Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review of W!ld Rice's Hansel & Gretel 2012


Hansel & Gretel
What happens when you mix 6 great actors, a bunch of talented kids, the literary wit of Alfian Sa’at, the directorial talents of Pam Oei, a heaped spoonful of wonderful music, a full-cup of lovely food …. stir … garnish with 69g of basil ?????? .. you get W!ld Rice’s 2012 : Hansel & Gretel.

As mentioned in my preview several weeks ago, Hansel & Gretel is W!ld Rice’s 9th annual pantomime. I caught it on Sunday evening and I really had a good time (and some lovely, yummy goodies too). It was a sold-out show that evening at the National Library Drama Centre .. full of excited kids with their parents / grandparents.

To start off, the script / lines / lyrics were expertly written with much hidden meaning (some were obviously OBVIOUS… LoL) .. every scene, every song had some message interwoven in it that only the adults would understand. Even the selection of “Queenstown” as a location meant more than just being a town-with-a-queen. The musical number at the end of Act 1 was arranged from a former National Day song. All these little titbits just make you go .. “Ahhhh… yah hor …” The best part of it all was they were all very subtle without any detraction from the storyline making the writing so much more wicked. If you understood the jokes .. great … if you don’t .. it doesn’t matter …

The cast was good. Vernetta was funny with her strange accents and “rubber-faced” expressions, Dwayne Lau is the usual super dependable .. playing out his role full of enthusiasm. I very much like the beard/sideburn combo (REAL!!!) which makes his role of the children’s dad a lot more believable. Denise and Dwayne Tan played their roles well as both Gretel and Hansel. You could just feel the little spark between the two of them as brother and sister. There was also a very good blending of their voices during their duets. The only minor gripe was that Denise is a natural and showed a very relaxed poise throughout the show while Dwayne (Tan) tended to get a bit stiff during some of his scenes. He seemed a bit less relaxed when next to Denise. I am not sure but this may be artistic direction.

Sebastian Tan yet again showed why he is one of the top local Divas. When he sang, it was totally different. The depth of his singing and his tonal range … and all in long dresses and high heels. It is remarkable how he can be running around .. dancing around … swirling … in high heels and pantyhose .. while singing !!!! Sebastian .. YOU THE MAN !!!

If Sebastian is the Singapore’s top Diva .. then Siti Khalijah is definitely Singapore’s queen of Comedy. She was excellent in her role as the maid and as the assistant .. before and after the “makeover.” Her delivery of lines were perfect with the right amount of attitude. She definitely had us all rolling in laughter. She raps pretty well too … siol !

The “seventh” cast member was the lovely First Stage! Kids. In Hansel & Gretel, they did a lot more than just dance around in their costumes. They had some acting to do and lots of singing. Their exuberance and joy could be felt as they danced, sang and acted throughout the show.

I suggest that if you go watch the show … also buy the CD. Why? There is a lot of action happening on stage ... it will be hard to catch the lyrics of the songs while focusing on the action and all the audience noises (children laughing and screaming … adults clapping …). It is for a good cause as well.

Overall, I could not think of a better way to spend a lovely Sunday evening or any other evening for that matter. As with each and every W!ld Rice pantomime, it is a wonderful way to start the Xmas season (albeit this year is a bit more like going for a Malay wedding).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Next Change : Hansel & Gretel by W!ld Rice


I remember a couple of months ago .. when I did my preview for the Hossan Leong Show (version 2012), I was reminiscing about how the 4th quarter of 2012 is coming and we are heading towards the tail-end of 2012. Whoosh … time has passed and we are entering the penultimate month of 2012. Schools will break for the year-end holidays in two to three weeks time … the rush of parents spending quality holiday time with their kids … the mad rush to buy Christmas presents for loved ones … the crawling traffic along Orchard Road as people slow down to enjoy the decorations and the lights … Christmas Carols being played everywhere … but most importantly … it is time for another W!ld Rice Christmas Pantomime… Hansel & Gretel. This is the 9th edition of the W!ld Rice Pantomime and I think it is the first time that it is going to be based on this popular German fairy-tale(by the Brothers Grimm).
I think I must be very privileged to catch the last three pantomimes (starting from Beauty & the Beast in 2009, Cinderel-lah in 2010 and Aladdin in 2011) and have always walked out of the auditorium full of Christmas-ey spirit and joy. These pantomimes are made for audiences of all ages. The children will be loving all the bright costumes, special effects, big colourful sets, catchy music as well as the young kids all dancing on stage. The adults will love the great acting and singing ..(Sebastian Tan this year .. WOO HOO!!!!) .. the overall feel-good ending as good triumphs over evil, the jokes (the adult ones if you can catch them) .. and just a bloody good way to spend your evening with the kids.

I am very excited in anticipation of Hansel and Gretel because I think two of Singapore’s funniest actors will be in it, namely Sebastian Tan and Siti Khalijah. If you guys have seen them on stage, you will know they will have you in stitches .. RoLF-ing. I have yet to see them together but I can just imagine the riot they are going to cause on-stage. They are very, very good singers and actors too. Sebastian is going drag (you should see his legs in the promo photos .. talk about a teaser!!!) and playing the role of “the Witch / the Chef” and Siti is his / her maid. (.. just the premise of that is giving me the chuckles). Hansel and Gretel will be played by Dwayne Tan and Denise Tan respectively. Dawne Lau and Vernetta Lopez will play their parents. A very accomplished all-star line-up indeed. The lines were written by the renown Alfian Sa’at and will be directed by one of the stalwarts of the Singapore Arts, Pam Oei.

A W!ld Rice pantomime is never complete without  the young kids dancing on-stage in their identical costumes, singing along and just having a whole lot of fun. This year, the First Stage! Kids will be performing at Hansel and Gretel. These children are actually trained performers under the W!ld Rice umbrella and are from the ages of 5-16 years.

For those who have never been to a W!ld Rice Pantomime before, this will be an excellent opportunity to catch one for the first time. But be warned … something so sweet tends to be extremely addictive … I am already an addict … stay tuned for my review !!!
 
