing 8 of the show's characters in promotional costume (final costumes for the show might differ). With the show's opening coming this weekend, interested readers should check out TEMAN's Instagram (@teman.musicals) for more information, including ticket purchase. Are you ready for the bombastic beats and big hairs?