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Phuket Events: Coming up in wonderland

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: When the Phuket Gazette interviewed them a few months back, Sonu Kapoor and Vikram Singh, the owners of Events International, had just settled in Phuket and were about to set out on their mission to quench the island’s thirst for more fun. Now, with two sold-out Abba Forever shows behind them, we know they placed their bets right – Phuket is a Wonderland for businesses dealing with arts and entertainment – two things the island needs more of, and as much as Abba Forever delivered, it was just the beginning. “We got an overwhelming response, people started asking what’s next. That’s why we’re serious about the upcoming shows,” says Sonu.

But before they move on to the upcoming events, they take a minute to reflect on the past and what they learned from the shows in Laguna. “We got a better response than we expected, and I think the main reason for that was the tremendous amount of publicity that we did. In the future, as time goes by and people become more and more aware of the kind of activity we offer, we should tone down the publicity,” explains Vikram, adding that the effort did pay off. “We broke even. Which we didn’t expect, because whenever you do something for the first time, normally you expect to lose a bit of money. As in any business, it takes some time to build it.”

But what Sonu finds especially gratifying is not only the financial side of the enterprise, but the way the previous shows brought different people together to share good fun. “What was great was the different age groups coming in. We had five-year-olds having fun, 30-plus, 40-plus and even 70-plus enjoying the show. It was meant to be a family entertainment show and that’s something we achieved.”

And even though their next show, another Gazette Headline Event, is aimed at the youngest members of Phuket’s audience, Sonu and Vikram are convinced that it will attract people of all ages again. “We’re bringing a children’s musical from London – Alice in Wonderland. But I’m sure a lot of parents will also show up with their kids. The venue is absolutely amazing – fabulous sound, light, great food and a lot of parking,” says Vikram. Sonu confirms, “I was talking to one 50-plus lady about Alice in Wonderland and I asked if she’s going to come and she replied, ‘Of course I’m going to come!’, even though she doesn’t have any kids here to bring to the show. So again, the age of the audience could be anything from four to 70.”

There sure is a lot in the upcoming show to attract people of all ages. “There were many versions of Alice in Wonderland in the past but this has its own special take on the classic. There are a lot of songs and music, and as we can’t carry all 25 actors from London, there will be seven or eight actors playing multiple roles, which means many costumes,” explains Vikram. “There’s a lot of audience interaction too,” adds Sonu.

Not only are Sonu and Vikram experimenting with their target audience, but also with the venues.

“We use a different venue every time. Last time, Laguna did a fabulous job. Now for Alice in Wonderland, we managed to get the Simon Star Theater in Phuket Town, which is a completely different venue,” explains Vikram.

And to keep true to their idea of bringing the island closer together, this time Events International wants to attract more locals to the show. “We want to reach out to the Thai community. So we reach out to Thai schools to have the students participate,” explains Sonu. “A dear friend of ours, Kuhn Kiranee Narabal, who comes from an educational background and is a lecturer at one of the universities, has been helping us to contact all the big schools like Thai Hua, Satree, Phuket Wittayalai and all the others, and they have been very, very welcoming and positive about it. So we’re hoping to see a good Thai crowd as well,” she adds.

Thanks to Events International, both Thais and foreigners will get many more chances to enjoy live music and theater in the upcoming months. After Alice in Wonderland, Phuket will be rocked by a Beatles tribute band, a show from the West End, and a Jazz concert. “We all have different tastes. The idea is to bring in different productions, get as many people as possible to enjoy the shows, and get the whole community together.”

“We are experimenting, but at the same time the idea is to reach many people and different age groups to make sure everybody is happy when they leave the concert,” explains Sonu. “And I think everybody on the island should be enjoying culture, not just the international community, or Thai community, but everybody. Music goes beyond all these borders.”

Here are the schools that helped market Alice in Wonderland: British International School, Headstart, Kajonkiet International Schools, QSI, Oak Meadow International, Phuket Wittayalai school, Satree Phuket School, Darasamuth Phuket School Daorung School, Phuket Thai Hua School, and Anuphas Phuket Town.

Events International presents Alice in Wonderland on January 25 and 26, 11:00am at the Simon Star Theater in Phuket Town. Tickets are 600 baht and are available at Les Diables Boat Lagoon, Villa Market Chalong, and Canal Village Laguna. For more information call 091-326 0276 or e-mail [email protected].


— Maciek Klimowicz

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Protests

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht

The Thaiger

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K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Fan-funded 'happy birthday' signs around Thailand's BTS and MRT station

Art meets politics again, this time with hundreds of thousands of K-Pop fans raising funds in support of the growing student protest movement in Thailand. So far they’ve raised more than 3 million baht (as of 10am this morning) but the amount is rising quickly as Thai and overseas K-Pop fans respond. The most popular band in Thailand at the moment is BTS, the South Korean septet which is currently the most popular band in the world (as of today BTS commands the Number 1 and Number 2 positions on the US Billboard singles chart).

BTS fans have so far been the largest contributors donating funds to the protest cause.

The BTS Thailand page, not to be confused with the BTS Skytrain, is urging K-pop fans to stop the practice of paying for billboards in support of their favourite idols and to celebrate the birthdays of the 7 members. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook issued a statement on their fanpage asking fans to stop funding the BTS and MRT “inconvenienced protesters and normal citizens from getting home and putting them in danger”.

