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Putting it together

February 26, 2008

Malaysia Star, Malaysia
25 February, 2008

The animated cast during the the full dress rehearsal.

WITH more than 300 original costumes all to be designed and made
entirely in Malaysia, costume designer Caren Yee, 38, had her hands
full searching for suitable fabric and accessories.

To source for material, her team had to travel to Beijing, Guangdong,
Tibet, Singapore and also different parts of Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur,
Petaling Jaya, Klang, and Banting.

"Costumes from Tang Dynasty China are very different other eras,
rather open and revealing necklines for the upper class though more
covered up for the lower class. We also had to improvise on the
cutting and design of the Chinese costumes as Tang Dynasty Chinese
women were plumper," she said.

"Princess Wen Cheng's wedding gown is very vibrant with grand motifs
and elaborate beadwork and phoenix embroidery. Her Tibetan dress was
made from Chinese fabric with Tibetan motifs sewn on. The King of
Tibet's robes were made from lavish fabric bought from Tibet. His
bulky armour was made from lightweight material that looks just like
metal for ease of movement."

As for the set, Pam Lim, 36 – a childhood friend of Ho's – was roped
in to work on the musical when she shifted back to Malaysia from the
United States. The experienced interior designer says it is her first
time working on set design, and in a musical.
Paulway Chew singing Odyssey Into The Westas Princess Wen Cheng of China.

"There are about 18 continuous scene changes, indoor and outdoor, for
the princess' journey, from arid deserts to wet waterfalls. I even
went to Tibet to do my research and study the materials and
landscapes."

According to Lim, for the Chinese palace, a lot of gold is used to
represent the opulence, while for the vast Tibetan landscapes, the
rich hues of red, blue and black dominate.

Istana Budaya is among the top 10 most sophisticated theatres in the
world and that will help to make the more complex scene changes more
outstanding, says Lim, who was impressed with the flying bars and
elevation facilities available.
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