Hansel and Gretel will be showing at the Drama Centre Theatre (National Library) from the 22nd November 2012 to 15th December 2012. Tickets are very reasonably priced and more details can be found at Sistic website. GET THEM NOW !!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coming Soon : Company by Dream World Productions


Akan Datang : “Company” by Dream World Productions

Cover Photo

‘There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage.’

 
This production that I am previewing today is Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’. The tag line of ‘Company’ is a “Musical Comedy about Being S!ngle.”  ‘Company’ is a multiple Tony awards winner and has won a Grammy for Best Score in 1970.
From what I understand, ‘Company’ revolves around Robert at his surprise 35th birthday party. At that party are 5 married couples … all trying to convince him to get married to one of his 3 girlfriends. <Maybe members from the Social Development Network (SDN … formerly known as SDU) can watch this to learn new ideas as to how to boost marriages in Singapore.> Just from the above premise you can imagine how this play is going to turn out and the potential it brings. As it is a musical I assume that all the “convincing” will be done in song and dance routines. This is one play which I can already imagine in my mind and cannot wait to see it in real life.

The cast for the local adaptation of “Company” feature a mix of the local stalwarts of the Singapore Arts such as Tan Kheng Hua, Karen Tan, Brendon Fernandez, Petrina Kow and Candice de Rozario with the really talented young up-coming stars of Rebecca Spykerman, Hui Xuan, Mina Kaye and Glory Ngim. However, the lead role will be played by someone who is relatively unknown (at least in Singapore) .. Peter Ong. He is from across the causeway and has already taken the Malaysian Arts scene by storm with his almost 10 year experience singing and acting in many, many musicals and operas. This is not his first time showcasing his fine skills in Singapore but it will be the first time I am seeing him perform live after hearing of his many accolades. The last I saw a star from Malaysia perform here was recently at La Cage Aux Folles featuring Tony Eusoff who was superb and whose singing brought tears to my eyes.

‘Company’ is going to be directed by Singapore Arts Scene’s own Energizer bunny .. Hossan Leong. Fresh from his Hossan Leong Show .. and straight into directing ‘Company’ … can someone make him take a break !!! Before that he was also in La Cage. If the directing going to be anything like himself, get ready for a whole load of laughter… tongue-in-cheek jokes … and generally a hi-octane ride.

Anywayz … preview night of ‘Company’ is on the 1/11/2012 and it will run until the 11/11/2012. In total there are going to be only 14 shows. As usual, there will be two shows on each Saturday and Sunday and an evening show from Tuesday to Friday. Monday is rest day. There has been quite a bit of a buzz with some really unique publicity events … 3 pretty ladies .. only in towel-esque clothes .. walking around .. taking the bus .. interviewing random people … singing in the MRT .. (damn it .. wish I was there…) .. so visit their FaceBook page to see the photos .. and tickets and other details are available here …..

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review : Nervous Sharks on Preview Night ...


Cover Photo
 
Review : Swimming with Sharks by Pangdemonium Productions          
Venue : Drama Centre Theatre
Date : 20 September 2012 @ 8pm (preview night)

As I was walking from my chicken rice dinner (@ Seah Street) to the National Library, I was wondering what to expect from Swimming with Sharks (SwS). It was one of those things where I knew close-to-nothing about .. I didn’t watch the Kevin Spacey movie .. neither did I read up about it on Wiki. All I knew was Adrian Pang, Janice Koh and George Young were in it and directed by Tracie Pang. Also I knew it had something to do with horrible bosses and backstabbing in the world of Hollywood.

As I approached the Front of House (FoH), I was reminded that this was the preview night and to remember that this is their first-est night .. the night before opening night … and not be too critical. It was a pretty full-out crowd .. mainly in the mid 20s to late 30s.

The set was fairly elaborate and detailed .. two levels … reception area and a office/lounge area. The opening sequence on the screen set the tone for the night and was a good light-hearted ice-breaker.

The story is very good and brilliant. As I promised not to provide any storyline spoilers .. I will not talk about it but focus on the overall acting on SwS. Adrian Pang was clearly AHEAD of anybody else on that stage. His acting was sharp and delivery of lines was precise. Janice in her role as Dawn Lockhart was fairly good with lots of emotion in her acting. I could feel her pain and sadness through her voice and body language during parts of the show. I think Janice is a very pretty lady and she suited that role as the “seductress.”

The third main actor was George Young. George could be considered the leading actor in this play as he appeared in almost all scenes from the start to the end. This also meant that he would be up acting with Adrian and Janice most of the time. I felt that George was overshadowed by Adrian and Janice. His acting was very much single-dimension without much depth. He delivered his lines fairly well (though there were a couple of miscues in words) and his emotions only showed on his face and the volume of his voice. He was either happy or sad. Nothing much in between. When he was angry .. he looked sad .. when he was drunk .. he looked happy .. when he was sad .. he looked sad .. I think you get the idea. Even during the “happy” scenes with Janice … he seemed like he was just amused. He seemed better after the interval.  I also felt that it was very strange and unnatural for him to like “bend down” every time he was talking to Janice. I know there is a height difference but you can always maintain eye contact though not at the same level.

The supporting actors / actress were fine though nothing outstanding and their parts were also very small to comment upon.

The set design was nice and looked the part with expensive sofas and furniture. However, the gripe I had was that the video screens at the top half couldn’t be seen clearly from the sides of the theatre. The bottom half of the screens were cut off due to the staircase and the floor of the second level. I do admit that the videos shown were only a tiny part of the play (more for dramatic effect and to cleverly insert a short internal to allow for costume changes). There were certain portions where I could not hear the actors as well. This was especially so when the actors were “upstairs.” When they were downstairs, front and centre I could hear them very clearly. The faces of the actors were also partially blocked when they were upstairs around the table.

