Getai, the grassroot live stage show, is getting its own musical in the aptly titled “GE TAI – The Musical“.
The musical, featuring real-life getai artists, gives a rare peek at what happens in the backstage of a getai production, as well as what goes on onstage. Playing at Resorts World Theatre every weekend from 20 April to 29 May 2016, it tells the story of newcomers trying to fit in and teaches a lesson in humility and the importance of familial bonds in show biz.
GE TAI – The Musical is directed by Jalyn Han, a 35-year theatre veteran who has done the whole spectrum in the industry – acting, directing script writing and even teaching theatre. Her recent directorial projects include Small Talk 2015 and Slices of Life, and she was a Life Theatre Awards nominee for Best Supporting Actress for playing Tartuffe.
She shares her thoughts about GE TAI – The Musical and on the getai culture in Singapore.
You’ve done quite a range of roles in 35 years of theatre. Between acting, directing, scriptwriting and teaching theatre, what is your favourite?
I don’t have a particular favourite role. In fact, I love all the different roles in every production I’m in be it directing, acting or teaching.
There are benefits to the different role. Being an actor is a luxury since I can focus mainly on acting. Scriptwriting trains me to “see” the characters and settings from different sides. Teaching for me is learning from my students too.
Directing is somewhat “sadistically” fulfilling since I get to have the challenge of putting together all the elements into a show.
What attracted you to work on GE TAI?
I was attracted to the show because this is a chance for me to work with seasoned getai artists who are also first time actors in a musical.
Getai is a form of popular entertainment and it’s enjoyed by a wide range of audience. I want to tap on the aura and charm of these artists, bring their audience to the theatre and let them realise that theatrical productions are actually quite accessible.
Why do you think getai is seeing a revival now?
Apart from support from loyal getai fans, I personally think that the 2007 movie 881 by Royston Tan is perhaps one of the reasons why this grassroot culture has gained the attention of the public.
Not only that, social media helps to push information about getai, especially when it comes to the getai artists. Getai artists can share their upcoming shows and their daily lives directly with their fans.
There are more getai shows now too. In the past, getai was mostly staged during the seventh lunar month but now you can practically catch a getai show every day.
How will GE TAI – The Musical differ from a traditional getai performance?
We’ll definitely see traditional getai songs and dances. But in the musical, the set is built so that the audience can see what happens onstage and backstage at the same time.
We’re also including characters who work behind the scenes to highlight the important drivers that make every getai show a success.
What are the difficulties bringing the getai stage to a theatre?
Our set has both the getai stage and the backstage. One of the main difficulties is the smooth transitioning of the different scenes, for example when a character exits front stage for the backstage.
There is also a flashback scene where you are transported from 2016 to 1986 and then back to 2016. Our designers have done a great job to produce a seamless transition.
Getai normally attracts a more mature crowd. How do you think the scene can attract a younger audience?
Based on my interaction with people in the getai scene, I find that they’re very inventive and know the popular trends very well. For example, now that K-pop is popular, getai artists have included the songs and dances into their routine too.
The getai artists I’ve met are very disciplined and dedicated to their performances. As long as they keep it up and maintain their performance standards, I think the younger audience will support this craft.
Get your tickets to GE TAI – The Musical