The Gate Theatre is presenting a new musical called “Land of Smiles”. The book, music, and lyrics are by Erin Kamler a Los Angeles-based composer, writer, musician and scholar
I went to the matinee performance at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon.
The Land of Smiles is a fictional, full-length musical about the trafficking of women in Thailand. The story focuses on the aftermath of a brothel raid in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. Lipoh, a young Kachin (ethnic minority) from Burma seems to be underage, and is questioned by an American NGO worker. What transpires is a journey into Thailand’s anti-trafficking movement.
The University of Southern California was a major funder of the project, and most of the cast came from the USA, supported by a few locals. The production staff were local and international. The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand and the We Women’s Foundation were community partners.
The main cast members were Ann Fink (Lewelyn) and Marisa Mour (Achara) both NGO Officers, Amanda Kruger a Case Worker and Jennie Kwan (Lipoh) a young Kachin.
This powerful musical is written in opera style format, with sections of dialogue followed by singing. All the voices of the all female cast were more than adequate. Subtitles in Thai, Burmese, and English were projected behind the players.
I really enjoyed this production. An unusual topic for a musical, but it worked well, and delivered a powerful and emotional message. Another huge success for the Gate Theatre group here in Chiang Mai which enriches our cultural life with their productions.