Overall, I feel that SwS has a very good storyline full of twists and witty lines thrown in. I especially like the transition in George's character as the story progressed. The direction and choreography of the play was also very well done by having "several layers" of scenes within one (ie. something happening in the background while we are focussed on the foreground)  However, based on what I saw, it could have been slightly better. The acting could be a tad tighter and controlled. I cannot help but compare SwS with Spring Awakenings (also produced by Pangdemonium : earlier 2012). In Spring Awakenings I could feel the story as it grabbed me by the shoulders, slapped me around and spat at me while I was left crying. The acting was powerful and the story came alive and I left feeling in awe. As for SwS, the 3 lead roles were extremely important as they represented almost 90% of the play. It was crucial that these three roles were played strongly .. I left feeling like something was missing .. I left feeling that so much more could be done to make the show more complete and something to remember .. I assume it was down to the jitters and the nerves of “preview night” ….

All things considered, I still think that SwS is worth catching and is an excellent way of spending your evening (there is a chance of winning Club Med trips too). It is a very well scripted play with good acting and an excellent storyline. It is definitely something different .. but hey .. Pangdemonium does different very well...

…. Several friends caught SwS on Sunday 23/9/2012 and they felt that it was better but also the sound and set issues still remained … I may go watch it again sometime this week .. *BanG!!!!*

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Akan Datang !! "Swimming with Sharks" by Pangdemonium Productions!

Pangdemonium Productions! has been quiet this year with only “Spring Awakening” in February. Their second major production for the year is “Swimming with Sharks” which is going to be staged at the Drama Centre Theatre from 20 Sept – 7 Oct 2012.

In a nutshell, “Swimming with Shark”s is set in Hollywood and promises to portray the seedy, back stabbing and fake world of show business. Not between actors & actresses but between the producer, screenwriter and film maker to be exact. The three main roles will be played by Adrian Pang, Janice Koh and George Young. We all know how talented Adrian Pang is on stage with his unique and strong acting ability and is (in my personal opinion) one of the best ‘English-speaker’ in our local arts scene in relation to his delivery of his lines. I have yet to see Janice and George in a theatre setting but if they are good enough for Pangdemonium .. they must be pretty good !!!
Chk out those teeth .. hahaha..

Pangdemonium Productions! have always ‘dared’ to do the difficult productions and I thank them for bringing these shows to our shores so that we can have something different but yet sprinkled with some local flavour. This is thanks to Tracie Pang who is the producer of “Swimming with Sharks“ as well as the producer of “Spring Awakening” and “Dealer’s Choice”.

I cannot wait to catch this next week and I am pretty confident that my review of “Swimming with Sharks” will be good. This show has been highly publicized across all forms of media and was just highlighted in this morning’s ‘AM show’ and on 93.8FM earlier today. 

I wonder .. was there any back stabbing between the actors during the filming and did Adrian get all power-crazy in real life? We shall never know …
 
Get your tickets here ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Singapore's King of Comedy !! Hossan Leong Show 2012 !

"You want a bite?????"

As we wind down to the 4th quarter of the year (and end of 7th Lunar Month too), we start to get that little tingle of that festive feeling in our stomachs. This is my favourite quarter of the year .. school kids start their exams and then their holidays … lots of us working adults clearing annual leave … time for promotion and increments letters …  expensive holidays during the peak periods … End-of-year Sales … Christmas & New Year .. and most importantly .. The Hossan Leong Show !!!

Yes !! Dream Academy is bringing on “the Hossan Leong Show..” version 2012 !!! From what I have read and found out .. this year’s show is going to be bigger, better, funnier (possible meh?) and yet different from previous shows. The theme for this year is … “HOLIDAY!!!”

.. A Steinway on the beach .. woo hooo....
Singapore’s own King of Comedy will be doing what he does best … singing (really well) and making people laugh (extremely well). For you guys who have seen him at his solo shows you will know what to expect … if you have never been to a “Hossan Leong Show” before .. go and experience it this year … and I am pretty sure it will be an annual event for you as it is for me !!!

So guys .. come all .. young and old … alone and in groups .. and have a roaring good start to the “fun quarter” of the year … best of all .. you may even win an early Xmas pressie .. A PAIR OF AIR TICKETS TO GOLD COAST !!!! PER SHOW !!!! GooD LucK guys !!!! Hope to see you guys !!!!

Venue : Drama Centre Theatre
Dates : 30/8/2012 – 16/9/2012
Timing : Tues – Fri : 8pm, Sat : 4pm & 8pm, Sun : 2pm & 6pm
Ticketing details : http://www.sistic.com.sg/

Monday, July 30, 2012

'Open your eyes' and welcome to La Cage ...



Title : La Cage aux Folles
By : Wild Rice Productions
Venue : Esplanade Theatre, Singapore
Date : Sunday, 29th July 2012
Time : 3pm
 

I have been waiting for La Cage for weeks. I booked my dates on the first day that the tickets were released to the public. It was going to be Wild Rice’s “headline” production for 2012 and Ivan Heng was in it. Not just directing or producing but having a lead role in it. The last I saw Ivan acting was in “Emily on Emerald Hill” and that was more than a year ago. In the days since ‘opening night,’ reviews have been coming hard and fast. All reviewers had nothing but glowing accolades in their reviews. Standing-ovations after every show !! So now I am faced with this problem .. after watching it so close to “final show” .. how can I make my review seem relevant and not repeat what all the reviewers have been saying … let me try ..

Firstly, I have not seen the original La Cage at Broadway but I have seen the movie adaptation of “Birdcage” which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. It was a very memorable movie and it really opened my eyes into the colourful and extravagant world of drag and homosexuality. Mind you that was in 1996. In “Birdcage (the movie),” the chemistry between Robin Williams and Nathan Lane was excellent. I wondered how Ivan and Eusoff would blend together considering I do not think they have done much together but yet are very distinguished actors in their own right (and own country). Boy oh boy .. the chemistry was magical !!

The set of La Cage was beautiful with many bright lights and a great use of the whole depth of the stage to create an illusion of space. I felt like I was magically transported to a “cabaret show” during the “showtime” scenes. There was also very clever use of sets to create the living room / powder room / sidewalk / restaurant parts. The costumes were also dazzling and created a greater atmosphere especially those worn by Ivan and the Cagelles.

