Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finding a star

Nget Sophal on stage, rehearsing Polrith's Letter song. Photo courtesy
Sarah O'Brien, the composer of Winds of Angkor, which was so well-received on its first-ever showing at Chaktomuk Theatre on Sunday, has been in bed for the past 2 days with a tummy bug and fever. She is hoping to be well enough to fly back to the US and her Los Angeles home tomorrow. In the meantime, she spent a couple of hours today giving me the lowdown on the trials and tribulations of getting the 'highlights' of her musical onto the stage, after she first thought of composing the story more than a decade ago. That journey would fill a book on its own, though a lot of the background machinations over the past year and including their appearance at the Cambodian Youth Arts Festival on Sunday will be part of a documentary, which they hope to finalize later this year. One of the nicest moments for Sarah on Sunday, and there were many, was the performance on stage of Nget Sophal, who is a waiter at the boutique Villa Paradiso, where the cast and crew were staying whilst in Phnom Penh. Sarah's guide in Siem Reap, Polrith, had written a moving tale of history interwoven with a love story and given it to Sarah when they were filming the documentary at Ta Prohm. She asked Sophal to translate it but he actually sang it to her. He was so good that she asked him to sing it at the performance on Sunday, which he nervously agreed to, having never appeared in anything of that nature before. Watched by his Villa Paradiso colleagues, Sophal gave a brilliant rendition of Polrith's Letter and it worked a treat. It was such a last minute change that he didn't even appear on the show's program listing. However, he pulled it off without a hitch and was so seamless no-one knew he'd never performed in public before. Bravo Sophal, a star in the making.

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