Friday, December 16, 2011

Event : Crazy Christmas 2011 (R18)

Venue : Esplanade Theatre (ed : along the N-S line)

Date : 15/12/11 .. (ed : the day the N-S line stood still)  8pm

This was the 2nd Crazy Christmas that I have attended the last being Crazy Christmas 2010. I really enjoyed myself then and when tickets were made available for this years edition, I scrambled to get my tickets.
Why I enjoyed Crazy Christmas 2010 was the joyful singing by all the cast, the great music provided by the band and Kumar. This year was the same .. good singing, great band Kumar.

There has been quite a bit of coverage on this event lately due to the withdrawal and subsequent demise of Mr RJ Rosales and the very recent withdrawal of Ms Emma Yong for health reasons (get well soon :ed). Somehow, the mood would be a bit more sombre due to these and this could be felt at certain points of the performance.

I was there really and seated by 7.20pm and looked at the audience as they came streaming in. The audience demographics were pretty different from that at the SSO Xmas concert a couple of days ago. There were a large number of office colleagues who bought entire rows of tickets, a large number of Hokkien speaking middle-aged ladies and no children. YES no kids as this show is rated R(A)18 !!! The show started promptly at 8pm with Selena, Denise and Pam in their beautiful dresses. The first number was a swing piece with three main men of Sebastian Tan, George Chan and Robin Goh. This was meant to set the mood for the rest of the evening. The solo rendition of “Have yourself a Merry little Xmas” by George was quite good except that the stage lights could have shone more of his whole face rather than just illuminating just his chin and lips. This was followed by a quasi-group (3 guys) medley of Fireworks, Toxic and Born this Way. I personally felt that this was a bit flat as it needed a bit more oomph. Also the arrangement of the songs made it a tad difficult to identify the songs until the chorus.

Kumar then did his stand-up routine. And as usual .. it was brilliant. All fresh jokes and nothing recycled. TOTALLY R(A) !! YEAH !!! The audience were very appreciative of his jokes and were rolling around in laughter. I could hear the aunties behind me laughing loudly when he went on about sex tests and his “fish head.” (who says Singaporeans are prudes and have no sense of humour???) (Don’t forget to see Kumar’s Amazing Race Re-run next year .. I saw it already and it was brilliant!!!)

Selena then did a very upbeat .. (“UP”) .. very happy .. and very jiggly song about finding love in the strangest of places ... Pity she had a bit of an issue with her over-the-ear- mic which resulted in her ending the song with her right hand against the side of her head. Good job Selena!! RING THEM BELLS !!!!

Vocaluptous then did what they are so good at. They did jazzy renditions of two very well-known Christmas carols. I liked the “I’ll be home for Christmas” more because it really allowed the audience to hear the blending of each member’s unique voices. Brilliant.

Bat-girl (ala Pam) then made an appearance again. Again, this was a bit of a dip just after Vocaluptous. The back story was very funny but in my personal opinion a bit irrelevant. (Housing Designated for Bats was SUPER FUNNY though) The bit of the Playboy Bunny was kinda shoe-horned in and could be better told. Again there was a lot of energy on stage with the cast dancing and jumping (no pun intended .. heck YES pun intended) around on stage.

This was followed by Sebastian-time !! The ovation he got shows how much the crowd loved him. I think he should do more Broadway Beng shows. Almost 85% of his part was in Hokkien but everyone was laughing away with his un-restrained used of flowery Hokkien words. One aunty behind me was going .. “Aiyo .. this guy ah .. so vulgar ..” but yet she was laughing and laughing.. His singing was again a class above and excellent.

Towards the end, the cast did a sublime and very good acapella version of 12 days of Christmas culminating in the LMFAO mega-hit Party Rock Anthem... complete with dance moves !!!

The evening closed with two very special songs. The first was about friendship and dedicated to Ms Emma Yong.

