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Coming Soon: The Effect

September 8, 2015


Event: Lucy Prebble’s “The Effect” presented by Couch Theatre
Venue: Drama Centre Black Box
Run: 8th – 13th Sept 2015

Opens Today!

Set in the context of a drug trial, “The Effect” tackles the challenging idea of what makes us us.

Are our thoughts and actions simply the result of chemicals buzzing around in our brains, or is there something more than that?

Reuniting onstage after their run in SRT’s “Merchant of Venice”, Johnson Chong and Krissy Jesudason will play the star-crossed lovers, Tristan and Connie; while Prem John and Chio Su Ping take on the roles of Dr Toby and Dr James.

Show Duration: Approx. 2hr 30mins
Ticket Purchase: SISTIC Link (here)
Couch Theatre Facebook Page:

Coming Soon: “HOTEL” by W!ld Rice

August 12, 2015

HOTEL1(Picture courtesy of W!ld Rice)

Event: “HOTEL” by W!ld Rice (in partnership with Singapore International Festival of Arts 2015)
Venue: Victoria Theatre
Run: 27th – 30th Aug 2015

Official Synopsis:

“A hotel is opened at the turn of the century, when the island is still a jewel in the British Crown. It serves as an exotic pit stop for travellers who wish to explore the glittering expanse of the British Empire.

Each day, new faces appear and swiftly disappear – guests and staff alike. Every ten years, we check into the hotel and meet its residents. As Singapore morphs from British colony to Malaysian state to sovereign nation, its denizens – including Singaporeans, Malayans, British subjects, and migrant workers from all over the world – experience profound and dramatic changes. We meet Indian mutineers, Cantonese nannies, Malay film stars, mining magnates, Japanese soldiers, drag queens, wedding guests and suspected terrorists…

As a century goes by, ghosts communicate with the living, doubles are separated by decades, and ancestors leave their stubborn traces behind. Empires die, and new ones are born from their ashes.

An immersive and multi-generational epic, Hotel is directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei, and written by Alfian Sa’at and Marcia Vanderstraaten. The multi-generational, multi-racial, multi-national cast includes Ghafir Akbar, Brendon Fernandez, Sharda Harrison, Jo Kukathas, Dwayne Lau, Lim Kay Siu, Moo Siew Keh, Neo Swee Lin, Pam Oei, Julie Wee, Yap Yi Kai, Ben Cutler & Siti Khalijah Zainal.

Part 1 is set in the years 1915 to 1965, and Part 2 is set in the years 1975 to 2015. Performed in English, Malay, Tamil, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Japanese.”

Show Duration: Approx. 2hrs (with 15mins interval)
Ticket Purchase: SISTIC Link (here)
W!ld Rice Facebook Page:

The LKY Musical

July 23, 2015

LKYMusical4(Photo Credit: The LKY Musical)

Event: The LKY Musical
Venue: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Run: 21st Jul – 16th Aug 2015

When Harry Met Geok Choo

It’s been a truly heady SG50 year thus far, like it or not, and what better way to add on to the festivities than to welcome the long-awaited “The LKY Musical” to the Sands Theatre.

As far as musicals go, this might possibly be one of the most politically-significant ones we’ve ever had in our theatre history, and the show takes on a whole new level of poignancy in light of Lee Kuan Yew’s passing in March earlier this year.

Lest it be mistaken that this musical was conceived after the great man’s death, it has to be pointed out that plans to create this musical were set in motion as early as three years ago by Tan Choon Hiong and Alvin Tan, both directors of the fairly young theatre production company Metropolitan Productions.

Besides, it is virtually impossible to put on a musical of such a magnitude in a matter of just four months.

I attended the show on its second preview night, and while the theatre seemed almost completely full, due to some technical difficulties the show started 45 minutes late.

Which is par for the course really, considering the sheer scale of the musical, the fact that this is Metropolitan’s first time staging a show, and that technical gremlins are part and parcel of preview nights.

