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Crazy Christmas 2012

December 2, 2012
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CrazyChristmas2012(3)(picture courtesy of Dream Academy Productions)

Event: “Crazy Christmas 2012” by Dream Academy Productions
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 28th Nov – 9th Dec 2012

Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Hollywood

Christmas comes early to the Esplanade in the form of Dream Academy’s fifth installment of “Crazy Christmas”, a now staple year-end feature of the local theatre calendar.

Dream injects new life into a series that was threatening to lose its freshness by introducing the intriguing “Silver Screen Meets Silver Bells” theme, and this shot in the arm proves the much-needed ingredient that gives this year’s edition a charming and somewhat nostalgic slant.

It’s a show replete with songs, costumes and impersonations that harken back to Hollywood’s Golden Age, the era where legends such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bette Davis, Judy Garland and Marlon Brando ruled the silver screens.

The show stars Selena Tan, Adrian Pang, George Chan, Robin Goh, Karen Tan, Judee Tan, Michaela Therese and Hossan Leong, and is what we’ve come to expect from the “Crazy Christmas” formula – incredible voices, intricately-arranged yuletide numbers, clever mashups, dazzling choreography, delightful comedy, and a generous dose of holiday cheer.

A brass quartet at the side of the stage heralds the start of the show, while onstage the sight that first greets us is musical director Elaine Chan on the resplendent white Boston grand, while being backed by an impressive 17-piece orchestra.

The opening medley of “Let’s Go to the Movies” included songs like “Silver Bells” and “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas”, although what I really enjoyed was the inclusion of that little rap bit from Madonna’s “Vogue”.

George Chan, playing Gene Kelly, does a remarkable rendition of the song Kelly was perhaps most well known for – the classic “Singin’ in the Rain”, flanked by a cast of eight industrious Merry Miss-el’toes, and the choreography with umbrellas, though slightly untidy at points, was a joy to behold.

The show’s main comedy skit comes in the form of Adrian Pang playing Dorothy in a slightly bizarre localised version of “The Wizard of Oz”, with Judee Tan playing a bubble tea straw girl without a “brain”, Karen Tan as a condensed milk tin lady without a “heart”, and Selena Tan as a Tiger Beer lady without “courage”.

Along the way, there was also a reference to the National Conversation, buying “Toto” (but of course!), and even a hilarious rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, done in a-go-go style.

I thought this segment was a little bit too heavy on the allegories which came fast and furious, and I’m not sure if everyone was able to fully catch on.

But it was still an enjoyable little segment nonetheless.

The trump card in the form of Judee Tan’s infamous “Dr. Teo Chiew Muay” character was duly rolled out at the half-hour mark, and even if one was not familiar with TCM’s past sightings at “Happy Ever Laughter” and “The Hossan Leong Show” (Episodes 2 & 3), it didn’t take long before the audience started to warm up to this most fascinating of theatrical creations.

I’ve always been an immense fan of Judee Tan and her TCM shenanigans, and as always, she never fails to bring a house down, although it did seem as if her material this time round was not as strong as in the past three appearances.

Perhaps the most heartfelt moment in the show was when Rachel Quek and Xander and Zack Pang, children of Karen Tan and Adrian Pang respectively, came on stage to do their own little numbers, shortly after which their parents appeared on stage as well – albeit in full metal rocker garb – to join them in singing some rocked-out versions of Christmas numbers such as “Silent Night” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

I thought it was a rather sweet little moment on stage, probably the most tender moment in a show which tends to be generally slick and so full of polish.

Hossan’s stand-up routine was vintage Hossan, and is notable for his ingenious mime to the lyrics of “Silent Night”, a la Charlie Chaplin.

And the entire cast saves what is perhaps the highlight of the 90-minute show for the end, in the form of a thoroughly entertaining movie theme medley that draws from famous films such as “The Godfather”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Titanic”, Jaws”, “Rocky”, “Xanadu” and so on.

The group of seven renders the brilliantly-arranged themes a cappella, and the segment is both an incredible thrill and a fantastic note to end the show off on.

There aren’t too many surprises when it comes to “Crazy Christmas”.

The show pretty much delivers on what it’s been known for, and although, as I’ve mentioned before, the term “crazy” perhaps isn’t the best way to describe the show, I wouldn’t agree with the Straits Times’ suggestion of this year’s edition being “sedate” either.

What you get is great singing, exquisite musical arrangements, wonderful orchestration, beautiful costumes, and a large dose of comedy as well.

And if you’re looking for a perfect way to commemorate the Christmas season, then there isn’t really another show out there which gives you all these and more.

It’s been five years and running, and the way things are going it seems the “Crazy Christmas” franchise is going to be around for some time yet.

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