The second song to me was the highlight of the night. This was a song dedicated to the recently departed Mr RJ Rosales. The entire crew stood in a line and sag a beautiful Pilipino song which he shared with them last year. Each of them sung a portion of the song and I could feel their emotions so strongly as they sang. This is what Christmas is about. Remembering and honouring those loved ones who have passed on. If RJ were looking down on them, he would have been so happy and proud. The cast could have only learnt this in the past 1 week and yet they did it so well. RJ’s spirit must have been there too.

Overall, RJ’s passing and Emma’s health will definitely have an impact on the cast. Denise did a good job filling in Emma’s shoes. But yet, I feel that they were a bit more sullen and withdrawn this year compared to the exuberance of Crazy Christmas 2010. The dance routines seemed to be a bit more strained and stiff.

You guys did really good ... and hope to see you again next year ..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

..Xmas is indeed here again ...

Title : SSO Christmas Concert 2011
Date : 13th December 2011 (7.30pm)
Venue : Esplanade Concert Hall
This was going to be my first SSO Xmas Concert. I bought the tickets via SSO really early as I had missed it for the past 2 years running (no more tickets). Even at such an early date, I didn’t manage to get my normal prime seats but on the 2nd tier at the back. Well .. it was an orchestral performance anyways so nothing much to see. So the event started at 7.30pm and was there at 7pm after running from RP to the Esplanade.
They started out brightly with White Christmas (orchestra only). It set the mood for the evening. Light and flurry .. but yet very heart warming. I felt the hairs on my arms stand in anticipation of what was in store for me the rest of the evening. The narrator did a good job in his opening intro and I totally agree with him that it doesn’t feel like xmas until the “arts start the xmas programme.” For me the highlight of the first half of the concert was the 4 Dances from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Silent Night. The 4 dances were well done full of feelings and yet very precise. Silent Night was and still is a traditional hymm / carol MOST synonymous with Christmas. It was the first “sing-along” carol and I think the audience needed to get warmed up. It didn’t help that most people only know the first verse (me included). Yes the other verses were printed in the programme book but the lights WERE off in the hall. I felt the Carol of the Bells was quite well done with bars of other carols inserted in. It sounded like a mess but it all came together very well in the end if you listen to all the parts wholly rather than lets say just focussing on the woodwind section.

The second half started again brightly with an all-time favourite Sleigh Ride. This was followed by the Waltz of the Flowers again from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. The harpist was almost perfect in her introduction. Standing ovation to her !!! Every note was plucked at the perfect pitch, volume and timing. Perfect !! Of course the rest of the orchestra also held their own and were very good.
From a long time ago, “O Holy Night” has always been my all time favourite Xmas carol. It is a Carol which is regularly not done properly because I feel that it requires quite a wide range to hit the high notes and also good control to mainly a steady voice over the “fall on your knees bit” which is sustained pretty long. I have to say that the choir were barely heard during this rendition. (Actually the choir was barely heard throughout all the vocal pieces.. this may be due to my FAR seat..mind you I was still on the first floor) I think also the audience were all warmed up already and they belted this out heart-and-soul. It may have not been the most accurate or technically-correct sung version of O Holy Night I have ever heard but singing it out together with so many other voices in the audience & choir while being supported by the SSO is one of the most magical feelings and totally sums up the spirit of togetherness over Xmas.
The fun song of the 2nd half was Rudolph. The orchestra did an excellent jazzy-bigband-classical version of this fun carol. I could see the audience jiving to the music and the attending children were very thrilled by it as well .. especially the “neighing” at the end.
Mr Lim Yau and his orchestra, kindly did an encore of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to our delight !!
Overall, it was a very good concert with superb conducting of a deservedly well-decorated orchestra. All pieces performed were full of emotion and really captured the essence of Xmas.
A special mention to the narrator, Mr William Ledbetter, who kept the entire concert lively with his candid comments.
Again I stress that it may be because of my seat (Row CC), I was unable to hear the choir clearly. At times it was difficult to hear the actual words that was being sung and the blending of the various vocal parts was not as harmonious as that of the orchestra. Also it would have been more pleasant if the ladies in the choir were dressed in “generally similar” colors. There were a few members in green, some in red, one in beige etc. This kind of diminished the visual impact of the choir.
This is an event which I will definitely attend again in 2012 and be a part of my yearly calendar. This time I will make sure I book my tickets EVEN earlier.
.... its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas ... thank you SSO ....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Busy week !!