“The LKY Musical” focuses on a particular 26-year period of Lee Kuan Yew’s life story, from 1940, when he graduated from Raffles Institution, to 1965, when Singapore gained independence after separating from Malaysia.

It dutifully covers all the major milestones in the man’s life which by now have become common folklore, and one by one we see them being fleshed out on stage – his future wife Kwa Geok Choo (played by Sharon Au) beating him to the top student prize, his close shave with death during the Japanese occupation, his formative years in England meeting the likes of Goh Keng Swee and Toh Chin Chye, his decision to be known as “Kuan Yew” instead of “Harry”, his first meeting with Lim Chin Siong, brokering a deal with Tunku Abdul Rahman to merge with Malaysia in 1963, and finally, culminating in probably the most defining moment of his political career, when he cries on national television to inform the nation that we are now independent from Malaysia.

The non-fishing-village set essentially comprises a giant three-by-three square structure (think Hollywood Squares), where each square or squares would serve as a particular scene.

Adrian Pang does a remarkable job portraying the assertive and sometimes ruthless man to a tee, getting the finer details such as his oratorical gestures and gait all down pat.

At times when he dons the slightly oversized beige suit and struts around on stage, it almost feels like it was the man reincarnate.

And while Adrian Pang handles the vocal demands of all his songs beautifully, the same sadly cannot be said for his compatriot Sharon Au, who struggles both with pitching and rhythm issues.

One wonders why Sharon Au was cast in this musical, because while she gave a satisfactory portrayal of the strong, supportive Kwa Geok Choo, she clearly had her limitations exposed in the singing department.

Benjamin Chow gave as fine a performance of Lim Chin Siong as you could ask for – the charismatic, sometimes naive Chinese-educated trade union leader who had the innate ability to move the Chinese-speaking masses, while Edward Choy’s rendition of Goh Keng Swee was uncannily spot-on.

Sebastian Tan provides the bulk of the comic relief in a largely sombre show (à la Monsieur Thénardier from “Les Misérables”) by playing rickshaw puller Koh Teong Koo, the everyday man who saved Lee Kuan Yew’s life during the occupation.

The 19-song score by Dick Lee was massively disappointing with hardly a tune which registered in the head, and after the equally lacklustre NDP 2015 theme song “Our Singapore”, you start to wonder if the great maestro is starting to lose his golden touch, since we are talking about the same man who once composed songs like “When All The Tears Have Dried”, “Fried Rice Paradise”, “Beauty World”, “My Only Chance”, “Single in Singapore”, “爱是永恒” and countless other cantopop hits.

It has been said that biographical musicals are notoriously difficult to write, because people’s lives don’t often follow the ideal dramatic arc which befits a full-length musical, and you could see what the creative team was trying to get at by playing up to the final climax of the eventual separation from Malaysia and gaining independence.

However, I don’t know if this particular climax was strong enough to carry the show, because while the final scene sought to stir up intense feelings of pride and patriotism, the 1965 separation still shrouds itself with a certain sense of murkiness as to how it happened and who exactly initiated the breakup.

Was it truly the quintessential triumphant moment befitting the climax of a full-length musical?

Probably not.

Was separation from Malaysia something Lee Kuan Yew had fought all along to achieve, right from the very beginning?

No, it wasn’t.

And as such, it’s hard to say the book succeeded in terms of presenting the viewer with a truly compelling, fulfilling dramatic arc.

In terms of historical accuracy, “The LKY Musical” makes certain interesting though ultimately unsurprising decisions.

The creative team was careful to paint a somewhat balanced portrait of Lim Chin Siong, though eventually writing him off as an idealistic communist who had to be put away for the sake of the nation’s political progress.

Kwa Geok Choo is the emotional anchor in Lee Kuan Yew’s life, often being able to match wits with her husband and also give him valuable advice and encouragement when needed, all while being careful not to overstep her boundaries.

