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The Buttons Theatre Accolades 2013!

December 17, 2013

Buttons Year-End Roundup 2013 (Montage)1

It’s time to dish out the annual year end Buttons Theatre Accolades once again!

As always, these awards are tongue firmly in cheek, so no offense whatsoever is meant.

Let’s just cut straight to the chase…

Favourite Productions:
1) “Gypsy” (The LASALLE Show 2013) – The students of LASALLE surprised greatly by ably taking on this challenging Styne-Sondheim work with book by Arthur Laurents. It’s hard to believe the cast were still only students. Everything’s coming up roses indeed.

2) “Atomic Jaya” – Perhaps one of Huzir Sulaiman’s most popular works. The master playwright’s supreme comedic talent was on full display. Despite the abundance of characters in the script, Karen Tan and Claire Wong prove that two actors is all you need to pull it off. Highly enjoyable production. (Insert bomb pun here.)

3) “Gruesome Playground Injuries” – Who would have thought that a play filled with gross, gory scenes could actually be so fulfilling? Seong Hui Xuan and Alan Wong reach deep and pull off a genuinely moving performance telling of missed opportunities and lost love. Oh, and the song choices definitely did the trick too.

Least Favourite Productions:
1) “Lightseeker” – Like your wildest dreams come true, except that wildest dreams here means cheesy sci-fi nightmares of the highest order. Can’t think of many other ways to blow a multi-million dollar budget. Lightseeker? More like Frightseeker.

2) “The Bride Always Knocks Twice <她门>” – Amazing eight-women cast notwithstanding, the first half was an absolute drag, almost painful. The bride, played by Isabella Chiam, was rushing to get in the door. I was dying to get out.

3) “Pursuant: a musical” – This musical by the S’pore Lyric Opera about a dystopian Singapore in the year 2023 was disturbing on many levels, none of them good. It couldn’t seem to decide whether it was playing to kids or to adults. But perhaps the bigger and more dire identity crisis was that it was essentially an opera trying to masquerade itself as a musical.

The “Brightest Young Playwriting Talent” Award:
Joel Tan – It’s hard to come up with another resume quite a impressive as Joel Tan’s at the moment, what with “Walking In” staged by Buds Theatre in May/June, a monologue (“That Daniel”) and a full-length play (“Our Lady of Lourdes”) being read just this month by Checkpoint Theatre, and not to mention writing the libretto to W!ld Rice’s big panto “Jack & the Bean-Sprout!”, which opened last month. And it seems the musically-inclined Joel is working with Huzir Sulaiman on an upcoming new musical too. Is there no end to this young man’s talent?

The “Visit Neil Road 2013” Tourism Award:
“And Then There Was One” – This quirky little audio-based journey concocted by spell#7 as part of this year’s NUS Arts Festival was truly delightful, quite unlike any other production this year. It was a whodunit based loosely on the 1926 Neil Road murder, and took us on a long journey around the Neil Road vicinity, and finally ending up back again in the NUS Baba House. The view on the roof at the end of the journey was quite something.

The “I Didn’t Know That Part Of Singapore’s History Even Existed” Award:
“The Last Chief Minister of Singapore” – This playread as part of “Watch This Space” educated us on the colourful life and times of a certain Lim Yew Hock, who happened to be the last Chief Minister of Singapore. Thanks, Lucas Ho, for shedding light on this rather significant but strangely obscure part of our political history.

The “Best Rendition Of A Raunchy French Song” Award:
“A French Kiss in Singapore” – Sing’Theatre’s moan-for-moan recreation of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot’s “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus”, performed by Hossan Leong, George Chan, Robin Goh and Linden Furnell was quite the aural treat. Oh, oui je t’aime!

The “Whoever Chose The Songs For This Play Should Consider Being A DJ” Award:
“Gruesome Playground Injuries” – Have songs like “Sonnet” (The Verve), “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” (Green Day), “Unwell” (Matchbox Twenty), and “Kiss the Rain” (Billie Myers) ever sounded so poignant? Not only did the chosen songs remain true to the year in which they were released, they also fit the particular mood perfectly well.

The “Whoa I Didn’t Know The Esplanade Theatre Stage Was That Deep!” Award:
“Glass Anatomy – The Musical 《搭错车》” – Who would have thought the Esplanade Theatre stage could stretch till that far deep in? I had never seen the stage being used till that extent before. If only the same could be said for the depth of this musical though.

The “What The…Did I Just Watch??” Award:
“Sex. Violence. Blood. Gore” – Red Pill Productions’s staging of this Alfian Sa’at piece at the Goodman Arts Centre Blackbox was disturbing at best, and more often than not bizarre. One wonders if it was due to the script or the staging…or both. Or maybe that was the whole point of it all.

The “Best Non-Teaching Related Use Of Chalk” Award:
“The Book of Living and Dying” – This Finger Players masterpiece had that ethereal quality to it. It seemed to speak of something larger than the artform itself…kinda like a U2 song. Mesmerising work, one of the finest yet from the Finger Players, and that is saying a lot. You had to see it to believe it.

The “Best Newly-Coined Theatre Catchphrase” Award:
“I Liddat Liddat You” from “Jack & the Bean-Sprout!” – If there was one take-home catchphrase from this year’s W!ld Rice pantomime, it would definitely have been “I liddat liddat you” from the song of the same name. What “liddat liddat” stands for exactly in this instance is not entirely clear (Like like? Love love? Adore adore?), but it sure is a fantastic lyrical idea. And the melodic hook is pretty catchy too.

Until next year!!

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