Its gonna be a busy week ... SSO Xmas concert tonite, Crazy Christmas 2011 on Thursday and Kings Choir on Saturday. Phew ... catching up before the end of the year. Stay tuned to reviews !!! SO EXCITING !!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chestnuts for CNY ..

Woo Hoo .. finally booked my tix for Chestnuts 15 .. first day !!! hehehe .. hurry hurry .. looking at my seats allocation it seems to be goin really quick. Will be good to get my fix just before CNY !! YIPPPEEE !!!! (ed: Ms EuNice .. faster fo get your tix !!!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rest in Peace RJ ...

.. Condolences to the family of the late RJ Rosales who is now singing in Heaven for God ...  RIP ..

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Sky No Reply" ... my take on Aladdin 2011

Title : Aladdin (W!LD RICE productions)
Directed by Glenn Goei  & Written by Jonathan Lim
Venue : Drama Centre Theatre (National Library)
Date : 4th December 2012 : 7.30pm show

This was the 3rd Wild Rice pantomime which I have seen with Cinderel-lah in 2010 and Beauty & the Beast in 2009. It has become quite a tradition for me experience these annual pantomimes (ed : Wonder if 3 years is considered a tradition??).
The sets were big and realistic but smaller compared to Cinderel-lah. This may be due to the stage at the Drama Centre being smaller than the Esplanade Theatre.  The good use of projections against the backdrop also provided a good atmospheric experience though it was a bit hard to see at times when the stage lights were too bright.

The W!LD KIDS were a joy to behold all decked out in their costumes. You could see their innocence as they try to recall their dance-steps and keep to the beat of the music. They made the show livelier with their energy and enthusiasm. Extra applause for them !!!
JOKES JOKES JOKES !! When I first saw that this was written by Jonathan Lim (of Chestnuts fame) .. I knew it was going to be a barrel of laughs. And it surely delivered. Not just barrels but kegs and vats of it !!!  I have been a regular @ Chestnuts shows and after a while, you will be bowed over by Jonathan. His best jokes are his subtle one-liners. The ones that make you go .. huh? ... brain clicking ... put it all together ... MUA HA HA HA !!! It was the same @ Aladdin. The jokes came thick and fast .. one after another .. nothing cheap or slapstick .. good ole puns and wordplay. My fav has gotta be the “butter factory” one.

Having jokes written by Jonathan is one thing ... making it funny is the other. Darius Tan got his timing perfect. The others were helped on by the typical 3-tone high-hat crash to indicate ..”PLEASE LAUGH NOW..” Even the usually reliable Karen Tan had 1-2 “non-laughters.”

The king of “mish-mash-songs” inserted loads of local elements in the lyrics of current music. However, the background instruments tended to drown out the voices so it was rather hard to catch the words. This was an issue throughout all the songs as the audience seem to have difficulties catching the lyrics of the songs. Or maybe it is just my hearing got problem. Heh? The underlying-through-the-show ABBA song/lyrics lines was a nice touch ... only if you know ABBA. (ed: who doesn't know ABBA deserve to get shot)
Jokes coming hard and fast may not always be a good thing. With so many jokes peppered throughout, there a loss of focus of the jokes. The question is .. are these pantomimes meant for the children? Or adults? The adult jokes were lost on the children .. but judging from the oft-times bored looks from the audience seated around me (front row), it looked as though they were bringing their kids to a animated movie and they were just there to sit through it. There were some comments made online about it being rather shallow with no depth and not much back-story ... wat I think is .. back story? You think you watching a drama serial ??? Good job as it is tough to tell a song & dance story within 2 hours.

