Saturday, April 22, 2017

Familiar yet Wonderfully different... Review of La Cage Aux Folles

La Cage Aux Folles by W!LD RICE

Gala Night, 8pm @ Victoria Theatre Singapore

As readers of my blog will already know, I caught the 2012 production and got a rave review by me. Until today, it is one of the best locally produced musical I have watched in Singapore. The 2017 production? ... Excellent.

You can read more about La Cage here in my preview of this show. Today, its all about the review. 

Let me start by asking you this .. What makes a great musical? Superb acting, beautiful singing, a dash of humour and lots of heart. W!ld Rice’s La Cage Aux Folles had all this and more.

Victoria Theatre is the perfect venue for the staging of La Cage. It is small and yet cosy. The close proximity of the audience to the stage brings a level of ‘intimacy’ with the actors. I was seated in the Circle seats on the second floor but yet I had full view of the stage and could feel the warmth and emotion from the show.

Firstly, let me start with the Cagelles. I have no idea how they can be so graceful IN HEELS. They were doing splits, can-can, burlesque and even cartwheels. Their feet must be aching like crazy now!! They are very good and I especially liked the ‘tap’ routine. Kudos to you guys .. your hours of practicing have paid off with your spectacular routines.


The lead actors, Ivan Heng and Sean Ghazi were superb. I cannot think of anyone in Singapore and even in Asia who can play the role of Albin / Zaza except Ivan Heng. The flamboyance, the mood swings, the emotions, the singing ... all perfectly performed by Ivan. The role of George involved more singing and Sean Ghazi did not disappoint with his voice. His rendition of ‘Song on the Sand’ and ‘Look over There’ was just breathtaking. I could see other members of the audience dabbing their eyes moved with emotion at his singing. The on stage chemistry between the two leads was good but I feel that this could be improved. This is understandable as this is only the second night, as the show goes on the chemistry should grow. However, please do not let this minor point take away the due praise I have for the two lead actors for their excellent performance.

The supporting cast provided most of the comic relief throughout the show. Hossan Leong was his usual impish self which we all love. I feel that Aaron Khaled as Jonathan’s acting and singing could be stronger with more emotion. From where I sat, his singing was often muffled and drowned out by the music. (edit - at my second viewing of La Cage, Aaron Khaled was excellent and his singing was spot-on. His rendition of 'Look over there' brought tears to my eyes.) Jo Tan brought a lot of laughs from the audience and Darius Tan did a good job as the ‘stiff’ Dr. C.K. Tan (pun intended). Congratulations to Mae Elliessa on her Singapore stage debut. Her role as Ann was too short for me to comment but I could see she definitely has the potential to be excellent under the tutelage of the W!ld Rice team. I expected more stage time from Erwin Shah Ismail. I have always maintained that he is one of the future stars of Singapore theatre.

A special mention MUST go Frederick Lee the costume designer of this show. The costumes are breathtaking. I normally have photos of the show in my review, but for this review I decided not to so that the audience (who read this blog) can be as awe-struck as me by Frederick’s super work.

I am sure that W!ld Rice’s re-telling of La Cage will be nominated for many categories at the next ST Life! Theatre Awards and they deserve it. Standing ovations tonight and last night .. they deserve it. I foresee standing ovations at every show .. they deserve it.

I strongly urge / recommend / coerce / influence / force you to go get tickets to La Cage if you haven’t. The show will run until the 13th May 2017. As I understand there are not many tickets left so quickly log on to SISTIC and get your tickets. This is one show you mustn’t miss, in fact try to catch it several times !! I will be catching it again tomorrow afternoon and if time permits I hope to watch it one more time before it ends and I have to wait 5 more years.


Thanks again to W!ld Rice for this awesome production of La Cage. You have showed me once again what Singapore theatre is capable of.... La Da Da Da ... and I am young .. and in love....

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Akan Datang - W!ld Rice's La Cage Aux Folles ..

Happy New Year to all of you !! May 2017 bring you Great Health and Wealth !!


