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“Crazy Christmas” by Dream Academy

December 17, 2011

Event: “Crazy Christmas” by Dream Academy
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 14th Dec – 23rd Dec 2011

Repeat The Sounding Joy

The Esplanade Theatre heralds the arrival of the fourth installment of Dream Academy’s annual festive song-and-dance, and when a show such as “Crazy Christmas” is staged at the Esplanade Theatre, that’s when you know that it has finally arrived.

The franchise has certainly come a long way, and the plush venue, generous production values, and massive ensemble featuring a six-piece brass section all point to the fact that the show has come of age.

Sadly, the show must be prefaced with two unfortunate pieces of news – one, that RJ Rosales is no longer with us, and two, that Emma Yong had to pull out of the show due to health reasons.

In memory of RJ Rosales, I would like to take this opportunity to recount my most memorable solo performance of all the three “Crazy Christmases” I had attended (I missed the 2008 one).

As detailed in my review of last year’s show (here), the one singular performance that has always stayed with me up till today was when RJ Rosales sang “O Holy Night” at the Drama Centre last year.

He was blessed with one of the most amazing set of vocals I had ever heard, and when he nailed the climax high note “night” at the end of the song, it was one of the most exhilarating moments in a theatre for me ever.

Rest in peace, RJ Rosales.

I’d like to describe “Crazy Christmas” as a comedy show sprinkled with some well-arranged Christmas tunes, and not the other way around.

Sure, the song-and-dance numbers were somewhat enjoyable, especially the extraordinarily well-arranged “12 Days of Christmas” number (reminiscent of the equally-impressive version of the same song arranged in 2007) sung by the seven of them, but the moments which really rocked the house were when Kumar and Sebastian Tan both did their separate turns as solo standup comics.

Pam Oei returns picking up where she left off last year with the Batgirl routine, but honestly, this gag really doesn’t fly (sorry bad pun), and I was glad that she quickly shed her Batgirl costume in favour of an equally curious bunny gag.

The trio of Pam Oei, Selena Tan and Denise Tan (standing in for Emma Yong) doing the whole bunny routine was mildly entertaining, but somehow you get the sense that the chemistry just isn’t quite the same without Emma, as if you had swapped Mick Jagger into the Beatles in place of Paul or something.

Nonetheless, it would be unrealistic to expect the same level of chemistry as the original Dim Sum Dollies trio, and one has to credit Denise Tan for filling in marvellously and gallantly putting in such a fine performance on such short notice.

The problem with doing a show filled with Christmas songs is that by now, thanks to the endless blaring of cheesy Christmas recordings in malls and restaurants since November, we’ve probably heard them all by now, in all their variants, both good or otherwise.

And without the two outstanding comedy segments by Kumar and Sebastian, I wonder if there would have been enough solid entertainment in the 90-minute show to have kept the audiences sufficiently thrilled.

I’m guessing not.

Which brings us to the question of what lies ahead for this well-established year-end franchise – does it forge ahead with the same formula of the usual festive song-and-dance plus the occasional comedy spot, or is it time for a revamp of ideas?

Because as much as we are starting to grow familiar with the “Crazy Christmas” formula, there is also the niggling sense that it’s starting to lose a bit of its freshness.

Nonetheless, as of now the show has absolutely nothing to worry about, as it offers audiences a night of great entertainment coupled with slick, well-executed Yuletide songs.

If you’re looking for good ol’-fashioned year-end entertainment, then “Crazy Christmas” might just be the thing for you.

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