Birds of different feathers do flock together. That's what happened when about 100 HKUST students from different departments and disciplines, plus a sprinkling of culture-loving alumni came together to stage two performances of a Broadway musical, "AIDA" at the Ngau Chi Wan Culture & Recreation Center on 18 & 19 July, in celebration of HKUST's 20th anniversary.
Both performances were sold out, and the audiences were completely sold on the performance. The all-student cast acted, danced and sang their hearts out. This famous story of an ancient love triangle was brought back to life passionately and professionally by our students, under the inspired direction of Prof Oliver Lo, HKUST's Adjunct Professor, our guru of music. The dialogue was crisp, the dancing throbbed with energy, giving this ancient tale its modern rhythms, and the singing superb and soul-searing. It was hard to believe that this poignant story does not grow old across the ages with this young cast.
On closing night, except for the out-of-town Provost, the HKUST top administrators came with their spouses, led by the President Prof Tony Chan. Some of us who went were secretly guilty of low expectations. But all were to be publicly and pleasantly surprised, for it was a high-quality production worthy of Broadway's amateur best. And it was better than Broadway in at least one aspect: the appreciative audience was given permission to clap when the singing, dancing or acting so moved them. And so, the musical was frequently interrupted by enthusiastic applause and other forms of spontaneous appreciation.
Few knew that it was put together by the students in just six weeks immediately following their final exams, causing some to hail it as a minor miracle. The President, who believes that culture will make our students whole, was especially pleased and proud that this musical night out has put paid to the notion that universities of science and technology are cultural deserts. We are more like an oasis where a hundred flowers bloom.