La Cage Aux Folles. This is not the first time La Cage has been done by W!ld Rice. W!ld Rice brought La Cage to us at the Esplanade Theatre in mid 2012. My biggest regret was that I could only watch it once as tickets were sold out weeks before it opened. I wanted to watch it again and again. I loved the songs, the singing was excellent, the dancing was brilliant and the acting brought tears to my eyes. I was not the only one mesmerised. From what I read, the house had standing ovations every night during that 2012 run. My review of the 2012 edition can be found at here.

La Cage Aux Folles is a musical comedy based on a play written in 1973 but its meaning and values are even more valid today than then. It is about embracing diversity in our ever increasing complex relationships. What I love about La Cage is it brings a new perspective on family relationships and challenges our preconceived archaic norms on it. La Cage debuted on Broadway in 1983 and has been played all over the world to sold-out crowds garnering many awards. The movie ‘Birdcage’ starring Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams was also based on this musical.

W!ld Rice promises a re-imagination of La Cage in 2017. The producer Glen Goei, has assembled a team of the very best in the industry from the music director, the choreographer for the dance scenes, costume designers (absolutely stunning.. I have seen a sneak preview) and actors. The two main roles will be played by Ivan Heng and Sean Ghazi. Need I say more? Supporting actors include Hossan Leong, Darius Tan, Jo Tan, Dwayne Lau and Erwin Shah (all of whom are outstanding in their own right).
Dazzling photo from the 2012 production

For the 2017 re-telling, W!ld Rice has decided to play at the Victoria Theatre. Imagine the dazzling lights, gorgeous costumes against the backdrop of the classic Victoria Theatre. WoW ... its gonna be great ! If anyone here can make La Cage shine ... its will be W!ld Rice.

W!ld rice will have a La Cage Aux Folles specific website at http://lacage.sg which goes live on 16 January 2017. Tickets also go on sale via SISTIC on the same day. Showdates are from 19 April to 13 May 2017. My advice to all of you is get your tickets early !! I am very sure that tickets are going to fly off really really fast. Also there will be various discount tiers based on how early you buy your tickets from bumper discounts of up to 25%.  


As we enter 2017, Singapore faces a lot of uncertainty economically but to borrow a line from one of the songs of La Cage, “We face life though its sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter; face life, with a little cuts and lots of glitter.” Let W!ld Rice give you something sweet and glittery this year. Go catch La Cage....

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Mayday or Wu Yeh Tian (五月天) ... 突然好想你 (suddenly miss you so much)

Hi all !! Greetings from SingaporeDramaMama. Sorry it has been almost 6 mths since my last post. Honestly, Les Mis was the last thing I caught in the theatre. Since then I have been busy with real life to watch anything much.

What I DID catch was Mayday concert in August and Jay Chou concert in September. The less I say about the Jay Chou concert the better. All I wanna say is I will never watch a Jay Chou concert again and no more concerts in National Stadium as well.



Which brings us to the Mayday concert. Most of you may not know who Mayday is. Mayday is a Taiwanese rock band. More information about them can be found here. They have been around for ages but I only knew about them about 8 years ago as introduce by S. Only in the last 1-2 years have I started actively listening to them. I heard that their concerts were super so when they were coming here for concert, I thought I had to see them. This year, they came to Singapore for two nights (5th & 6th August). I only managed to get 1 single ticket for the 5th August and so I couldn’t bring S with me. They were here for their “Just Rock It” tour.

I will not be going into full details of the concert as you can easily read more about the concerts on the internet. All I can say is IT WAS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC !!! It was so good that I did my best to get another two tickets for the 2nd day concert and took S along. IT WAS INCREDIBLE !!!! BOTH NIGHTS !!! I have never been so entertained at any show, any concert, any play and any event in my entire life. Every minute of the 3 hours per concert was filled with joy. Over the years I have gone for Santana, Clapton, Metallica, Mr Big, Emi Fujita etc concerts but this is easily the best ever. In October I went for the Mayday concert in Kuala Lumpur as well and it was again wonderful. I will be going for 2 nights of Mayday concert in Tokyo early 2017 as well !! This time at the Budokan !!! This is my first time to the legendary Budokan and to watch Mayday !! If not for work commitments, I will be in Taipei now to catch the Mayday concert. 9 days of Mayday concert !!!!!

