Take a classic written by one of the greatest English playwrights of all time and retell it through an 800-year-old Asian art form and you get the Mak Yong Titis Sakti, a traditional spin on the Shakespearean romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Happening at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from 27 January until 4 February, the story chronicles the tale of a love triangle gone wrong, told in the form of mak yong, a Malay performing art from northeastern Kelantan state that features singing, dancing and drama accompanied by traditional instruments. The play is conducted in the national language of Bahasa Malaysia.
Celebration of Life
The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra pays tribute to the late award-winning composer Leonard Bernstein on his centennial anniversary with a stellar line-up of performances throughout the month. Bernstein's Best of Broadway on 6 and 7 January sees conductor Teddy Abrams and New York-based singer Morgan James recreating timeless music from productions such as West Side Story, Peter Pan and Candide. The tribute continues with Bernstein at 100 on 12 and 13 January, celebrating his popular compositions like Divertimento for Orchestra and Symphony No. 2 ‘The Age of Anxiety’, with Eiji Oue conducting and Conrad Tao on piano.
Sailing the Tropics
The heat is on at the 16th Royal Langkawi International Regatta, which returns to the beautiful island of Langkawi from 8 until 13 January. Catch the exciting race amid a stunning backdrop of rolling green hills and the azure waters of the Andaman Sea. Veterans and newcomers alike will test their skill and mettle against changing weather and sea conditions as they battle it out for the prestigious Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy.
Catch one of the world’s most acclaimed theatre productions as Cats: The Musical makes its way to the Hong Kong Performing Arts Academy from 6 January to 4 February. The revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical remains as fresh and as exciting as ever, 36 years after it first debuted on London’s West End. Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the story tells of the Jellicle tribe of Cats, who come together one night to decide which of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and a new life. A magnificent score, extraordinary choreography, an innovative junkyard set and a talented cast of characters in colourful, mischievous costumes all come together to create a brilliant song and dance spectacle not to be missed.
The annual Sydney Festival returns to transform the city from 6 to 28 January with the best of theatre, dance, circus, visual art and music. Featuring over 136 events and 700 performances in venues across the city, highlights include Aquasonic, an ethereal underwater concert performed by musicians while submerged in aquariums, as well as Circus Oz’s latest show, Model Citizens. Discover art installations such as Jurassic Plastic, an expansive plastic toy landscape with towering toy dinosaurs, and Four Thousand Fish, a showcase of a giant canoe with thousands of fish made of ice. Other interesting attractions include the world’s first Karaoke Carousel, as well as Glitterbox, where visitors can dance in a giant colourful cube pulsating with glitter.
Following a revamp, the Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore reopens its permanent exhibition, Ancient Religions. The collection features some of Southeast Asia’s most valuable religious treasures and artefacts, and traces the development of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism across the continent, evolving over the centuries into the versions of each religion we know today. Witness the art of Gandhara (now northern Pakistan and Afghanistan), China and Southeast Asia in the form of elaborate deity statues, detailed busts and well-preserved reliefs, to name a few.
Held annually since 2003, the Hwacheon Sancheono Ice Festival is a family-friendly affair that transforms the quiet county of Hwacheon in Gangwon province into a wintry getaway. Ice-fishing takes centrestage, as visitors try to catch sancheono (mountain trout), abundant in the region’s clear streams. If you’re up for an unforgettable experience, try bare-handed fishing in the icy-cold waters, dressed in nothing but a T-shirt and shorts. There are also designated fishing zones for children. Partake in winter activities such as ice skating and snow sledding, or visit the local attractions such as a Salmon Craft Studio and the Hwacheon Ecological Film Centre.