The Cagelles were very good in their dance routines especially during the “burlesque” routine with the chairs. That was wonderful. They seemed so graceful … twirling around performing cartwheel after cartwheel .. ending in splits all over the place .. ALL IN HEELS !!!!! I can just imagine the amount of hard training they had to undergo to perfect those various dance segments.

The cast of La Cage was star-studded. The main leads were of course Ivan Heng and Tony Eusoff. Major supporting cast included Hossan Leong, Aaron Khaled, Tan Kheng Hua and Seong Hui Xuan. Other cast members were Darius, Karen and Judee (all ‘Tan’s), Andrew Lua and Brendon Fernandez.

 Ivan Heng and Tony Eusoff really blew me away. Their on-stage chemistry was flawless and they made all other cast members just fade away. We have all of course heard and seen Ivan in action and would expect an excellent performance out of him. As for Tony, I have been privileged to see him perform in KL several years ago and he is one of the brightest star in Malaysia theatre. I have several friends in Malaysia who would just swoon whenever his name is mentioned. He can act and he has a rich and beautiful singing voice. Of course it also helps that he is very ‘kacak (malay for good-looking).’ I hope he does more collaboration with Wild Rice so that we Singapore viewers can see more of him. In La Cage he showed his full repertoire. He sang happy boisterous songs, a heartfelt serenade (with a French undertone) and a really soulful piece which brought tears to my eyes.

Ivan was yet again fantastic in his roles as “ZaZa,” as a “mother” and as a “male figure.” His singing was again beautiful and moving especially in his “solo” song .. all alone right in the middle of the stage before breaking down. You could see many in the audience reaching for their tissues at that point. My funniest moment was when Ivan came out and spoke as if introducing a show .. his comments about “needing money to promote his musical career in US” really hit home !!! At the end, when he walked out … all clad in white .. the look on his face as he looked at Tony .. could melt the hardest of rocks !!!

It was all the scenes with Ivan and Tony together which really swept me away. It was as though they were really lovers .. so natural … so non-fussed .. so carefree.

Hossan provided many of the laughs in his role as the butler / maid. Aaron Khaled to me seemed a bit subdued and held back. He could have been a bit more expressive. Tan Kheng Hua was her usual chirpy self however she seemed a bit strained as well. Hui Xuan played her part well .. her dance scene with Aaron was her major scene and she was very graceful. (I have commented in my earlier review of Spring Awakenings about how she stood out as someone to watch for the future) All the others played their minor, cameo roles fairly well.

As mentioned above, the problem (a good problem I guess) is that in the presence of Ivan and Tony working together so flawlessly, everyone else is just there to add that slight amount of “frosting” to an already delectable slice of cake.

I really urge all of you to watch this. The show must end this coming Saturday (4th August 2012) For those who loved it .. heck .. watch it again. I am trying to find time in my schedule to watch it again. .. watch it and ‘open your eyes’ … see how beautiful love can be between two men … at the very least … watch it and enjoy how wonderful our local theatre can be … you will be amazed .. we have our own “Robin Williams” and “Nathan Lane.”

Wild Rice … you did it again .. you truly deserve your accolades …

Friday, July 6, 2012

What does "Boom" sound like ... my review of version 2012...


Review of Boom by Sight Lines Production

Where : DBS Arts House
When : 8pm, Thursday 5th July 2012
 
Sight Lines Production has taken the Singapore arts scene by storm. And guess what .. this is only their second production. Boom comes hot on the heels of TrainStopping which was showing in early May. Some production houses take at least half a year to produce something at this scale .. and Sight Lines just do it in 2 months. Good job guyz ..

Boom was previously staged in 2008. I was unable to watch it then so am not able to compare the two. However the 2012 version is very good. Everything came together to make Boom v.2012 into a very polished piece of Singapore theatre.

Firstly, it was good to see the hall packed to the rafters. I guess this may be due to the fact that almost 80% were students. Boom is an “O” and “N” level literature text so this gives the opportunity for the students to see-in-action what they have been studying… from a book into a full-out play. I wished I had such opportunities last time when I was doing “An Inspector Calls” during my “Os.” If even a quarter of these students grow up to further their careers into the Arts, it will be good for the local arts scene. However, on the flip side, some of them still need to learn the common courtesies of the theatre .. such as keeping comments to themselves .. keeping quiet while the play is running etc.

When I first walked in .. I noticed the set. It was very much industrial and cold … it was a wall of grey looking segments .. it was only later that I realised it was glass. Not to reveal too much .. all I can say is that the set was the highlight for me. How it worked to heighten the experience of the various scenes. Everything else moved around (front and behind) this “glass wall.” There was very clever use of lighting to accent moments .. I specifically like the sudden switching off effect !!! (complete with loud “CLICK.”) With such a “small” stage, there was a need to also use sounds to create atmosphere and throughout the play, if you listen carefully (and when those around were not talking / commenting) you can hear sound effects which highlight what is being acted. A very big “well done” to the staging / set / lights / sound crew !! The transition of sets looked “automatic” and seemless !!

Now to the acting .. the cast of Boom (v.2012) is not the most ‘famous’ of local cast such as Ivan Heng or Karen Tan or Siti Khalijah but few of them are veterans in their own right. There were 3 main actors .. Andrew Lua, Fanny Kee and Erwin Shah Ismail. And 4 supporting actors … Vincent Tee, Amanda Tee, Benjamin Kheng and Engie Ho.

Tthe acting was good with strong stage presence, clear delivery of lines and distinct show of emotions. Andrew played his roll well as the son and property agent .. one thing is that he seemed to have only happy and sad expressions. Extreme ends with nothing in between. His expressions does not have varying degrees of sadness or happiness. When he was running around .. enjoying the “good life” … same joyous expression .. when he was upset about his mother .. when he was having the final fight with his mother .. after he was “visited” by his father .. same expression of pain and agony. As for Fanny, she was very good in her role as the mother and you could at times also feel her emotions in her acting but to a certain extent, again very extreme expressions. I personally felt that there was quite a bit of “over-acting” at certain parts. Maybe this was the artistic direction to ensure that the audience is able to “feel the pain and the hurt.” Just my opinion. As for Erwin, I have seen him in Spring Awakening and most recently Romeo & Juliet .. he played his role as a civil servant well. BUT not really very fitting to my perception of a ‘scholar.’ I expected more strait-laced … more internal strife between doing the right thing and doing what is right. Other than that well done Erwin .. more relaxed this time. (But I wonder how could he be .. his pants looked so tight !! Don’t ask me why I was looking at his pants.) Also he kept looking at me because from where I was seated .. the spot light shone STRAIGHT onto me during the cemetery scenes and I was like the headstone !!! Takut siah !!

