Two years ago, 22-year-old Tom Chan shared with me his vision of creating a made-in-Hong Kong long-running Cantonese musical. My response was, “I love musicals! But why long-running?” He explained that musicals on Broadway in New York and West End in London can run for several decades, and he believed that Hong Kong deserves such genre. I continued to challenge his bold idea, questioning the viability of the Cantonese market compared to the English-language productions with their vast audience base. Tom replied with confidence, “South Korea stages no less than 20 plays and musicals every day, and the global population of Cantonese speakers surpasses that of Korean speakers. As soon as we beat the stereotype that theatre is solely for a niche audience and make it more accessible, Cantonese musicals can surely find their place in the market.” His passion drove him to personally undertake the roles of playwright, composer, lyricist, director and producer for “Our Journal of Springtime the Musical”, which had already garnered acclaim after numerous trial performances. It is rare to find a young dreamer like him, who has done meticulous planning and extensive research and has a clear vision of his goals as well as the necessary steps to reach them. Moved by his determination, I said, “You have my full support!”
What followed was a series of both imaginable and unimaginable hard work. Staging a musical in Hong Kong faced its first obstacle: finding a suitable venue. Having accepted the fact that it would be impossible to secure a performance space for an extended period of time, Tom made the bold decision to build a theatre specifically for this production. This endeavour involved construction work, obtaining various licences and recruiting individuals who have the same passion and were willing to sacrifice all other performance commitments for at least a year to join his team. Rehearsals and performances were conducted in the midst of the pandemic. As he took on the unprecedented feat of creating this groundbreaking production in Hong Kong, every day brought new challenges. I witness firsthand how this young individual has tackled each obstacle in his unwavering pursuit of his dream, being fully aware that challenges will keep coming. Fast forward to now, “Our Journal of Springtime the Musical” has made the record of a successful run of over a year. Tom has turned what once seemed like a dream into a tangible reality. While many may call him a genius, I consider myself an eligible witness to testify that his success lies in his relentless effort and unwavering dedication. Realising one’s dreams is not merely a slogan but requires action, perseverance and hard work.