November 17, 2014

Writing from the Heart by renowned playwright and novelist, Tony Perez

TheatreWorks' Writing & Community is organising a second playwriting workshop, Writing from the Heart by renowned playwright and novelist, Tony Perez from 1 - 6 Dec 2014 at 72-13. This interactive playwriting workshop aims to:

1. Unearth and inspire new playwriting enthusiasts from within the community 
2. Share one of the region's best playwriting skills and expertise with the community
3. Develop new plays through a post-workshop mentorship and dramaturgy programme. 

This second, is organised, following the success of the first workshop we did in May 2014. Of the group of 30 from the first workshop, Tony is mentoring 12 writers, developing 12 new plays through a dramaturgy programme. The mentorship will conclude in end December 2014 and these plays will be presented as a public dramatised reading in the first quarter of 2015. 

Registration form can be obtained via:

November 16, 2014

Firefly in the Light by Midnight Sun

Everytime before I write a review on a student production, I find myself having to make this disclaimer. I understand that these are bidding talents and I should maintain as an encouraging tone as far as possible. Firefly in the light, however, lands itself in the strange realm between student & professional production. However, when the show started 12 minutes after the stipulated showtime (5 mins being my standard for professional theatre, I knew what level to pitch this at).

I think overall, it was definitely an encouraging piece of work. I saw the amalgamation of efforts by so many people on stage. I think the young Shayna Toh has created something that she should be proud of. 

Which sort of leads me to my biggest contention about the whole production. Shayna sounds like a great song writer - the music she has written were catchy and emotive. I personally thought they captured the essence of the scene quite well. What I cannot comment was her ability as a lyricist. I was trying very hard to listen to the lyrics (I really was) but the acoustics of the arts house did not do it any justice. 

However however, here's where I want to draw the line. As much as I think Shayna has done a good job with the music, she has lost focus as a book writer. I was hoping for so much more from the plot. Certain characters were underdeveloped (e.g. Mother), others almost redundant (i.e. Friends). The character relationship progression between Jake and Wendy happened at lightning speed (from awkward strangers in opening scene to secret dates). I would have wanted to see how "famous" Wendy was before - to be convinced that she would abandon what she had to go to LA. I appreciate Shayna' decision in advancing the plot as quickly as possible without too much expositories but I thought these were fundamental to the plot development to be just omitted like that. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not know of any practitioner who was the book writer- composer -lyricist - musical director of the same show simultaneously. Not yet I'm insinuating that Shayna cannot be the first, but I think as a budding talent, to stretch herself across so many fields was a little dangerous. Surely she was bound to lose focus in certain aspects. 

Though I was add that I liked the ending- I don't agree with it logically or in terms of plot progression, but I liked the treatment. I liked how it ended on a "happy song" against the backdrop of Wendy's words (omitted to prevent spoilers).

But really, I thought her compositions were good. Especially accentuated by Linden Furnell (whom I loved in N2N, last five years). Furnell anchored most of the singing, it was a joy to see him on stage. Rachel Tay was competent as well, though she had a lot lines lost in the crapping acoustics. 

The rest of the ensemble was unfortunately not as outstanding. Chia DeZhong had the unfortunate habit of gesticulating everything - making him a very annoying student (was that intentional - I wouldn't know cos that character was too transient). 

Was it an awesome wonderful production? Probably not. Was it enjoyable? It could have been if better developed. It's one of those rare times which I had actually wanted the show to go on just a bit more. But did I walk out humming the tune of the firefly song? I certainly did. I saw a lot of potential, now it's just to hope that it gets developed into something awesome. And given her talent, I don't see why not. 

Justwatchlah: 3/5
P.s for a singer / performer / songwriter / script writer / musical director / rafflesian, I thought it would have been a lot more impressive / professional if she didn't read her thank you script from a phone. Print it out on a paper if you must. To scroll on a phone and holding it with two hands while juggling the microphone was very uninspiring. 

Ps2. I understand it's the press night but the photographer who kept going on stage to take pictures of Shayna, that was really not respecting the stage. I was admittedly very annoyed with that. 

November 14, 2014

Mamma Mia

First to lay the ground rules: One does not watch a jukebox musical with expectations of a “standard musical”. The charm of Mamma Mia has never been its plot, nor has it been the relevance of the musicals numbers to plot progression. Instead, it is a show celebrating the many classics songs by ABBA, condensed into 2.5 hours of fun and laughter.

The premise of Mamma Mia (for the uninitiated) is an intriguing one. Sophie is getting married and has no idea who her father is. From her mother’s diary, she identifies three potential candidates and invites them to her wedding, confident that she will be able to “know it when she sees him”. The rest of the show revolves around (mostly) the dynamics between Donna (Sophie’s mother) and her old pals, or Donna and one of her ex-lovers.

What really won me over was the quality of the vocals as a whole. Sara Poyzer (Donna Sheridan) delivered so many numbers effortlessly. In addition, she was very precise in her interpretation, capturing the spirit of the numbers very well. It was a joy to hear and see her perform. I was particularly fond of her flustered/confused state, there was an endearing notion about a 40+ year old mother feeling all vulnerable again as her past caught up with her.

Donna’s friends Rosie (Sue Devaney) and Tanya (Geraldine Fitzgerald) stole some thunder too. What the show lacked in plot (see first paragraph about jukebox musical), these two old pals made up for it with their performance. Within a musical number (even if it was not theirs), the two of them were always so energetic and had their own “mini-act”. I found myself listening to the singing but watching what other mischiefs these two ladies were up to. It certainty helped to relieve the plot stagnation – I thought it was a good directorial decision.

