Touch of the daft & deft

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Charming Vietnam Gala will deploy some "˜crazy,' talented energy as it seeks to blaze a new trail.

The latest, upcoming edition of Duyen Dang Viet Nam (Charming Vietnam) breaks new ground in many ways.

It veers away from urban cultural hotspots in the country to a relatively underprivileged province, does not carry its usual "star" value, has a man nicknamed "crazy Dung" as its director and features circus acts for the first time.

Nhip tho bien (Breath of sea), as this edition has been themed, promises to have fresh breezes blowing through the event, both in its casting of talent and in its staging theatrics, when it takes place on March 20 and 21.

Nguyen Cong Khe, head organizer of the event and chairman of the Thanh Nien Media Corporation, is confident that talent will overcome the lack of stars in this year's gala.

"We have made up for what Phu Yen Province has missed with a contract of five years for organizing Charming Vietnam Gala in the province. This time gala can be called a revolution because this is not a "˜rendezvous for stars' like earlier. But less stars does not mean less quality, and I hope the gala will lend a helping hand to boost Phu Yen Province's image in our country's developing era," he said.

Khe also said that besides being a cultural bridge between Vietnam and foreign countries, Charming Gala now aims to strengthen national development in entertainment.

Tenderfeet

The reins of the 22nd edition of the nation's premier entertainment event are in the hands of a group of tenderfeet, like director Nguyen Quang Dung, music editor Huy Tuan and some greenhorn singers and models.

Dung has said he will use many "tricks" in a very special version of Charming Vietnam for both the stage and television.

"I think the most difficult challenge is making a difference because the gala has become a brand name with all kinds of riveting performances. The reduction in stars is the first novelty in the show, but it will still wow guests with new concepts in lighting, sound, images and stage arrangement."

Dung also said that it will be an honor for the show to seek and shine the spotlight on potential stars that can become famous using real talent. He also affirmed that the debut by a circus show in the gala will help the concert "fly higher."

Composer Huy Tuan said he had experienced what was for him a strange feeling of nervousness as he takes part in the show for the first time.

"Dung's daring and original ideas are inspiring but they also push me to take risks. I will try my best. The performances of young stars like rock artists Pham Anh Khoa and Anh Khang singing folk songs could make for interesting surprises and breathe new life into our traditional music.

"The mixture of pop, rock and operatic styles of three generations of artists, or a new remixed song of most beautiful lyrics about sea or the presentation of an angel at the end of the show will be quite a coup," he said, betraying no sign of the nervousness that he said he'd felt.

Undoubtedly sexy

She is making her debut at the gala, but Huong Giang does not lack star value.

Listed among the top 3 "Sexiest Woman Alive" in the world on globalbeauties.com, her participation adds spice to the gala's fashion show component that is already planning some sexy innovations with its ao yem (brassiere), stylized ao dai and beach outfits.

Model Trang Nhung said she was amazed with the costumes that were chic but also very provocative. This is also a risk taken by leading local designers Lien Huong, Thuan Viet and Son Collection.

The designers said they've had to change their personal styles to serve the gala's concepts. Lien Huong's stylized ao dai collection with striking colors, Thuan Viet with a diverse crystal vignette on brassieres and Son Collection's bejeweled outfits "inspired by the ocean's creatures" will match the event's aim of being different, they assert.

The bottom line of the show, though, is its objective, reminded Nguyen Quang Thong, editor-in-chief of the Thanh Nien Newspaper. The gala is primarily geared towards raising money to provide scholarships to help outstanding, poor students in the country through the Nguyen Thai Binh Fund and Vietnam Talent Fund.

Tickets to the Charming Vietnam event cost from VND200,000 (U$$10) to VND2 million ($100).

The March 21 show will be broadcast live on two local TV channels, VTV3and VTV4, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

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