For once, I am lost for words about how great the concert was. The showmanship, the energy, the crowd, the music .. all together just WoW !!!! The ironic part is that, I do not even understand Chinese but I am so crazy about a Taiwanese rock band !!! As I told S, she has made me into a Mayday-monster. My friends all think I must be the biggest Mayday fan in the world to travel all around the world to watch them. Also at every concert, they sing generally the same songs.. BUT … each concert is the same BUT YET different. I just cannot explain it but the joy I feel at the concert is just unexplainable. Even now as I watch their music videos, I cannot help but smile but yet I feel sad because I am not able to watch them live. I have never felt such an affinity to any other musical artist or group before.

It is very disappointing that just one month after the Mayday concert in Singapore, I watched Jay Chou and wow … talk about such a big difference. The Jay Chou concert was boring, drab and so bad that I left halfway.

Anyways, with the festive season coming up, let me take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. May 2017 bring you all good health and continued blessings !!!


Cheers !!! (which is coincidentally the title of one of my fav Mayday songs)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Magical nonetheless - Review of Les Miserables - Singapore 2016

Greetings all. Sorry I have been away for like almost a year and my last review on anything was April 2015. I haven’t had the time to watch much and what I watched wasn’t worth writing about.

Anyways, welcome to my latest review. Les Miserables 2016 in Singapore.



In late 2013, I watched Chestnuts 6.9 and Jonathan Lim did several skits playfully mocking Les Mis – the movie version and then the spark in me was lit. I got very caught up with the songs from Les Mis. I bought the DVD of the special 10th Anniversary Concert and the Blu-ray of the 25th Anniversary Concert and watched them at least 30 times each. In 2014, I finally caught it live in London and I have been wishing to catch it live again. So when it was announced the Les Mis was returning to Singapore... my wish came true... I planned to watch this every week. (yup that is how much I love Les Mis!!!)

The problem I had was that I had watched the special anniversary concerts many times and so I knew the perfection of Colm Wilkinson, Alfie Boe, Philip Quast (best Javert ever!!), Lea Salonga, Ruthie Henshall, Michael Ball, Alun Armstrong (best Thenardier!!) and the ever lovable Jenny Galloway as Madame Thenadier. I had also heard the original UK cast on CD, MP3 and LP countless of times. How was this latest show gonna match up?

Unfortunately, it does not. To give you some sort of imagery, imagine savouring a Grade A5 Wagyu beef tenderloin and then expecting a Black Angus beef steak to be the same. Sorry, eventhough Black Angus beef is good, but A5 Wagyu beef is just way up there. 

I feel that all the cast were lacking that extra something in their voices to make the hairs on your arms stand or stir your soul. Thats the difference between being good and being legendary. In my opinion, the best of this cast was Eponine, who was played by Kerrie Anne Greenland. She stood out amongst the cast with her strong voice, great expression and strong stage presence. Another who left an impression was Gavroche (Kieran McGinlay). All the other cast members were just fine. Jean Valjean had very strong stage presence but his singing was frequently not in tune with the orchestra. Javert also had good presence but the voice was just ok and his rendition of “Stars” left me unsatisfied. Fantine and Cosette had good range in their singing but their voices were very ‘shrill’ with no ‘oomph.’

Another thing which disappointed me was that all the songs were kind rushed through. This made it seem like the cast members sang in a less sustained way and more curt.

The stage, set and lighting was great. The very clever and innovative use of constantly moving images on the backdrop together with the detailed props and stage settings gave a lot of realism to the show.

Ultimately, I DID enjoy myself at this show. I just had to curb my expectations. Compared to the Les Mis movie, this 2016 production is excellent. For people who have never watched or listened to Les Mis before, or have only watched the movie, please go get your tickets and watch it. The last time Les Mis came to Singapore was more than 22 years ago.

Watever it is, I will be telling my friends to go catch this as watching Les Mis live, several meters from the stage, will always be magical. For those who have heard or seen the best, kindly leave all your expectations at the door and just enjoy Les Mis...  now to watch a Les Miserables anniversary concert in London one day !! Until then, should I watch this again next week?? hmmm

Take it easy guyz and have a great week !! ;)




Friday, August 28, 2015

Coming Soon : The Effect by Lucy Prebble ... presented by Couch Theatre ... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED




Couch Theatre emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to do a preview and review post for their upcoming production and I immediately replied YES OF COS I WOULD !!

