"Roy Duriyang the Musical" revisits a historic performance while connecting a new generation to the refined sounds of a bygone era
TWO YEARS AFTER staging “Mae Bia: The Erotic Art Musical”, event organiser Index Creative Village returns to the theatre this month with “Roy Duriyang the Musical”.
The story is loosely inspired by the 19 Siamese musicians who performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall 130 years ago during the reign of King Rama V – an event recently commemorated by a Thai classical dance performance at the same venue in honour of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s 60th birthday.
“I made an assumption that Thailand’s art and culture were also on display during the 1862 World Expo, and indeed our research proved that those 19 musicians travelled to England for a music performance at the International Inventions and Music Exhibition during the reign of Queen Victoria,” says Kriangkan Kanjanapokin, co-chief executive officer of Index Creative Village.
“Thai classical music in the reign of King Rama V was booming, and almost all the palaces had their own piphat [Thai classical music] ensemble. Burapha Phirom Palace, Bang Khun Phrom Palace and Ban Moh Palace all entered their musicians in competitions,” Kriangkan says. “I would like to see young Thais pay more attention to our classical music and our musical gives them an opportunity to learn about it through a narrative history told through flashbacks.”
According to historical records, the 19-member classical music ensemble was a cultural troupe whose mission it was to develop friendly relations with England during the reign of Queen Victoria. The musicians, who included khlui (flute) player Praya Prasarn Duriyasap, known as Plaek Prasarnsap, and ranad (xylophone) player Nai Khram, sailed from Bangkok to England via Singapore and Sri Lanka.
This was the first performance by any Thai ensemble at the Royal Albert Hall. More importantly, the band was given the chance to perform in front of Queen Victoria at her private residence, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The queen was very impressed, when the ensemble performed “God Save the Queen” and particularly enjoyed Praya Prasarn Duriyasap’s khlui solo performance.
“My purpose is not so much to present those musicians, other than in the scene of the live music performance in front of Queen Victoria, but to ask why don’t young Thais pay attention to our art and culture,” Kriangkan says.
Among the cast is Preeti “Bank” Barameeanant , the lead singer of the rock group Clash. He portrays the main character Cherd, a great-grandfather, at three different ages: 25, 50 and 88.
Nat “Natthew” Thewphaingarm, an “Academy Fantasia” alumnus who has signed with South Korea’s CJ Entertainment, portrays Mai, Cherd’s great-grandson, a youngster fascinated by Western sounds. He plays in a rock band with keyboardist Potay (played by Tachaya “Keng the Voice” Prathumwan) and guitarist Thumbdrive (Kunchanuj Kengkarnka).
Savitree “Beau” Suttichanond, also from “Academy Fantasia”, plays Cherd’s love interest Duangduen at the ages of 18, 43 and 81.
The musical opens with a battle of the bands, in which Mai’s group qualifies for the finals. Desperate for a place to rehearse, he leads them to the elderly Cherd’s home, now used to store his classical instruments. When Mai finds the Thai xylophone and raps the wooden bars with the mallets, he flashes back to the past and meets a 25-year-old Cherd who is scouting for musicians to perform in England.
“When Mai flashes back to the past for the second time, he meets Cherd at 50 years old and Cherd is furious with the young man for playing Western music, not Thai music,” says Kriengkan.
The musical includes a medley of two traditional Thai songs, “Thep Banthom” and “Pirom Surang”, both of which were performed live for Queen Victoria. “Lao Duang Duen” is sung by Bank and Beau as young lovers while on a boat, which “sails” on a wirelessly controlled platform, which was imported from Germany at a cost of Bt2.5 million.
Bodyslam’s hit “Saeng Sudthai” is also performed.
“I would like Thai youngsters to see their idols performing and singing traditional Thai music,” says Kriangkan, adding that Index has invested Bt30 million in the production.
In addition to celebrating the Princess’ birthday and commemorating the 130th anniversary of the Royal Albert Hall performance, “Roy Duriyang” marks the 25th anniversary of Index Creative Village.
TICKETS SELLING FAST
- “Roy Duriyang the Musical” will be performed from August 20 to 25 at the Thailand Cultural Centre.
- Several shows are already sold out. Tickets are Bt500 to Bt3,000, available at ThaiTicketMajor.
- Take a peak at the show at youtu.be/Ob0Xc0oRL2k, youtu.be/gVbMDSArK4I and youtu.be/4LAbnC9GzfU. Find out more at www.Facebook.com/IndexCreative.