BWW Review: JAKSICAL Reached for New Heights at JOURNEY THROUGH TIME 3: A MUSICAL EXPEDITION Concert
For their third annual concert, JAKSICAL went for a more intimate show with a handful of singers alongside a team of musicians, wrapped in a charming theme of globetrotting. The resulting exploration of beloved show tunes in JOURNEY THROUGH TIME 3: A MUSICAL EXPEDITION (JTT3) was a worthy addition to the community's growing accomplishments.
JTT3 ran for two shows on Saturday, October 5th, 2019 at the ICE PALACE theater, Jakarta. Always impressively design-savvy, JTT3's promotional posts were adorned with letters, maps, and travel stamps, indicating their theme of international travel. Indeed, the song list was chosen to represent different countries in which their musical's story took place, ranging from Indonesia to the USA, France to Israel.
Performing those songs were eight singers (Amelia Anjani, Andre Suthedja, Brenda Laurentia, Cliff Tedyanto, Devina Salmania, Jason Lie, Orlando Gultom, and Resa Kawatu) as well as guest performer the vocal group Vokalogie Kids. As all eight have been chosen through an internal audition of prior JTT performers, it should come as no surprise that each performer was competent -- both in vocal and enunciation.
The concert also stars a 5-piece band and a chamber orchestra, led by music director Hizkia Yosurandri. JTT3 adeptly avoided the problem plaguing many Indonesian productions: bad sound quality. Both the singers and musicians can be heard crisply throughout the theater, without one overpowering the other.
After the overture, the show's flight path departed from Indonesia with 'Tiga Dara'. Performed by Amelia, Devina, and Brenda, this number was both an appropriate opening number, starting out from the JAKSICAL's homeland. and a rare homage to Indonesian musicals.
JTT3 continued with stops at The USA ('Somewhere', by Andre), Israel ('I Don't Know How to Love Him', by Devina), Argentina ('Buenos Aires', sang and danced energetically by Brenda), Russia ('Anthem', by Cliff), and Vietnam ('I'd Give My Love for You', by Resa). The various ballads and duets were beautifully performed.
The act 1 finale (as the show still uses theater naming conventions) makes a stop in the savannas of Kenya with a medley from the Lion King. It was the first song to have had more than three people singing and the resulting harmony was notably impressive; although the show was meant to highlight each performer, more group songs would have been appreciated as they kept the show fresh.
Act 2's first destination was France ('Out There', by Orlando), followed by Egypt ('Written in the Stars', by Andre and Resa), The UK ('Matilda Medley' by the charmingly precocious Vocalogie Kids), The USA ('First Date/Last Night', by Amelia and Orlando), French Antilles ('Waiting for Life', by Brenda), Israel ('Omar Sharif', by Amelia), Russia ('In A Crowd of Thousands', by Brenda and Cliff). The accented renditions on Waiting for Life and Omar Sharif gave the songs a touch of the exotic, building the atmosphere of each locale.
It would be remiss to hold a flight-themed musical concert without a song or two from Come From Away. JTT3 didn't disappoint, topping off the show with the inspirational Me and the Sky, sang passionately by Resa to a big applause. And for the encore, the whole cast sang 38 Planes (Reprise)/Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere, a song that closed the whole show and left the audience with a sense of both accomplishment and melancholy -- just like how a particularly good vacation would.
In a cast of good singers, it was a challenge to stand out. But two performers in particular put forth remarkably memorable performances. Jason Lie's powerful, big vocals were a pleasant surprise, especially coming from a man of smaller stature. He sang the opening chant to Circle of Life, a part that famously required a strong, booming delivery -- and Jason accomplished that beautifully, commanding the attention of the whole audience.
But for the title of the best singer of the night, there was little doubt that Resa Kawatu deserved it. Her talent and experience shone in the way she nailed all her songs and made it look effortless. Her voice is full and round, the type one'd find in Broadway lead roles nowadays; in addition, her performances were always rife with emotion, giving them that extra punch.
As for the show's presentation, though JTT3 had a very strong and consistent social media campaign, the concert itself sometimes felt disconnected to its theme. There was little to no indication before or during each song to note the source musical's place of origin.
Even a simple graphical representation (utilizing the backdrop-sized monitor) of the country or a prerecorded pilot announcement to segue in-between songs would have helped with keeping the thematic trappings. Going further, the songs chosen rarely had the signature sounds of the region, with a few exceptions such as Waiting for Life and Buenos Aires; though this was more understandable as there's a lot going into a song's consideration.
Although they could've gone the extra mile, JTT3 is still a highly satisfying show for musical aficionados and newcomers alike; the quality of JAKSICAL's performers and musicians is close to a professional production. And by tying the show together with a theme, JAKSICAL keeps things fresh and more well-rounded. With this new direction, it is exciting to see where the community will soar next.
(Photos by Jaksical.)