As for the supporting cast, Amanda stood out for me. She was confident and played her many roles well. I found Engie to look very glum and stiff. Maybe she is also tired physically. Benjamin was fine and also did well changing between the roles though I felt he was overly enthusiastic at times.

No one person really “stood out” above the rest as generally the standard was overall pretty high. One minor gripe of mine is the use of dialect. I have no issue with using dialect .. however, it must seem to be natural and a part of the conversation .. rather than coming out as though it was forced into the middle of the sentence to give it some local flavour. The dialect at times had a very “English accent” to it. That made the dialect a bit jarring to the ears.

In conclusion, Sight Lines have shown again their innovativeness and creativity and strong direction sense in the re-staging of Boom. For such a young team, we can only hope for more quality productions from them.

So guys and gals .. Boom is a play for everyone .. buried amidst the laughter is a much deeper play .. one which is very well transmitted via this production and do not be surprised if you feel that little tug on your heartstrings as the play goes along.

“Where else would I be ..” ….


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Upcoming : Sight Lines' BooM .. the effects of Economic Development !!


Barely a month since the wildly hilarious TrainStopping … Sight Lines productions have another production coming up – BOOM ! (‘!’ added by me for dramatic effect .. see I can be director / producer / something-er too).. If this production is anything like TrainStopping .. it is gonna be great.

Boom was first and last staged in 2008 and written by Jean Tay. It basically tells of the feelings and emotions of several people (dead and alive) when their homes go en-bloc. Boom has been made into a book and used as an ‘O’-levels literature text for secondary students. The premise may seem rather straight-forward and simple …. But it is in these simple productions where you really see the emergence and strength of good acting and directing.

The cast of BOOM is mainly focussed on the young talents of Singapore Arts. I do see some familiar faces in Andrew and Erwin. I have seen both of them on stage before. Erwin must be like some sort of a superman. This is his 3rd production this year. I have said in my previous posts that I definitely see him to be a big star in Singapore theatre. He is a “cakap bahasa Inggeris” version of Najib Ali in his versatility and poise. (my opinion) With my limited theatre exposure, I have not seen the other cast members before.

The Creative team of Derrick, Jean and Engie need no introductions. Derrick and Engie are a power-packed duo with a very keen eye for details. These minor details (a’la TrainStopping) are what audiences remember and keeps them coming back. For a fledging Theatre company and young directors .. Sight Lines is showing a great deal of promise. Here’s hoping BOOM does well giving a boost to all the young people involved in this…

Dates            : 28 June – 8 July 2012

Time             : Tuesdays – Fridays : 8pm

Saturdays & Sundays : 3pm & 8pm

No shows on Mondays (Monday off la !!)

Venue           : DBS Arts Centre, Home of SRT

Prices           : $40 - $55 (excluding SISTIC handling fee)

Agent           : SISTIC (www.sistic.com.sg)

So please come along .. young and old .. and experience the ups and downs of “forced relocation..” … how “economic development” has led to a loss of heritage and culture and how the dead and the living deal with it …

To fly off to Inkpot .. or not to be ... that is the question ... NEED YOUR COMMENTS BAD !!!


Hi All !!! Sorry for not posting anything over the past few weeks. Work has been pretty much hectic and I haven’t had any time to watch anything …

.. Also .. I wrote to “flying inkpot” applying for a role as volunteer reviewer for the website. The editors went through my blog and gave me many good and constructive comments as to how to improve my writing skills before I can be part of their team. I am still very much mulling over it.

I can very much change my writing style to suit a more “learned” audience but then I think that I will lose part of the charm of this blog. As posted way earlier, this blog is for the everyday people (like me) who seeks alternative entertainment other than cinemas and casinos … underaged girls and pubs .. who wants to enjoy an evening of mixed emotions at a play .. laughing at comedies in the theatre .. and just chilling to the best of Singapore’s arts scene. This blog is NOT meant for Arts & Literature lecturers and students .. NOT meant to critique the acting or the theme … nothing technical here .. just Me telling people what I saw .. what I liked .. what I think can be done better (based on watching other stuff) .. and getting to know people who like what I write.  And I do it all in my everyday style .. using everyday words … This blog was started in December 2011 and since then I have had 4,000 hits (out of which half is probably me!!!).. I just wished that more people will leave comments rather than just read and bugger off. Tell me what you think so that I can write better or more to cater to what you want ..  

Anywayz .. if I were to join Inkpot, I will probably have to close down this blog as I do not have the time to write multiple reviews in different styles for one show. <I have a full-time day job … a part-time night job (stop giggling!!!) ..> .. so what do you guys think?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In rememberence of Emma Yong ...

Once again, Death has taken away one of the bright and extremely talented stars of the Singapore Arts. I feel this emptiness that I will not be able to enjoy your wonderful singing and acting. Emma, you have all our prayers and hope your suffering has come to an end leaving only Joy and Happiness with God now.

Warmest condolences to your loved ones ...

The following is an exerpt from a poem I read before .. which I feel is very apt during this very sad time ...
'This is in memory of the good who die young,
And we look at you now smiling down from above,
We know that you see us now, we know you hear us grieve,
This life is far too short already, and you were too young to leave.

You were the best that we've ever known,
So believe that you'll stay with us as we now grow alone.
If there's one thing we'll remember for now and forever after,
The thing everyone talks about is your unending laughter.