The last production from Couch Theatre I caught was the Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl and they did a marvelous job. As some of you may know, I have been rather dismayed by some of the local productions which I caught over the past 18 months. It has been so bad that I did not even bother to write a review for them. However, deep inside me, I know Couch Theatre will not disappoint.

I watch Melancholy Play about 2 years ago and the production blew me away. The actors were superb was the direction was nothing short of excellent. You can see my review of Melancholy Play here (http://singaporedramamama.blogspot.sg/2013/07/the-beauty-of-melancholy-my-review-of.html).

Couch Theatre is again taking on a very bold and ambitious project in The Effect. As I have never seen this before, all the information I have about was given to me via Couch Theatre and from the SISTIC sypnosis. The setting of the play is in the context of a drug trial where two people meet and fall in love. However, questions are raised as whether is this 'true love' or a side-effect of the drugs. Couch Theatre wants the audience to ponder and reflect as to who and what we are? Just physical body-parts put together? What are memories? Where do they come from? What are feelings and emotions? How are they developed and shaped?



WoW very deep stuff !!! I enjoy watching such plays because it really makes you think. This is more than just 2 hours of ha-ha-ha / singing  but it makes you wonder .. makes you experience the raw emotions which makes us human. You leave the venue feeling like some lightbulb is coming to life in your head and you go like "Ohhhhhhh..."

Based on the SISTIC website, this is a 2.5 hours play and will be at the Drama Centre Black Box. Knowing Couch Theatre and the venue, the main focus will be on the acting and not elaborate sets or loud distracting music. It is a cosy venue where the acting will need to be at its best as the audience is just sitting barely 2 metres from the set. Every facial expression, every intonation in the lines and every slight body movement will be seen up front. If anyone can pull this off well, I am very sure Couch Theatre can.

In my previous previews I hardly recommend a production as strongly as I am recommending this one. For all of you who want something different from the rah rah which our local production houses have been churning out (sadly disappointing), go catch The Effect. It is priced very reasonably and there are only 8 shows and not to mention limited seats due to the venue. Go get your tickets now at http://sistic.com.sg/events/lucy0915.

In the meantime .. think about this .. "How are you feeling now and Why?"





Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Coming Soon ....A play titled ' 8 - 5 ' ... a fundraiser for the Woodbridge Hospital Charity Fund

8 – 5’ … 2 numbers, separated by a dash.

8 – 5’ …  visions of a white round clock .. up on the wall … ticking continuously … never stopping. That is our life … never stopping .. so much of a routine.

8 – 5’ … the hours we spend at work .. some people call it the lifeless hours .. trudging through our jobs …

8 – 5’ … full of energy at 8 … drained of energy at 5 … our natural aging process


So what does ‘8 – 5’ mean to you ? …


---------------

.. all net ticket sales proceeds will go to the Woodbridge Hospital Charity Fund. The cast, crew, production team are all staff, volunteers, and patients from the Institute of Mental Health. You can get your tickets at www.imh.com.sg/eshop or you can contact Ms Ng Sijia at si_jia_ng@imh.com.sgThere is only a limited run of 4 shows over 1 weekend (29th & 30th August 2015) so try to catch it if you can. Click poster for more information.

I will post more information on this place over the next few weeks. Trying to get a chance to interview the cast and director as well as get a sneek peek ... Stay Tuned !!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

.. Watching soon ... W!ld Rice's Public Enemy !!



I just bought tickets for W!ld Rice’s Public Enemy 22/4/15, 8pm show. This is showing from 9th April to 25th April at the Victoria Theatre.

Big name stars .. Kay Siu and Ivan HengDependable director ... Glenn GoeiBig name production company … W!ld Rice … should be good right? I really hope so .. ! The supporting cast looks pretty good too !!

Sorry I am not doing a detailed preview of this. Have been busy so didn't have time to do so. Surely I will do a review of it !!! Stay tuned !!

Have a Great Day folks !!!

If any of the W!ld Rice guys want to meet up after the Ishow to chat, drop me a line. Will be glad to give you my honest opinion.