The mood at the premiere of The Last Night of Taipan Chin (金大班的最後一夜) was one of nostalgia for a bygone era. This was fortunate, as nostalgia is a forgiving emotion, and the show, which had been much hyped due to the starring role played by Liu Xiaoqing (劉曉慶), only managed to sustain itself on the good will of the audience.
The premiere was a star-studded affair, with the elderly Morris Chang (張忠謀), chairman of TSMC, and his wife, Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) accompanying his father Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), socialite Amy Ho (何麗玲) and model Lin Chi-ling (林志玲) courting the cameras that were lined outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. It was a big night out for the movers and shakers, who dutifully applauded the plodding performance in which only Liu ever shone, and then only sporadically. The presentation was very dated, and the evocation of a hot and steaming sex scene through the medium of contemporary dance was simply laughable. There was a badly rehearsed can-can line and some exceeding pedestrian ballroom dancing, but worst of all was the fact that the music was never really allowed to come into its own. It was simply, like Liu herself, a gimmick on which to sell the show.
The greatest culprit in the whole sad presentation was the sound system and the appalling acoustics of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall auditorium. Actors spoke with disembodied voices, hiss was a constant irritant in the background, and the volume control was erratic. The lighting technician could also have done with a bit more practice and scene changes could have been a little more expeditious. The rotating stage set up made so much noise when turning that one feared it might come to a shuddering halt at any moment.
For such a big ticket performance, these technical problems were inexcusable and the management of the auditorium should be utterly ashamed of itself. But ultimately, the greatest failing of The Last Night of Taipan Chin was that it pinned everything on its star, and while she certainly cut an attractive figure among the bumbling cast, her presence was never strong enough to hold up the precarious edifice of this musical drama.
The performance can still be seen at 7:30pm tonight through to Wednesday at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館) at 505, Renai Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市仁愛路四段505號). Tickets are available through NTCH ticketing.
The Gemini Trio thrilled audiences last night with classical music that surveyed the early and late romantic period, South American Tango and an encore that included Taiwanese compositions. Consisting of Benjamin C. Meyers on cello, Taiwanese Wang Hsiu-hui (王琇慧) on piano and Wang Sheng-tsung (王聖琮) on violin, the trio left the audience on its feet clapping for more. Billed as the Gemini Piano Trio - Homecoming Concert 2008 (美國雙子星鋼琴三重奏2008回到故鄉), their reading of Beethoven's Piano Trio in D Major showed maturity and discipline beyond their years while the Astor Piazolla/Jose Bragato Three Tangos for Piano Trio epitomized the idiom of chamber music. Dvorak's Piano Trio in E Minor, revealed how each musician is a virtuoso in their own right with Wang Hsiu-hui jumping across the keyboard and complimenting the succinct bowing of Meyers and Wang Sheng-tsung. Of particular note were Meyer and Wang Sheng-tsung's presence on the stage (Wang Hsiu-hui was, unfortunately, obscured by the string players).