It's strange how your laughter brings us to tears,
Crying for the love you've shown us all through your too few years.
So this is in remembrance of a true friend gone
Without you in this place something just seems wrong.'


RIP Emma ...............

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

..if u wish .. u can leave your wishes, prayers, condolences behind .. I will dedicate this post to Emma to show how much she has touched our lives ...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

.. MRT Excuse Chit ... not Shit ah !! My Review of Trainstopping


I finally caught “TrainStopping” last night at the Old Parliament House, @The Art House. It has been more than a year since I have seen anything @ the Art House and I must say that Sight Lines could not have picked a more apt venue for their debut production. As I was shown my seat (thanks Derrick), I felt like I was brought somewhere else .. away from the hustle and bustle and stresses of life. The mood lighting in the hall (is it a hall??) was calming and so was the music. It was an excellent way to cool down and to prepare the audience for what was about to come..

TRAINSTOPPING !!! This is the first production for Sight Lines, the first professionally staged work under the penmanship of Jeremy Yew and also Derrick Chew’s first foray into the murky waters of directing !! I must say that it came together very well and felt more like a production done by a seasoned production house with a veteran crew. The lines were well written and if caught, you cannot help but chuckle at how they cut deep into the current affairs of the country. Well done to Jeremy who also managed to “redo” the lyrics of so many current songs to “fit” into this revue.

The directorial team also did a good job in putting the relatively narrow and long (portrait-esque) stage floor to good effect. It felt like the actors were up close and personal. There were also all the great small little bits and pieces which bound everything together into the main MRT theme. Good job !

As Trainstopping was touted to be a musical revue of Singapore 2011, there were many skits depicting events in Singapore 2011. There were bits on the recent GE2011 (which were not many thankfully as I feel that this issue had been beaten and killed too many times), the flooding along Orchard Road, issues on Foreign Talent in the most unlikely of places and of course major bits about the MRT incidents. It was also very smart of Jeremy to somehow fit in the message of local culture/art being sidelined in Singapore. With so many skits, there are bound to be some misses. For some of the skits, I felt that the impact was lost because there was either too little impact or too little explained …

The actors on the other hand are all veterans to this industry. It was great to see Darius, Celine and Siti working together on so many of the skits and best of all, combining their voices to great effect. Darius was as usual, funny with his nasal voice (except when singing) and funny expressions. Celine was good but I felt that she could be bit more expressive and less hesitant. It is my opinion that Siti stole the show. She is such a natural in her comedy and it is no wonder she won the 2011 Life! Theatre awards best actress. Her delivery of her lines were accurate and smooth. During her solo skit as a Malay girl going to get married, it felt as though she was talking to the audience as naturally as talking to her best friends. I understand Malay language so I found her Malay jokes / nuances very funny. (KETIAK BUSUK!!!)

The one issue I had with Trainstopping was the sound quality. It was at times quite difficult to hear the lines clearly because they were either muffled or drowned out by the loud music. This may also be due to where I was sitting or the acoustics in the venue. (ed : Who plays loud music in parliament???? LoL) Looking at some of the puzzled faces of the other people in the crowd meant that I was not the only one having some issues with catching the words. At certain parts, the lights were pretty glaring as well. Also because of the colors picked for the stage lights, it seemed as though the actors were in 3D !!! (might be my eyes???)

In conclusion, Trainstopping was a well put together and the music lines really played into the actors strengths. It felt very relaxed and though there were some misses, I can guarantee that there are enough hits to make your evening. Do not expect a show of loud, bawdy laughter .. but more a revue of good music, chuckles and giggles on the funny events of Singapore in 2011. Good job to the “virgin” writer, director and Sightlines. I hope to see more soon …

Anywayz folks .. pls get your tickets at www.bytes.sg and GET THEM SOON as you have only 3 more days !!! No excuses .. MRT breakdown ALSO you must get there !!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review on Wild Rice's Romeo & Juliet


Hello all of you guys ... sorry for the lack of any posts over the last few weeks. I have been overseas for work and I have not been to anything except for Sarah Chang a few weeks ago (not gonna do a review on that .. it is Sarah Chang ... ‘nuff said!!). So I was really looking forward to Ivan Heng’s Romeo & Juliet !!!

I have been reading the reviews by many people about Wild Rice’s version of R & J and they have been sparkling. The hype and my anticipation was built sky-high before I even walked into the Drama Centre last Saturday evening. As mentioned in my previous R & J post, I have seen many different versions of Shakespeare’s most famous play. I have also read the unabridged and abridged versions many times in preparation for my ‘O’-levels literature exam years ago (btw, I scored and A1 for it .. woo hoo). The bonus was that I went with my better half who has a Major in English & English Literature but has never read R & J. She knows the story .. or so she claims .. must be via the Baz Luhrmann movie version. I personally think that was a good movie except that diCaprio was in it.

As we took our seats (right in front .. AA row was removed .. so A row was the first row .. right in the middle), I noticed that the set was surprisingly bare. In fact it was totally empty other than a very large stage floor. There were almost no markings on the floor. This was rare in this age of “large and pretty” sets. The place filled up pretty quickly and you could feel the buzz in the air as others in the audience waited impatiently for the play to start.

The opening scene was extremely stylized as the entire cast came out and stood stoically as Benvolio (Rishi Budhrani) delivering the opening prologue. This set the mood for the entire play. As per my usual reviews, I shall not go into too much details about the play so as not to spoil it for anyone else. All I can say is that it is one of the best plays I have ever seen in my entire life. Why?? Read on ... read on ..

Firstly as the set was bare, it all came down to pure acting. The acting was overall very good. To me, Erwin Shah (Mercutio) was the star of the night. I last saw Erwin in Spring Awakening where he was good but still rather hesitant (see my review of Spring Awakening). In R & J .. he shone. I feel that there are still some minor rough edges as the enthusiasm in his acting seemed to come across as ‘overacting.’ Give him a little more time and I can see him becoming one of the best of his generation here in Singapore.

Another of the cast who was excellent was Julie Wee who played Juliet. One could feel her emotions as she went from a innocent, young daddy’s girl ... to a young lover ... willing to forsake it all for her true love. Ivan did a good job casting her as Juliet.