Lee Kuan Yew is the undisputed hero of the story, the man whose courage, fortitude and single-mindedness eventually brought Singapore its independence, who astutely formed strategic alliances to further his cause, and who had a softer and kinder side to him, but would not hesitate to pull the trigger and make the tough decisions as and when the situation called for it.

While the predictable story-telling felt like it could have come right off the pages of a secondary school history textbook, were the character portrayals entirely accurate?

Who exactly initiated the separation from Malaysia anyway?

And was Lim Chin Siong really what he was made out to be?

And while the key founding members of the PAP were all portrayed in the show, where was Devan Nair in all of this?

After all, he was the only PAP member to win a seat in the 1964 Malaysian General Election, when Singapore was a part of Malaysia, so his contributions can hardly be deemed insignificant.

Ultimately, “The LKY Musical” checks many of the proverbial boxes, but fails to stand out in any one particular aspect.

It’s the perfect metaphor for our country actually – the fact that we seem to always excel in the hard sciences and maths, and that we’re efficient and great organisers, but struggle to come up with truly creative, original or inspiring ideas.

Which brings me to the title of the musical…I mean, seriously? Was there no better option on the table than “The LKY Musical”?

When all is said and done, it would be hard to pick out one defining feature or moment in this musical, that one thing which stays with you long after you walk out of the theatre.

It’s perfectly serviceable, has a strong cast, a clever set, and it might even travel abroad…but it certainly isn’t the “Les Misérables” or “Evita” it aspires to be.

Maybe it’s because we all know the story so well that it would take a whole lot more to enthrall us.

Or maybe it could be missing that one ingredient which Singapore, too, has often been accused of not having – a soul.


July 7, 2015

Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 3rd to 12th July 2015

It’s A Kind Of Magic

We don’t get too many big magic productions being staged here to be honest, much less one that is locally produced, and coming from a big magic fan, that is quite a sad thing.

There were “The Illusionists” who came to Marina Bay Sands back in 2012, and Joe Labero has done his show twice at the Jubilee Hall now, once last year and another time just earlier this year.

On the local front, other than J C Sum (who no longer performs with Magic Babe Ning), I cannot think of many other illusionists who have the gumption to stage a full-length magic show of such a magnitude as “VISION”, held at the Esplanade Theatre no less.

“VISION” is a $2 million dollar production first staged in 2011, and is currently being reprised by father-and-daughter duo Lawrence and Priscilla Khong once again.

Billed at the “largest illusion-theatre show in Asia”, it is apparent after the first few scenes that this is no mere exaggeration, what with the troupe of 16 dancers, the fantastic costumes, the glitzy sets, and the slick production values.

It seems no expenses were spared for this show, and astounding illusions such as the sudden appearance of a flashy sports car in a seemingly empty tent right in the middle of the stage, as well as the ever-impressive Metamorphosis illusion, prove that the duo still remain on top of their game after all these years.

Lawrence Khong displays solid sleight of hand chops as well, with a nifty ball manipulation routine right at the start of the show, as well as a crowd-pleasing Miser’s Dream coin bucket routine midway through.

Instead of being just a collection of disparate illusions like most big magic shows, “VISION” attempts to thread a theatrical element into the proceedings by portraying a strained relationship between father and daughter, and chronicles the duo’s journey toward reconciliation in spite of their many differences.

And it is this narrative that keeps things interesting throughout the show, and the viewer is keen to find out if things eventually work out well for the duo or not.

If there is one gripe about the show, it is that the opening scene featuring Lawrence Khong trying to tuck his little daughter into bed felt far too weak and draggy, with hardly any visual and emotional impact, when one would have expected the opening scene of a major illusion show to be far more captivating and impactful.

The shows’ narrative did take awhile to get going, and some of the lines felt much too contrived, but other than that I thought the rest of the show was fascinating and immensely enjoyable.

As I said, large illusion shows of this scales don’t come our way too often, and thus “VISION” is a show that thoroughly entertains, and feeds the sense of wonder in us all.

