Last May, the people of Penang were treated to the first ever musical to be written, directed, cast and premiered entirely in Penang. Lucky for us, the brains behind that production, which was called Abbie & the A Team, are back again this May, with another musical premiere, One Minute to Midnight. The musical was written by globe-trotter turned Penang resident Dr. Nancy Jenster, and is her third full-length musical. It tells the story of how Mother Earth blows a fuse and demands that some youngsters give her a hand defeating her ages-old antagonist, the villainous “Grida Profiterole”.

The story’s inspiration was the news report last year about a young whale that had died on the coast of Germany after eating too much plastic garbage. Feeling outraged and helpless, Nancy imagined a conversation between Mother Earth and her human children, that might have echoed some of her own conversations with her own kids when they were small. She imagined Mother Earth yelling at us, saying – “Humans, I’ve had it with you! Clean up your mess or I’m going to clean up the Earth and get rid of you – your time is up! I have had it! ” The result was the first power ballad of the show, “Who is Gonna Clean Up” and a day later Nancy wrote, “Carry Me Over”, a sweet and sad ballad sung by Wanda the young Orca whale. The show ends with “The Final Straw” a ballad of hope for Planet Earth and an anthem to encourage efforts to clean up the oceans. You can listen to the songs on the show’s website here:

The story is being performed by an energetic , mutli-ethnic cast of 18 local Penang-based actors, the youngest of whom is 13, and the oldest of whom is 65; some are seasoned performers, but for others this represents their first chance to sing, act and dance in a musical. The lead role, Mother Earth or “Gaia” is artfully interpreted by 22 year old Claudia Angelique Ng, who brings a Tina Turner vibe to her performance of the hard-hitting rock ballads, lighting up the stage with a warm and vibrant soprano and dramatic sense of timing. Her antagonist, the villain of the show, Grida Profiterole, is played in an appropriately dark, sinister manner by Charity Yong. The team of four wunderkind chemistry students is led by Abbie, played by Anjali Kaptain, the same character and actor as in last year’s musical, 

The musical is directed by Fa Abdul, who has only recently completed a very successful and sold-out run of Rebound, a series of 10 short plays she wrote and directed, also at penangpac. A Penang native, she is a columnist as well as an award-winning scriptwriter, producer, and director. Choreography is by Aida Redza, award-winning artistic director of the Penang modern dance ensemble, “Euphoria”.

This family-focused show is filled with catchy tunes, upbeat dance numbers, colourful fantastic costumes, sea creatures, and a live band of Penang musicians. It promises to deliver many laughs and maybe a few tears too. 

One Minute to Midnight will take place at penangpac, Straits Quay, with performances at 8pm on Friday 3rd May and Saturday 4th May, and a matinee at 3pm on Sunday 5th May. Early bird tickets are available until April 20th for RM 30 each, after that the price is RM 50. Tickets can be purchased at the penangpac box office or here.