Bangkok’s two main rail systems were closed down over the weekend as police and protesters played a cat and mouse game. The protesters were withholding the announcement of protest locations to the last minute whilst police second-guessed their moves, ending up in mass inconvenience for the wider public in shutting down the entire network, including the Airport link.

“We’re calling Armys and other fans to stop buying ad projects with the BTS and MRT.” (“Army” is the name of BTS fans.

Fans of K-pop groups as well as other “idol” groups often pool their resources to purchase display ads in the MRT and BTS stations wishing their stars happy birthday or on other significant anniversaries.

It’s thought that many more millions of baht will be raised by the K-Pop fans in the next few days.

The young Thai protesters are tapping into a strong social media network, and have “weaponised” the social media and messaging platforms. The main App they are now using, to communicate their intentions, is “Telegram”, developed by a young Russian couple but now operating out of Germany. The App features encypted messages, impossible to track, and has 400 million monthly active users.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video telephony and voice over IP service with end-to-end encryption for secret chat only, whereas Cloud chat uses client-server/server-client encryption and its messages are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud – Wikipedia

Meanwhile, other K-Pop acts that have mobilised their fans win support include Girls’ Generation, GOT7, NCT, WannaOne, Nu’est, X1, Day 6, Red Velvet, MonstaC, Woodz, Shinee, Super Junior and R1se. We’re sure the fans of Black Pink are also contributing but didn’t have their figures available at the time of publishing. Fans of popular Thai actors and celebrities are also donating to the pool.

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World

Rock star Eddie Van Halen loses cancer battle – VIDEO

Maya Taylor

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Rock star Eddie Van Halen loses cancer battle – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Rock icon Eddie Van Halen has died, after losing a long battle with cancer. His son, Wolfgang Van Halen, took to Twitter to announce the death of his 65 year old musician father.

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”

Born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen in the Netherlands, Eddie Van Halen’s family moved to California when he was 6 years old. Eddie took piano lessons from a young age and went on to become one of the world’s biggest rock stars, forming the band Van Halen with his brother Alex and singer David Lee Roth. The band had numerous hits, including their most successful single, Jump, released in 1983.

Tension between Van Halen and singer Roth saw the latter leave the band in 1985, but he returned for a 2007 reunion tour. A 2012 tour had to be cancelled due to Eddie Van Halen’s health problems, but a 2015 tour of North America was able to go ahead.

Eddie Van Halen had a well-documented history of alcohol and drug abuse and several health problems that impacted negatively on his work. The alcoholism and drug addiction were major contributors to his divorce in 2007 after a 16 year marriage to actress Valerie Bertinelli. In 2015, he spoke out about his addictions and the effect they had had on him personally and professionally.

“I was an alcoholic, and I needed alcohol to function. I didn’t drink to party. Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake, and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.”

In 2000, a year after undergoing hip surgery, he was diagnosed with tongue cancer following years of smoking. The diagnosis led to him having part of his tongue removed. In 2002, he was declared cancer-free, but the illness subsequently re-surfaced and he was reported to be receiving treatment again last year.

Tributes from some of the biggest names in the music world poured in Tuesday following news of his death.

From Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi…

“I’m just devastated to hear the news of the passing of my dear friend Eddie Van Halen. He fought a long and hard battle with his cancer right to the very end. Eddie was one of a very special kind of person, a really great friend. Rest In Peace my dear friend till we meet again.”

From Yusuf/Cat Stevens…

“Sad to hear Eddie Van Halen has passed away. A guitar innovator with a fierce spirit of musical and technical exploration. Prayers and thoughts with his family and friends.”

US songwriter Diane Warren said in a tweet that “guitars are gently weeping everywhere. Shred In Power Eddie Van Halen.”

The rocker is survived by his second wife Janie Liszewski and his son, as well as his first wife Bertinelli.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween

Caitlin Ashworth

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Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: The Club Khaosan

The party is coming back to Khao San Road this Halloween. The once booming backpacker district went through a renovation during the lockdown period and now the Bangkok governor says they’re ready to reopen the street.

Khao San Road has long been a district frequented by foreign backpackers. It’s known for it’s grungy and lively bar scene as well as its eccentric mix of street food, like scorpion on a stick. During the lockdown, 48.4 million baht was put into the streets for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designating space for emergency vehicles.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang says a Khao San Road Halloween party to help stimulate travel. There was talk about removing street vendors from Khao San Road, but the idea got a lot of backlash. Luckily, street food will stay put and 240 food vendors will be set up along the street from 9am to midnight for the Halloween weekend.

Khao San Road will also run a street market and set a stage for performances on the November 28 and 29 as well as News Years weekend, according to Nation Thailand.

Aswin says events are also planned for Loy Krathong and New Years. The area around the street was so packed during last year’s New Years, that streets and alleyways were more like mosh pits. Phones were stolen, fights broke out. It was a mess.

Loy Krathong happens every year on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. People make offerings for the water goddess and ask for forgiveness. A krathong is usually made of banana stems, leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. It’s then floated down a river.

Khao San Road isn’t known as a place where people ask for forgiveness, but apparently Loy Krathong will be celebrated along with other cultural events, according to Coconuts Bangkok. Loy Krathong happens to fall on Halloween this year.

SOURCES: Coconuts Bangkok | Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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