And even if magic isn’t exactly your thing, or if you know how it’s all done, beneath the smoke and mirrors lies a universal and heart-warming story of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

Another Country

June 30, 2015

AnotherCountryWildRice1(Photo Credit: Albert Lim KS, courtesy of W!ld Rice)

Event: “Another Country” presented by W!ld Rice
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 25th Jun – 11th July 2015

Strange Bedfellows

W!ld Rice celebrates it’s 15th season entitled “ImagiNATION” with “Another Country”, after staging “Public Enemy” earlier in April this year.

It is essentially a revisit of their 2005 production “Second Link”, because while the cast and material are slightly different this time round, the concept is the largely the same – Malaysian actors playing Singapore texts (both from theatre and literature) in the first act, followed by Singaporean actors returning the favour in the second.

Similarly, the second act, curated by Leow Puay Tin, is done “tikam-tikam” style, whereby the audience gets to randomly dictate the order in which the Malaysian texts are performed.

The first act, entitled “Sayang Singapura”, chugs along steadily enough, and you are taken on a delightful journey through the annals of Singapore history told through notable written texts, with master curator Alfian Sa’at at the helm.

The early works are fascinating although inevitably obscure, offering a glimpse into zeitgeist of a time long before us, and it is towards the second half of the Singapore segment where we start to enter into familiar territory, what with the likes of Kuo Pao Kun, Michael Chiang, Tan Tarn How and so on.

The hilarious enactment of a scene from “The English Language Teacher’s Secret” drew giggles from those particularly familiar with the Catherine Lim short story, while “Highway” by Claire Tham proved to be one of the highlights of the evening, inducing knowing guffaws from motorists who are all too familiar with the perils of driving along the North-South Expressway.

Scenes from Michael Chiang’s “Private Parts”, Haresh Sharma’s “Gemuk Girls”, and Tan Tarn How’s “Fear of Writing” felt familiar yet strangely different, mainly because they were being played by our talented neighbours from across the causeway, and it made things seem like they were being performed with actors carrying with them a different set of persuasions and perspectives, shaped through having lived in another land.

It was nice to see Alfian including works by two relatively newer writers, namely Amanda Lee Koe and Christine Chia, to the collection.

I particularly enjoyed Ghafir Akbar’s portrayal of Deddy Haikel in Amanda Lee Koe’s “Flamingo Valley”, and I thought the entire scene was a beautiful moment.

The second act of the show presents us with five familiar faces – Sharda Harrison, Gani Karim, Janice Koh, Lim Yu-Beng, and Siti Khalijah.

It’s hard to say for sure which act felt more intimate: Was it the one with familiar content performed by unfamiliar faces, or the one with familiar faces performing unfamiliar content?

Nonetheless, the second act, entitled “Tikam-Tikam: Malaysia@Random 2” opened the same way it did 10 years ago, with the actors stipulating a 60-minute time limit on themselves and playing as many works as they can in the order which was randomly determined by the audience just before the close of the first act.

There has to be something said about the difference between the way the two acts are presented, but I just cannot put my finger on it.

Could it be that the first act of Singaporean works, all systematically-presented and in proper chronological order, reflected the more clinical and organised nature of Singapore society?

Or is it that the rushed, cram-everything-into-60-minutes approach in the second act parallels the way in which everybody in Singapore always seems to be pressed for time?

Either way, it has to count for something, although I remain unconvinced that the randomised nature of the presentation in the second act is of any benefit, as it lacks the precious narrative element which is so palpable in the first act.

Also, I felt that involving the audience in the determination of the second act sequence was a largely pointless exercise – gimmicky even – as it didn’t really seem to matter to anyone in the audience what the order in the second act was, and if anything, it was lamentable that on the night I was there, there wasn’t enough time for “Emily of Emerald Hill” (the only Malaysian text I was familiar with) to be performed.

“Another Country” is a poignant take on the cozy and sometimes quirky relationship between two neighbours whose histories and cultures – like it or not – have been inextricably linked, and who will inevitably continue to have close ties with each other in the years to come.

