27 March 2006

Students of the Sunway University College (Sunway) School of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Management (SHTLM) jointly collaborated with students from A Cut Above Academy, to present a musical cum hair show extravaganza - “Greasy” at Sunway University College on 11 March. This was the first time the two institutions paired up and successfully pulled off a show that was an exuberant interpretation of the well-loved musical “Grease” featuring popular songs with a 50’s mood.

The Musical & Hair Show was in conjunction with A Cut Above Academy’s graduation of its 2005 class of students. A Cut Above Academy and their associates teamed up with first year students from the Diploma in Conventions & Events Management of SHLTM, Sunway University College, who got their golden chance to orchestrate and participate in a real large-scale event which met their course requirements. The Conventions and Events Management students rose to the occasion with their creativity and ingenuity from concept to the realization of the event in terms of logo, invitations and programme designs to securing sponsorship and organising auditions for talents.

Eleven (11) professional models wore zany hairdos created by the 11 graduands of the A Cut Above Academy. About 60 talents which included 46 students from the SHTLM and Sunway gave a splendid performance of song and dance to numbers such as “Greased Lightning” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You” which depicted the carefree and fun-loving spirit of college students in that evergreen musical that appeared in 1978.

Students from the Hotel Industry Apprenticeship Scheme (HIAS) programme and students majoring in hospitality taking the Restaurant Business Operations module from SHTLM, designed the cocktail reception menu, created and prepared the delectable finger food for the event. This provided the opportunity for students to learn how to integrate with others and work as a team for the eventual success of an event.

Sunway University College is the first institution of higher learning in Malaysia to offer a full-time Diploma in Conventions & Events Management programme. This programme started last year, has created interest among students and prospective employers. The enrolment numbers have been encouraging which reflects a demand for such a course.

The SHTLM will be embarking on its own bachelor (with honours) degrees in International Hospitality Management, International Tourism Management, Retail Marketing Management and Conventions and Events Management, which will be offered later this year.

In his speech during the ceremony, Professor Jarlath Ronayne, Director of Sunway University College, said “The collaborations among professionals in various areas of expertise are essentially what working life will be about in the real world. I need hardly stress that the experience of working as a team, to challenge and inspire each other to the highest limits of creativeness and to pull together an entertaining show is to say the least, invaluable”

Sponsors included Schwarzkopf Professional Malaysia, The Body Shop, Focus Point Vision Care Group Sdn Bhd, A.W. Faber-Castell (M) Sdn Bhd, Nestle Products Sdn Bhd, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel, Hyper Elevation Media Sdn Bhd, and the following F & B establishments:-

Manhattan Fish Market Restaurant Sdn Bhd, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Restaurant Marche, The Chicken Rice Shop, Swensen’s (M) Sdn Bhd, San Francisco Coffee Sdn Bhd, CafĂ© Flam and Burger King.

The show was choreographed by Raymond of the Zon Performing Group.

23 March 2006

Sunway Entertained and Sparked Interest in Shakespeare

On February 23, 24 and 25, Sunway University College Diploma in Performance+Media students put their own stamp on a compendium of selected Shakespearean plays in SyUC’s very own “Cupid Kills”. Some of the most memorable and passionate scenes from 9 plays of comedy and tragedy came alive in a very modern interpretation of the classic themes of love and death as plied by Shakespeare.

The production was directed by Rey Buono, Head of the Department of Performance+Media and was part of the students’ theatre practicum, which is a requirement of the course. The entire student population of the Department had acting roles while the more advanced students were solely responsible for the production: stage management, lights, sound, costumes, set, publicity and ticket sales.

Rey Buono shared “Shakespeare was, after all, a man of the commercial theatre, interested above all in entertaining audiences. This production aims to bring his characters into the present, without sacrificing the power and scope of his language”. “If Shakespeare was alive today, he would probably be writing for the screen, not the stage. In directing this production, I have tried to frame the scenes in the context of various movie genres – Bollywood, gothic horror, romantic comedy. The student actors are working in different styles,” added Rey.

The interesting staging is evident in the set which worked as the different levels of stacked blocks effectively separated the various scenes. The close proximity of the audience to the stage and the different levels of the stage were effective in adding variety and intimacy to the “action”. The simplicity of the props and the contemporary costumes highlighted the talent and exuberance of the actors during their performances.

“Cupid Kills” seems to have all the ingredients to entertain. Truthfulness prevailed during some heart to heart dialogues while “playing hard to get” was acted out with measured timing that when couples got together, there were feelings of relief among the audience. Senseless acts of jealousy and rage elicited annoyance while the audience held their breath in anticipation of being told of some news. This provided the roller coaster of emotions to satisfy any die-hard Shakespeare fan.

Polished showmanship was evident in many scenes. Among the young actors with much potential who made an impact with the audience was Amelia Chen who played Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing”. Amelia conveyed her anger and attraction for Benedick with great panache. Sharifah Sofia who has played in commercial television and is well-known locally for her part in the TV series “Spanar Jaya”, took the role of alluring Juliet in “Romeo & Juliet”. Sharifah was a treat to watch as was Nurul Ain Mohd Jamlus as Helena in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Elza Irdalynna, who is an Astro Shaw scholar, played a complex cross-gender role of Viola/‘Cesario’ in “Tweflth Night”, successfully managed to enact a true comedy of confusion. Her co-actor, Tengku Amalia Zahirah played the intoxicated Olivia with great effect and style.

There were some 14 scenes in all and students had six and a half weeks of grueling preparation that seems to have paid off. This was no ordinary Shakespearean play but an upbeat fresh take with zany costumes and setting. “The Taming of the Shrew” had a Bollywood inspiration, “Hamlet” was dark tragedy and “Othello” was given the gothic horror treatment. The surprise twist at the end gave new meaning to the whole play. There were great movement and dancing to snazzy Cupid-themed songs which gave a rousing finale to the whole production.

Shakespearean plays seem to have a strong pull factor as a number of secondary schools sent their English Literature students to watch and enjoy “Cupid Kills”. Groups of 10 or more students from schools were accorded free entry.

“We hope that the ‘Cupid Kills’ experience will dispel any fear in students for the literary giant Shakespeare’s works and to teach teamwork and responsibility,” explained Rey Buono.

The Diploma in Performance+Media is a 2.5-year programme where talented young men and women are given technical training and tutelage in the art of acting, directing and play/screen writing. Upon completion of the diploma, graduates may enter into the fields of television, film, media and theatre or continue without too much difficulty in pursuit of a degree. The programme is in its second year with three successful intakes and the next intake will be in August this year.