Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tasteless Bubur Cha Cha : My Review of Great World Cabaret Let’s Bo Bo Cha Cha

When I bought the tickets to Great World Cabaret, I was thinking.. WOW Mark, Judee, Sebastian and Hossan all in one show .. CABARET STYLE … have to buy la. 4 blockbuster acts .. lots of Hokkien laughs .. tickets will surely be flying. Quickly buy .. however, the start of my disappointment came when I found out (on the day of the show) that they were separate .. one superstar one week. I told myself .. its ok .. Mark Lee will be super funny too even if it was for 1.5 hours. I was already contemplating buying tickets for the Sebastian shows as well (super big fan of Sebastian).

This was my first time to the RWS theatre and I must say it is very nice. Very plush and grand. VERY UNLIKE THE MBS MASTERCARD THEATRE which is grey and cold. I had super VIP seats right in the middle of the theatre and plenty of legroom with even a little table to put my drinks. ROCKSTAR SEATS. As it got nearer to 8pm, the seats began to fill up. As the RWS theatre is very large, I was thinking would it be possible for it to be full-house .. especially on the 3rd day night of the Lunar New Year. Sadly, I was right .. it didn’t fill up.. it was barely 40% filled.

The show then started.

Before I continue, I must stress that this is solely my opinion based on what I saw that night and comparing to other plays and shows and theatre that I have seen previously. If you do not agree, then go read something else. OK disclaimer done .. back to my review.)

The show was a mess. It was amateur and badly put together. The premise of the show was about this man who is now elderly remembering the days when he was younger and working in a carbaret show in Singapore in the 60s. The different 'segments' of the show were like different 'acts' which used to be featured at a cabaret at that time. The show opened with the big dance and song routine which though was very bright and colourful just felt short of exciting. This was followed up by the ‘three drunken sailors’ routine which was just unnecessary. There was no excitement to it. Next came the singing /dancing act where 3 ladies came out to sing and dance. The only one who stood out was the second lady singing ‘Bunga Melur’ as Kartina Dahari. Rose Chan and Sakura Teng wwere just bad imitations. I have seen Hui Xuan sing and dance before and this performance was muted and more focus on ‘removing her clothes’ rather than on her singing and dancing (which I know she is superb at). It did not help that the accompanying music drowned out their voices (which was the common thing throughout the show).

The next ‘segment’ was the Magic Show which was not too bad. One or two of the magic tricks were pretty impressive but then the others were like again just so ‘ho-hum.’ The magician’s assistant was applauding the magician more than the audience. This was followed by the ‘Siglap brothers’ routine which I feel must be the worst thing I have ever watched to date.

Mark Lee’s routine came next and it was above average for the evening. To be honest, it really would not have taken much to shine amongst all the other ‘segments’. He was funny in his unique gangster-ah beng way and though his jokes were very much cliché, his presentation and style made it all funny. However, he was BARELY on stage for longer than 20 mins. The next act was the Qing Dao Acrobatic troupe which was pretty good too. The stunts performed were quite entertaining and suspenseful. This was followed by another song-and-dance routine and rounded up with the entire cast (magician and acrobats included) singing on stage.

Before I wrote this review, I was read other reviews of this show. Generally the reviews from other reviewers were more negative and positive. My view is that the show was hastily put together and it showed. I was very surprised as it was directed by George Chan and written by the highly dependable Alfian Sa’at. I guess the dancing was well choreographed and there were not many lines in it anyway so it was not fair to judge George and Alfian based on this show.

I was very disappointed with the quality of the segments. It felt to me like lets get whoever wants to perform, add a dash of star power in the form of Mark / Judee / Sebastian / Hossan, add some nostalgic music and dancing and sell it to the public as a SG50 show to teach the young about entertainment in the 60s. There narrative which was meant to string the segments together was very flimsy, the quality of the segments was really mediocre and it just all felt amateur. I doubt that a cabaret show in the 60s was in English and with an American accent too. It was smart idea to push Mark Lee and Sebastian to lure the hokkien-speaking Aunty crowd but just for 15 minutes?

I am very surprised that Dream Academy came out with something of this low quality. I was very surprised that 40% of the seats were filled (there were 30% discount coupons being distributed in the Food court…  and IMHO .. it still wasn’t worth it). After watching ‘Great World Cabaret’ and ‘Dim Sum Dollies : History of Singapore Part 2’ late last year, I am beginning to wonder about the quality of productions by Dream Academy. I have nothing personal against anyone in Dream Academy and Dream Academy itself. I have always enjoyed their previous shows like Crazy Christmas and such but lately the quality of their productions seem to be going down ... STEEPLY. Ticket prices have increased and the audience will surely want to watch something highly entertaining and fun. Studying the audiences reaction after the finale, I could tell that they were not entertained at all. Very little laughter and applause throughout the show. When the segments ended, it was more like .. “err are we supposed to clap now” kind of reaction.

If anyone from Dream Academy want to contact me about this review and what I think about the show so that hopefully something can be improved, please feel free to. I will be glad to share my experience with you so that we can improve the quality of our local productions.

One thing’s for sure .. I will not be buying tickets for the Sebastian variant of Great World Cabaret.

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