On the first night there is always this piece of opera called Liu Guo (六國大封相). The full version lasts more than an hour; but for street opera it is usually about 45 minutes. The street opera group will have to get extra performers for this.
There were three such thanksgiving opera shows - at Toa Payoh, Whampoa and Sims Drive. They lasted between 3 to 4 days.
I was at Sims Drive because it was the nearest.
The stage at Sims Drive was quite small and the backstage was very congested on the first night. It was very warm and humid. Imagine more than a dozen people putting on their costumes and the dressing-assistants going round to help them. Among these were 6 who were acting as warriors and had to put on their armour costume together with flags sticking up on their back.
The lead xiaosheng was Lau Wai Meng and the lead huadan was Ko Lai. The second sheng was Aw Bun Feng. I think it was the first time I saw him. He is quite good.
There were about three young performers I have not seen in the previous year. Later I went backstage to talk to one of them. She said it was their first time here. I asked her if she belonged to any troupe in HK. She said they were not actually ‘performers’ yet but were students learning the art in some association. I think they were here to gain experience and exposure. They were acting only minor roles like palace maids with few singing parts and little dialogue.
This troupe is not bad, at least they got more maids, villagers, etc. There was one year the poor princess didn’t even have a single palace maid to accompany her in one scene.
lead sheng 劉惠鳴
lead dan 高麗
second sheng 區品峰
second dan 翠縈
palace maids, Lum Lum & Vivian
the messy backstage