It is performed by ten gifted actors who are all evenly matched, and showcases some of the best works of writing from Singapore and across the Causeway.

Beneath the many apparent differences between us and Malaysia, are we essentially that different from each other?

At times it seems we cannot be any more different, but upon closer inspection we tend to find more similarities than we would like to admit.

But whatever it is, there is no denying we make strange bedfellows.

Coming Soon: “Another Country” by W!ld Rice

June 14, 2015

AnotherCountry1Event: “Another Country” presented by W!ld Rice
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 25th Jun – 11th July 2015

Opens Next Week!

Official synopsis:

“50 years ago, Singapore and Malaysia divorced after a brief marriage of two years.

But, doomed lovers that we are, we just can’t stay away from each other, no matter how often we squabble over water, airspace, and food.

We toil in each other’s cities, relax on each other’s islands, and get fined on each other’s roads.

We laugh at each other’s laws but envy each other’s liberties; separated by history, we are united by our dreams for a better home.

Directed by Singapore’s Ivan Heng and Malaysia’s Jo Kukathas, “Another Country” takes us on a trip through our shared memories and divergent dreams with the most provocative, humorous and unlikely texts, curated by Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at and Malaysian playwright Leow Puay Tin.

From Singapore, we have texts taken from a Catherine Lim short story, a Michael Chiang play, the Singapore Ministry of Culture’s anthem to our glorious but short-lived union in 1963 and more, all to be delivered by a cast of Malaysia’s most acclaimed actors.

Meanwhile, five of Singapore’s finest actors boldly tackle the Malaysian texts, which include excerpts from a Jit Murad play, Mark Teh’s salutation and Tunku Abdul Rahman’s recounting of his dream before the race riots of 13 May 1969.

Will we find more similarities, or more things to squabble over? Will we recognise our homes in each other’s stories? To whom do these stories belong?

And, most important of all…to whom does Hainanese chicken rice really belong?”

Show Duration: 2hr 30mins (excluding 15mins interval)
Ticket Purchase:
SISTIC Link (here)
W!ld Rice Facebook Page:

Coming Soon: VISION 2015

June 9, 2015

Vision2015-1(Photo Credit: Gateway Entertainment Facebook Page)

Event: VISION 2015
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 3rd to 12th July 2015

This July, behold the exciting world of illusion-theatre with Singapore’s only professional illusionist duo, Lawrence and Priscilla Khong.

Running at the Esplanade Theatre from 3rd to 12th of July, “VISION” promises to be a visual spectacle of epic proportions.

The multi-million dollar production features a myriad of brand-new illusions, stunning sets, an international troupe of highly-skilled dancers, as well as an equally impressive crew featuring the likes of Don Wayne, principal magic creator for David Copperfield, who has also worked with Michael Jackson, Cher and Britney Spears.

I have always been a big fan of both magic and theatre, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one!

Show Duration: Approx. 2 hrs (with 20min interval)
Ticket Purchase: SISTIC Link (here)
Gateway Entertainment Facebook Page:


May 27, 2015

Tribes1(Picture courtesy of Pangdemonium!)

Event: “Tribes” by Pangdemonium
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 22nd May – 7th Jun 2015

The Sounds of Silence

It’s hard to get all excited about “Tribes” – Pangdemonium’s second production of the year – just by looking at the poster or reading its synopsis.

Yes, the poster features a somewhat quirky-looking, dysfunctional family (aren’t they all?) posing in front of a dirty yellow backdrop, and the story is supposed to revolve around a young man named Billy, who happens to be deaf.

What’s the best that could happen right?

But don’t let appearances fool you.

“Tribes” is a play written by Nina Raine, and was first staged in 2010 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, and went on to win the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.

