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).