Remeo was played by Hansel Tan. He did a good job but somehow I felt something missing. He delivered his lines perfectly but his facial expressions came across as forced rather than something truly felt. He seemed to have only two expressions – happy and sad with nothing in between. In the first act, when he was all lovesick and pining for Rosalyn .. he seemed fairly neutral and well “ho hum.”

Reading through the names for the supporting cast, it is expected that they would be great. Kay Siu has yet again shown why he is one of the best in what he does in his portrayal of Lord Capulet. When the tears rolled down his cheeks, I couldn’t help but feel misty-eyed. Swee Lin played the role of the Nurse well with her funny quips and sexual innuendoes. She would easily be many of the audience’s favourite character for the night. I have rarely seen Yu-Beng act other than on TV many years ago. I personally think that theatre fits him better. However, I think Friar Lawrence could be a bit more cheeky and less serious.

I was a little disappointed at how Tybalt turned out. The devil’s horns were a good touch but I felt that he was a little too one-dimensional. Not much was shown in terms of his close relationship with the Capulets. We all had to assume that he was very close to them especially to Juliet. He came across just as someone from the Capulet family who just wanted to kill anyone who was a Montague.

Also, the close relationship between Benvolio, Romeo and Mercutio seemed to be lacking. We know that they are extremely close friends but it came across that there was something missing in the scenes where the three of them were together. Though the “death of M” scene was excellent. “A plague on both your houses” required more blood to be spit out !!! (LoL)

As mentioned earlier in this post, there was very minimal set except for a bed, some tiki torches and backdrop images. That was enough!! Minimal distractions and maximum impact / concentration on the acting. The lighting work was fine with great shadow play of the cast against the backdrop and the floor at various scenes. The music was loud and furious during the fight scenes adding to the atmosphere but yet again kept to bare essentials. Good job backstage guys !! The modern style of costumes also made it all seem more current.

As you can tell, I really liked Ivan’s version of R & J. I felt it just came together nicely without being overly stuffy and pretentious. The acting and choreography was spot-on. The lines were delivered perfectly in terms of intonation and speed. I have some friends who found the ‘ole english’ difficult to understand and another friend actually fell asleep within 5 minutes of the play. They told me Shakespeare is not for everyone. I beg to differ. We all studied English in school. If we bother to pay attention and concentrate to the acting, even without understanding all the words, we can understand the meaning. In my opinion, R & J is the easiest of all his plays to understand as it is fairly light as compared to Hamlet and Macbeth. It is also one of the shortest and the language used is very much similar to modern English except for the poem-style of writing.  

Again, heartiest congratulations to the creative team at Wild Rice .. especially to Ivan Heng for this excellent take on R & J. Here’s hoping that it will not be too long a wait before he decides to tackle another classic ... say ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ or ‘As you Like It’ perhaps?

(ed : sorry this was done in Script font as I felt it would be more fitting)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Upcoming : Wild Rice's Romeo & Juliet





Venue : Drama Centre Theatre
Date : 12 April - 28 April 2012
Ticketing Agent : Sistic

For more details please click here for press release.










"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?  Deny thy

father and refuse thy name...”
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any
other name would smell as sweet"
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2

Two of the most famous lines from Romeo & Juliet ... in fact two of the most well-known quotes of Shakespeare (ed : what about 'to be or not to be’). How many times have we heard these lines? They have been used countless times in movies, songs, adverts, books, speeches etc.  Even I used to be able to sprout these and a lot more quotes from R & J, not because I was some intellectual romantic .. but because I studied literature for my ‘O’ levels and this was one of the books we were dissecting. I bet many of you guys also had to do some Shakespeare book for your ‘O’s. Pity those who had to do Macbeth and Hamlet .. super boring and super lots of lines to memorize ...

I enjoyed the two years reading / memorising / quoting / discussing / debating / analysing R & J in school. R & J is IMHO the easiest and shortest of all of Shakespeare’s plays. It is easy to digest without much problems with the unabridged version. However, as I am from the 20th century (albeit the back end), I never had the opportunity to catch R & J being performed live. I thought the movie version was WAY too stylized and I personally do not think that Leonardo de Caprio can act !! So this is the best way to enjoy it being acted out the way Shakespeare may have done. I am pretty confident that if anyone can pull it off .. Mr Ivan Heng can. Looking at his many, many directorial successes, R & J should be well done and a feast for the senses.

I have always felt that R & J is not just about the “star crossed lovers” but included the supporting cast and their little character nuances. The Machiavellian nature of Mercutio ... the loving-doting nature of Nurse .. the hot headedness of Paris .. the stubbornness of the Capulets all come together to bring the play to life and bring out the best of Romeo and Juliet. It is no wonder that in this rendition, the supporting cast are played by well established actors such as Kay Siu, Wendy Kweh, Swee Lin, Brendon Fernandez and Yu-Beng. Romeo will be played by Hansel Tan and Juliet by Julie Wee.  I have to admit I have yet to see Hansel and Julie perform but their theatre CV looks very impressive. 

I have been waiting almost 20 years to finally catch R & J performed live and am very much excited about it. The last theatre I caught was Pangdemonium’s Spring Awakenings which was also about young lovers, forbidden love (in a more physical sense) and the emotional trials and tribulations of growing up. It would be a pretty far stretch to compare Spring Awakenings to Romeo & Juliet but there are its similarities .. and don’t forget, life during Shakespeare’s time was far simpler ... stay tuned for my review and will update any information when I get it ...

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;”

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2.7

 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Trainstopping : Press Release

MRT getting you down? Go catch Trainstopping and laugh your frustrations away !!

Coming soon is “Trainstopping : 2011 in Revue” at The Arts House end April for a run of about 10 days. So far all the information I have received has been via the press release but if the show is ass funny as the press release .. it will definitely be worth watching !!!