It tells of the story of Billy, played by professional debutant Thomas Pang (no relation to Adrian & Tracie), who is the youngest member of a highly dysfunctional family based in Cambridge, where dad Christopher (Adrian Pang) is a coarse, shoot-from-the-hip academic, mum Beth (Susan Tordoff) is an aspiring novelist, older brother Daniel (Gavin Yap) is sometimes boisterous but an ultimately tortured soul who constantly hears voices in his head, and sister Ruth (Frances Lee) is an aspiring singer who has a hard time finding a boyfriend.

Nobody really pays any attention to Billy, and he is therefore the most neglected person in the family, until he one day meets Sylvia (Ethel Yap), who comes from a family of deaf people and is herself going completely deaf soon.

Billy eventually brings Sylvia home to meet his family, and she inadvertently stumbles into one of the most disastrous meet-the-folks situations ever.

Eventually, Billy gets into a serious relationship with Sylvia, and relationships amongst all the characters in the play are inevitably put to the test, often to breaking point.

“Tribes” is often pacy and funny, with the playwright showing a great ear for dialogue, yet at the same time managing to bring out the main themes of the play, such as identity and empathy.

The gorgeous set by Wong Chee Wai, featuring the family’s living room where almost all the action takes place, is both warm and inviting, making you wish you could just jump right onstage and join them in a meal.

The choice of music was spot-on as usual, and somehow The Verve (in this case “The Drugs Don’t Work”) always seems to go well with Pangdemonium plays, as I recall “Sonnet”, also by The Verve, being prominently and adeptly used in the 2013 play “Gruesome Playground Injuries”.

However, it is in the performances that “Tribes” truly sets itself apart.

Frances Lee and Gavin Yap reunite in a Pangdemonium production, having done “Fat Pig” together last year, and while Frances has proven to be both highly competent and dependable, Gavin shines in the particularly challenging role of the mentally-troubled Daniel, who struggles to keep it together after his younger brother Billy leaves the family.

The transition from cocky, rambunctious older brother at the beginning of the play to the defeated, stammering iteration of the same man at the end of the play was a difficult one to pull off, and Gavin did so brilliantly.

Ethel Yap shines too as the girl who slowly loses all her hearing right before your very eyes, and subtle and expertly-controlled variations in her enunciation throughout the play hint at her slow but eventual deterioration to complete deafness.

Her live rendition of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” at the piano, completely from memory, certainly deserves special mention as well.

(How poignant it would have been had she played say a movement from a Beethoven sonata, as a nod to the great composer who had famously also lost his hearing towards the end of his life.)

But perhaps the biggest accolade has to be reserved for Thomas Pang, in what might be one of the most amazing professional debuts I’ve ever come across.

He not only possesses a commanding stage presence, but also plays the role of Billy to a tee with (what appears to be) fluent signing and finely-calibrated speech nuances, and it must have taken countless hours of research and practice to achieve the level of authenticity as exhibited in his portrayal of the deaf Billy.

Talk about a challenging role for your professional debut, but if this isn’t the definition of “breakout performance” then it’s hard to imagine what is.

One does come away from “Tribes” feeling that it is easily one of the most enjoyable and well-executed Pangdemonium plays in awhile.

Where last October/November’s “Frozen” might have come across as too grim to some, and this January/February’s “Circle Mirror Transformation” feeling somewhat lightweight, “Tribes” strikes the perfect balance between mirth and pathos.

We may all perceive ourselves as being part of a tribe, and even in the deaf community there may be different perceived hierarchies as well, but at the end of the day, as evidenced from the exceedingly touching final scene, it really doesn’t matter what communication infirmity one has…ultimately, the only language that truly matters is the language of love.

Read my lips – “Tribes” is a play you don’t want to miss.

The Tempest

May 13, 2015

TheTempestSRT2(Photo Credit: SRT Facebook Page)

Event: “The Tempest” presented by Singapore Repertory Theatre
Venue: Fort Canning Park
Run: 29th Apr – 24th May 2015

Magical Mystery Tour

Truth be told, this is the first time I had attended one of SRT’s “Shakespeare in the Park” productions, and it was quite an experience.

