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“Innamorati” The Musical 《唯一》

August 3, 2014

Innamorati1(picture courtesy of Toy Factory)

Event: “Innamorati” The Musical 《唯一》
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 24th Jul – 3rd Aug 2014

The One and Only 

“Innamorati” represents somewhat of a highlight for Toy Factory this year, as it is an original Mandarin musical featuring a young cast of seven, with book written by first-time playwright Jiang Daini, and with twelve popular Eric Moo songs serving as the score.

The musical – the first Mandarin musical for Toy Factory – tells the stories of seven disparate individuals, all with hopes, dreams and fears, and how they wade through the many ups and downs in their lives.

While the stories were largely hackneyed and predictable, it was the beautiful tunes of Eric Moo which truly took centre stage, giving the listener an immense sense of nostalgia, harkening back to the glory days of Xinyao.

In many respects it was almost a tribute musical celebrating the works of one of the most accomplished Xinyao singer-songwriters ever, where the plot often took a backseat to the music.

One can’t help but be tempted to compare this with the other Xinyao-inspired Mandarin musical named “If There’re Seasons”, already having completed its third staging this year since its premiere in 2007, which feature the songs of the legendary Liang Wern Fook, although to be fair, “If There’re Seasons” had a far more cogent and elaborate storyline.

Structurally, “Innamorati” jumps frequently from one character’s story to another, whereas “If There’re Seasons” was a fully drawn-out singular storyline.

The cast of seven young actors, namely Jing Wong, Bonnie Loo, Tay Kewei, Chriz Tong, Sugie Phua, Trey Ho and Benita Cheng did remarkably well to do justice to the songs, and are all surprisingly evenly-matched in the vocal department.

Jing Wong and Sugie Phua were, in my opinion, the outstanding actors/singers of the lot, while Tay Kewei impressed greatly with her ability to play a myriad of musical instruments.

All in all, I’d have to say I enjoyed “Innamorati” quite a fair bit, and a large part of it had to do with the sheer quality of Eric Moo’s songwriting, and whose songs remain just as fresh today as they did a few decades ago.

And it is the songs, as well as a vocally-competent and energetic young cast, which made all the difference between what could potentially have been a dud and a magical evening at the theatre.

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