Dialogue under a red roof
Based on director Euthana Mukdasanit's award-winning film, Saranyu Wongkrachang's upcoming musical 'Lang Kha Dang' examines what passes for normal and abnormal in today's society
Well known actor and film director Saranyu Wongkrachang is stretching his dramatic wings with his latest work, a musical adaptation of Euthana Mukdasanit's 1987 film "Lang Kha Dang", which portrays what people, both normal and those with mental problems, think, say and do.
The musical is, Saranyu says, a reflection of society today though, when asked if it is intended to portray the current political turmoil between the red shirts and yellow shirts, the well known political activist shakes his head,
"When I first decided to put on the musical, I wasn't thinking about using it as a political tool," he says. "If that were the case, I would have adapted it as propaganda.
"In any society, people in mental or psychiatric hospitals are publicly called abnormal or even psychopathic, while the rest are referred to are normal though they are more greedy and have plenty of guile. 'Lang Kha Dang' portrays the ways of life and the thinking of both normal and abnormal people. In the end, the audience will perceive who is really 'abnormal'," he explains.
A Samut Songkhram native, Saranyu - or Tua as he's known to family and friends - is no stranger to the script. He first came up with an adaptation of Euthana's award-winning film, which starred a young Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre and Jintara Sukhapat, for Channel 7 back in 2004.
The title, which translates as "red roof", gets it name from a reference made by a British doctor to a mental hospital - apparently all the psychiatric hospital buildings in the UK sport red roofs.
Saranyu says his TV series stuck to the original story but incorporated a selection of short songs - rather like a musical for the small screen.
"I added music to lighten up the serious story. It was quite a phenomenon in the TV circle! No one had tried to do a drama in a musical format. But it was rejected and then the entire project was dropped. I then wrote the melodrama 'Suphap Burut Luk Phuchai' [Gentlemen], which was very successful with good ratings. Thanks to that success, Channel 7 looked again at 'Lang Kha Dang' but it didn't do as well as 'Luk Phuchai'," says Saranyu, who runs his own production company Nub Neung Neo Film.
"On stage it will be different, as all the characters will be trying to communicate with the audience, who in turn have to use their imagination to understand what they are saying," says Saranyu, who has also written the songs for the show. "The songs are specific to each character and to their scenes and express their feelings".
Set in three acts, "Lang Kha Daeng" stars Toni Rakkaen in the leading role of Koythong or Thongdee, Ramita "Gypso" Mahapreukpong as Alai and Anuchyd "O" Sapanphong as a patient at the mental hospital.
Also taking part are Thai Elvis Presley impersonator Vasu "Jib" Sangsingkeo, Zom Ammara, Pacharapol "Vit" Jantieng of AF 1, Isaree "Micky" Thongthamroj from AF 5, Risa Honghiran, Chanana Nutakom, and DJ Morakot Komolbutr from 104.5 FM Fat Radio. All have been rehearsing for three months and Saranyu says they've been through voice training and movement training.
"We've selected a cast that's not just suitable for the characters and also one who will draw the audience when we open next month," says the director.
Movement of mind
"Lang Kha Dang The Musical" will be staged at M Theatre on New Phetchaburi Road from July 13 to 15 at 7.30pm with 2pm matinees at weekends and again from July 20-22 at the same times.
Tickets cost from Bt800 to Bt2,000 at Thai Ticket Major. Call (02) 262 3456 or visit www.ThaiTicketMajor.com.
Getting into character
What the stars have to say about the roles
"Thongdee is a man who is disappointed with life and tries to commit suicide. Unfortunately, he is also wrongly accused of being a millionaire, and sent to a mental hospital. He tries to tell everyone that he isn't wealthy but nobody believes him. He's really unhappy at first but feels better when he gets to know Alai and finally falls in love with her.
"This is the first time I've performed on stage and I find it a little overwhelming. As a baritone, I find it really hard to hit the higher pitches."
Ramita "Gypso" Mahapreukpong
"Alai has been considered as being mentally unstable for several years and has stayed in the hospital for the best part of a decade. She's cheerful and enjoys living in her own world, which is very different from reality. She also has a massive inferiority complex, the result of having been raped by her stepfather. Like Toni, it's my first time on stage and I've enjoyed learning about my character.
Anuchyd "O" Sapanphong
"I play a man who was born and brought up at the hospital and considers the patients as his neighbours. I find this part easier than my previous stage experience, which was as the cynical Dr Sanson Carrasco in the 2008 production of 'Man of La Mancha'."