The 60 Second Plug: Integrated Expressions’ “Little Mission Impossible”

Little Mission Impossible: should we Expect the Impossible? Tell us more about the musical.

Little Mission Impossible makes the impossible possible on stage. It’s a children’s musical adventure that sees the journey of Ai Ya-Ya, a little pixie, in a quest to maintain the colours of the world. She runs into numerous obstacles and characters — some with the intent to distract her. Will she finish her mission?

The world is losing its colour and fading into black and white. Any insights as to why playwright Dennis Lai came up with this premise for the musical?

Ha ha! I’ve never asked him — though I’ve always suspected it is an analogy to his own loss of innocence.

Tell us a bit about the production’s music, set, and costumes.

A lot of late nights went into making it all happen. A lot of healthy arguments, too! Do watch out for the details, it has everyone’s combined touches. Music: catchy, and it comes with very dance-able steps. Set: magic, with many changes (small teaser: imagine a world where every living thing walks about with a picture frame around its face). Costumes: hand-sewn and meticulously put together.

Integrated Expressions is collaborating with Little Eyes Play House on this production. What has working together been like? Will we hear of future collaborations, or is this the end?

The custody proceedings over Ai Ya-Ya would be too painful if this is to be the end — so no, you’ll never stop hearing from us. The collaboration between IE and LEPH is not unlike that of a married couple, but our synergy is extremely productive — and, since the concerted mission is to build a future for children’s theatre, there is a lot of love.

Tell us a bit about the cast.

Everyone is quirky, everyone can sing, and everyone is hyperactive. Everyone also harbours a secret wish to wear Ai Ya-Ya’s dress. For me, the interesting bit about our cast and production team is that almost everyone has very interesting day jobs, ranging from ballet teachers to architects.

What was a typical day on set like?

Body warm-up. Voice warm-up. Don the costumes. Voila — the characters come alive!

Every rehearsal takes approximately five hours, and rehearsals have been intensive for the last three months. It has been an extremely long process, so we want to make sure we give our best.

We’ve heard complaints that there just aren’t enough arts-related events for kids in Malaysia. What’s your take?

Let’s stop Barney from taking over the world!

We’re trying to solve this problem with more children-related productions. Children need more out-of-the-class experiences — so, from us, musical adventure productions are just the beginning. We’ll be attempting different genres in the future, to jolt little kids’ minds into the unlimited world of creativity.

You are a former radio DJ, columnist, host, emcee, actress, writer, director, mother, and wife. Did we miss anything? How do you deal with the chaos?

I’m a slave to my passions. Selective hearing can override chaos.

Who are some of your influences? Why?

Sylvia Chang, the Hong Kong film director, for her storytelling and her sense of pacing. Carmen Soo, for her ability to appear in my head every time I pen a script.

What are you up to next?

More children’s theatre productions, a few TV dramas, and one movie — all in the span of 2007, hopefully. Fortunately, I am not the impatient type, and I do like to stop and smell the roses, so I will not beat myself silly if my plans go awry. In the end, all that matters are the smiles of satisfied little customers after a show.

What’s irony to you?

Irony is the fact that I love my daughter so much — but I’m also jealous of the love she’s getting.

What is one of the weirdest rumours you’ve heard about yourself?

That I am pregnant — again.

Tell us a really bad joke you heard on set.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Annie who?

Annie thing you can do, Ngai Yuen can do it better.

When this old world starts a-gettin’ you down, where’s your favourite place to hide?

In familiar surroundings. My 12-year-old Honda Civic is a place where I can cry my eyes out. I need to let out my frustrations and negative energy, and I need to do it alone. Otherwise, malapetaka!

First Published: 12.12.2006 on Kakiseni

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