The all-star cast of Darius Tan, Celine Rosa Tan and Siti Khalijah will definitely have you LOL-ing all over the place. I have seen Darius in “Aladdin” and I personally thought he stole the show (you can read my review somewhere in my blog .. shameless) .. I have seen Celine in Fried Rice Paradise and in The Full Monty .. she is super versatile and crazy. Finally, caught Siti in Boeing Boeing and Gemuk Girls just to mention a few. The 2011 LIFE! Theatre Awards Best Actress is such a natural with her expressions and her delivery. I am now just trying to picture all three of them together .. it is gonna be hard to keep up with them ..
The songs and lines will be written by Jeremy Yew. Jeremy is the guy behind the now widely read “Buttons in the Bread” blog .. (I have to admit.. I got my inspiration for my blog from Buttons). This is his first professional staged work but seeing how talented his writing is, this will be great.

Derrick Chew is the director for Trainstopping. Like Jeremy, this is his professional stage directorial debut. Let this not fool you as Derrick is already a veteran of the Arts here in Singapore as producer for several sold-out shows such as The Hossan Leong Show, The Full Monty and the recently concluded Spring Awakening.

Considering the stellar cast and production team ...  I am the first to say that this show will be a hit and hopefully it can slowly be expanded to a yearly event.

I GOT MY TICKETS ALREADY !!!!

Dates : 26 April – 3 May 2012 (8pm on weekdays, 4pm & 8pm on weekends)
Venue : Chamber, The Arts House
Ticket prices : $48 (excl $2 ticket handling fees)
Ticketing details : NOT SISTIC ... but at www.bytes.sg
Further information can be found here.

Update :

WANNA WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO TRAINSTOPPING?

Simply LIKE their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SightLinesEntertainment) and stand a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Gala performance of Trainstopping worth $100! Go Go GOooooooooooooo !!! Just a mouse click away ..............





Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring Awakening .. My Awakening ...


Produced by : Pangdemonium Productions
Time / Date : 8pm / 15th Feb 2012

Venue : Singapore Drama Theatre, National Library

“Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.”
 

Spring Awakening (SA) by Pangdemonium tries to put out the above message .. in the form of a rock musical. It succeeded... beautifully.

Check out the set ..
The entire show was done around 1 set. It was a beautifully designed and produced set. The band members were seated behind the set and a portion of the set was “into” the crowd giving the feeling that you are at a concert standing in the mosh pits. Thanks to D for the great tickets.

I was full of anticipation and expectations before the show as I read the many glowing reviews about this local variant of SA. I have heard about SA overseas but was never able to catch it. Common descriptions of SA were, “daring ... full of energy ...  risque ... touching ... relevant..” The song “My Junk” is described as a very “interesting” take on a love song.

To start off, when I was going through the cast .. only Adrian Pang and Candice de Rozario popped up as common names.. the rest I had to read through their background and realise .. “Ohhhh ... it is that guy ah ...” Lim Yu-Beng doing Lighting Design ??

The show started off brightly with the 3 kids setting the scene of the friendship between Moritz, Melchior and Wendla. This was followed by Wendla all grown up as a teenager pondering about the “birds and the bees.” I shall not continue on with the story as you have to see it yourself.
Adrian Pang as a German school teacher
On the whole, the acting was a bit strained at times. I could sense the slight hesitation in the young actors and that little lack of confidence. You can immediately see the difference in the quality between Adrian/Candice and the young actors. This is apparent in their facial expressions when they show their feelings as it seems a bit strained and single dimensional. I felt that Nathan (Melchior) looked the same when was happy and when he was sad. Also he seemed a bit tense on stage .. he was standing with his shoulders very much hunched and awkward at times. This as compared to the measured expressions and poise of Adrian Pang.

However, it is also very apparent that Julia (Wendla) has had quite a bit of acting experience. It is my personal view that she was the outstanding performer in that show. There were certain “difficult” scenes throughout the show and she played her part masterfully, full of confidence and it all seemed so natural for her.  Another person who stood out to me was Rebecca (Ilse). She also played her part well.
The female cast
From the acting point of view, the female cast members played their roles better than the male members. The male cast members lacked the finesse and “polishness” which can only come about with prior stage acting experience. They were trying their best but there were one-two times where they seemed to be over-acting.

The singing and dancing was where everyone shone. As SA is considered to be a musical, this is where it all matters. Before that, high praise must go to the music team, from Wenfu to each and every one of the band members. They were awesome. It was not all about loud music but all the slight sounds and background music which made everything on the stage work. The production / stage guys were also magnificent with extra praise to the “followspot” guy. Good theatre is very often ruined by a bad production team but in this, case the excellent production team took the show to another level.

Classic ...
All the cast members can not only sing but also dance. It is actually pretty funny seeing Adrian and Candice rocking it out on stage. Songs by individuals were good .. the songs with “many” were better. The blending of the voices was very well done with perfect intonation by all of the cast. For most of the songs, the lyrics were loud and clear. There were one or two bits where Eden (Moritz) was more shrieking/shouting than singing. However this was probably due to the high energy in him and the portrayal of the release of his angst. However, is it just me or does Eden sound a bit nasal? Maybe again, he is trying to play his role as a snivelling, confused teenager who has led a life of constantly being berated by his father.

Overall, someone who wants the typical “ha-ha-ha” kind of comedy theatre need not watch this show. However, someone who wants to be “entertained” and be treated to feelings of happiness and sadness ... wonder and shock ... then Pangdemonium’s Spring Awakening is definitely something you have to catch. I highly recommend this show to teenagers and to parents and anyone who wants to see Candice de Rosario making out !!!! Though, this may have been set in Germany in the late 19th century, the issues it addresses (puberty, homosexuality, abortion, religion, sexuality, spanking, falling in lust with your piano teacher etc.) are issues which are still very much relevant today. Teenagers in every country also have to deal with these issues in their own ways. It is important to realise what can go wrong if these issues are not addressed properly ...

Good job guys. Thanks to the Pangs for daring to bring Spring Awakening to us. Thanks also for introducing us to this new crop of young talents. If they are the future of Singapore Arts, then I think the future will be bright....

The future of our local arts scene ...


“...we’ve got our junk .. and my junk is you ....”