Muggy weather aside, the lovely stage was an enormous one with an entire backdrop resembling an ancient book with what seemed like marine navigational drawings, and when it was lit blue it was just the most beautiful sight.

“The Tempest” is widely believed to be one of the last plays which Shakespeare wrote alone, and probably the only play which he created based not from any other existing texts or stories.

The opening scene depicting the ship being caught in the storm, with the huge blue fabric cascading down from the top of the backdrop, was a joy to behold.

Strong performances abound, with Simon Robson playing an imposing and heroic sorcerer Prospero, and Julie Wee (whom you might recall also played Juliet in the Wild Rice production of “Romeo & Juliet” in 2012) as the beautiful Miranda.

Ann Lek must be lauded too for her spirited (if you’ll pardon the pun) rendition of the sprite Ariel, who not only prances about and runs up and down the hill tirelessly, but also sings marvellously at points in the play.

Other notable mentions in a stellar cast include Timothy Wan as Ferdinand, the love interest of Miranda, as well as the comedic duo of Shane Mardjuki (Trinculo) and Daniel Jenkins (Stephano).

The nature of the story is such that it utilises a great deal of music and choreography, and these scenes added moments of colour and vibrancy to the proceedings.

The acoustics are inevitably dissipated in an open air venue such as Fort Canning Park, and while this is no fault of the production team whatsoever, it was a bit trying having to try and decipher large chunks of the dialogue, especially so with the Shakespearean language.

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that through a delightful mix of lighting, sound, staging and casting, the SRT team has managed to bring out the richness and splendour as is prescribed from a text such as “The Tempest”.

Truly one of the magical ways to spend an evening at Fort Canning Park.

The Pajama Game

May 12, 2015

PajamaGame1Event: “The Pajama Game” (as part of The LASALLE Show 2015)
Venue: The Singapore Airlines Theatre
Run: 6th – 9th May 2015

LASALLE’s big musical showcase this year, performed by the graduating students of its Musical Theatre programme, is the Broadway classic “The Pajama Game”, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical in 1955.

It is based on a novel “7½ Cents” by Richard Bissell, and has libretto written by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, with music and lyrics written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.

The story revolves around a strike by workers of a pajama factory in early 1950s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as the relationships between two couples – Babe and Sid, and Hines and Gladys.

The musical is filled with hilarious moments and memorable tunes, which probably explains why it has remained so popular over the years.

I’ve attended a number of LASALLE Show musicals the past few years, and the one common thing I’ve always noticed is the immense wealth of talent that is present in the students of the programme.

Standout performers include Catherine Campion (whom I last saw in Sight Lines’ “A Christmas Cabaret”), who is such a natural on stage and plays the role of Babe with consummate flair, and Mitchell Lagos, whose rendition of Hines contains such sprightliness it’s a sheer joy to watch.

Equally commendable were Valerie Choo and Matheus Ting, both also from “A Christmas Cabaret”, who play the seductive Gladys and the promiscuous Prez with great gusto, although Dennis Heng, who plays the new superintendent Sid, seemed to struggle at points with the vocal demands of his songs.

However, considering this is a musical set in Mid-Western USA in the 1950s, the accents, especially from some of the supporting cast, weren’t as strong nor as convincing as one would have liked, and the disparity, when juxtaposed with those more competent with their accents, was rather apparent.

The supporting cast and ensemble is a huge one – a luxury which school productions tend to enjoy – and the beautifully choreographed scenes involving the entire cast onstage at work in the pajama factory were a sight to behold.

The sizeable band of twelve musicians gave the musical the fullness of sound it deserved, transporting one back to the nostalgic sounds of 1950s Broadway.

LASALLE Show musicals rarely disappoint, and this one is no different, despite the fact that “The Pajama Game” isn’t exactly the easiest of shows to pull off.

Kudos once again to the graduating class of LASALLE Musical Theatre, and may you go on to greater heights in future.

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