A good choice of songs especially “Born this Way,” “Rehab” & “I Want to Break Free” to set the tone. Kudos to the music team as well. You can't help but sing along. My fav song & dance routine must have been “Ai” by Darius Tan .. both the original & -angmoh versions !!
It is hard for me not to compare this year’s leads to the previous productions. For the male lead, we have Hady Mirza in Aladdin, Sebastian Tan in Cinderel-lah and the late RJ Rosales in Beauty & the Beast. I must honestly say that Hady seemed a bit subdued when compared to Sebastian and RJ. Sebastian and RJ had a lot more poise and stage presence. This may definitely come from a lot more experience in stage acting and professional singing. Hadi shows great promise and at times during the show seemed to carry himself well. At other times he seemed to be lacking that self-confidence and was a bit tentative. This should all be fine once he has more acting experience. Another plus point is he has a better physique than Sebastian !!! (ed : Sebastian Tan, Chua Enlai, & gang were spotted in the audience) I could see the ladies oogling at him when he was in his white shirt / shorts and when he was dressed in his Arabian nights costume. Even Karen Tan commented about his physique ON-STAGE. Keep going at it Hadi .. you can only get better. (ed : As though he is gonna read this)

As for the female lead role .. it is rather unfair to put Sylvia up against Emma Yong (from both Cinderel-lah & Beauty & the Beast + original Dim Sum dolly). Sylvia’s rendition of “Breakaway” was beautiful and full of emotion. However if she could have looked at the audience once in a while during that song and not just focus on the ceiling, it would have been perfect. To me, that was the most heartfelt moment of the entire show. Again, you can definitely see the potential in her as she was more confident in her acting and more relaxed.  
The supporting cast was pretty strong in Aladdin. Jo Tan did a good impersonation of a typical Nonya Grandma .. and Andrew played his role well as the “mummy’s boy” Baba .. complete with Safari jacket !! Karen Tan played the evil wizard role in her typical cynical and sharp-tongued way which we have all come to love. (Karen mocking Chua Enlai in the audience took the cake for me) Though she looked tired and physically drained at the end of the show. I feel that a bit more could have been developed from the genies other than just a few short scenes. To me Darius Tan stole the show with his role as Aladdin’s mother. (If I were an Ah Pek 20 yrs older .. I may actually date his character) He was full of emotions and just plain hilarious. AGAIN .. his “AI” was just so funny.

Overall, another year, another pantomime which we have come to love. Full of colors, full of song and dance .. full of kids running around in glee (both on & off stage) and a whole load of laughs. Again .. each of these pantomimes cannot be compared against each other .. they both have their own charms, their unique characters, styles and highlights. One thing in common in all of them is they will definitely be able to take you away to a whimsical land for two hours filled with laughter and joy. Go watch it .. not many shows left and from what I heard not many tix left too .. Keep it up W!LD RICE ...until next year “I ask sky .. I ask sky ...”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why am I doing this ?

I have been wanting to blog about my theatre and music visit for a long time. However due to a hectic work schedule .. I never found the time to do it. Now at my new job, I have a bit more spare time so can finally start it out.

After some prodding by my buddy, Mr TTan, I decided to finally get it started. As mentioned in my disclaimer, this blog is solely for informational purposes. It is just to tell my friends (and whoever accidentally stumbles upon this..) my take on the current Arts scene in Singapore. Hopefully it will give them more idea about plays / concerts / performances which I went for and my 50 cents worth (aren’t all blogs basically someone’s 50 cents worth??)Also I will be the first person to say that I am not like the foremost expert in play-acting etc but I can give my own honest opinion of what I see, hear, smell and experience. At the end of the day .. theatre and the arts is very much a personal interaction … Enjoy folks…

Disclamer and all that jazz .. Most Important

Firstly, I want to clearly state that this blog is wholly based on my own opinions and not of anyone else.  All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. I will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. I will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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