Sophie Sheridan (Niamh Perry) blew me over with her voice. She opened the show with her “I have a dream” number, which introduced her sweet vocals to the audience. It was a pity that her character was (ultimately) still a supporting role. I would have loved to her more of her vocals.

The males in the show were competent, but no one stood out as outstanding when compared to the ladies. I did not have any qualms about the male actors, but nothing to rave about though.

What I wished could have been toned down was the Australian accent that occasionally permeates the stage. The sets backdrop was rather underwhelming as well – considering how grandiose the other shows at MBS have been. While I can understand that it might just be an artistic choice, but I could not help but want more resemblance of an island, instead of merely two rotating platforms.

However, as a whole, what I really liked was the energy of the entire 2.5 hours. We watch these shows at the end of a day’s work to wind down and enjoy ourselves. For Mamma Mia, the amount of fervor that the actors had on stage was infectious. I was enthralled by all the dancing and jumping around (yes, all of them), all to add on to the “feel-good” element of the show. Most important of all, I think many audience members had a great time reminiscing the good o’ ABBA songs.

Even for someone like me who is such a sucker for plot development (and blah blah), I was really bought into the show. I think that speaks volume of the professional standard of this production. If you really want something with a plot, wait for the movie-adaptation of “Into the Woods” this Christmas. If you just want to enjoy your evening, or you know damn lot of ABBA songs (even if you think you don’t, you’ll be surprised. I was!), or simply you just want to see what’s an example of a professional musical standard, you should definitely catch this run of Mamma Mia.

Justwatchlah score: 4/5 (for a jukebox musical)

November 1, 2014

HOSSAN-AH! Safe and Secure in His LEONG Arms

Like our true blue Singapore Boy, we are the country that punches above its weight. (Our soldiers don't even have to do chin-ups to be combat fit). Our citizens have been kept safe and secure despite our unique claim to fame as the only country to have fought against independence and still become independent.

With his trademark one-man-many-fa├žade performance, Hossan opens a milestone year (it is the golden jubilee after all) in the life of the island we love.

Our own piano man will give thought to the many artistic influences in his career - from the piano men in Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Jamie Cullum and more, to the TV theme songs of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Let Hossan entertain and put you in the mood to celebrate our funny little mash-up culture!

Wed, 28 Jan - Sun, 1 Feb 2015
Wed - Fri: 8pm
Sat: 4pm & 8pm
Sun: 4pm

Tickets at sistic

October 30, 2014

Pangdemonium 2015 Season Ticket

The Pangdemonium 2015 Season Ticket promises to be the hottest ticket on the theatre calendar. Enjoy up to 25% savings on all three shows in 2015, priority seating and the flexibility to change your show dates, access to the best seats in the house and an exclusive invitation to the annual VIP Party with the shows’ cast and crew members. Get your Season Ticket and be part of the Pangdemonium family today!

2015 Season Shows
-Circle Mirror Transformation

For more details:
hikaru's note: actually hor, i know the inertia involved in getting these season tickets... what if I can't make it? then it will be wasted right? Well... I just saw this on my facebook newsfeed about running a marathon: the miracle isn't that I finished the race. the miracle is that I had the courage to start one. If you buy the season ticket, i think you'll make the effort to catch the shows. And looking at the line-up of shows next season, I think I will end up watching them individually anyway :) particularly looking forward to David Hwang's Chinglish, read the script a few years back and loved it. If it was well received in angmoh land (where i'm sure some of the subtleties of the Chinese-English miscommunication were lost), it will probably be a better show for those of us who understand Chinese.

October 28, 2014

Circle Mirror Transformation by Pangdemonium

What shenanigans do actors get up to behind the scenes? Let’s take a peek…

Beautiful, disillusioned actress Theresa (Nikki Muller), shy divorcee Shultz (Adrian Pang), moody teenager Lauren (Selma Alkaff), and gregarious, gung-ho James (Daniel Jenkins): four imperfect strangers join an Acting Class run by “earth mother” Marty (Neo Swee Lin)…resulting in epic episodes of comedy, and drama of theatrical proportions.

As the fun & games blur into their private lives, this acting class transforms into much more – role-play gets awkwardly personal, jaw-dropping secrets are revealed, wars are waged, won & lost, hearts are quietly broken, and lives are changed forever…

A hilarious and heartwarming exploration of lost souls in search of themselves, Circle Mirror Transformation was voted one of the top ten plays of 2009 by Time Out and the New Yorker.


nhikaru note: there must be something with pangdemonium. why is it that they come up with good shows after good shows (while some other companies have continuous bad streak?!). Anyway, I personally have very high faith in pulitzer prize winning authors. and look at the cast. lovely.

October 25, 2014

Junior Claus by Singapore Repertory Theatre

"I'm Santa's only son. I'm supposed to take over and I don’t even understand how Christmas magic works!"

Junior Claus is the rebellious heir to an immense empire in the North Pole, where elves busily prepare for the biggest day of the year - Christmas. When Santa falls into a deep sleep because the Belief-o-Meter falls to a dangerously low level, Grumpo the greedy elf assumes power as Chief Inventor in Santa’s workshop. After Junior runs away from home, Grumpo attempts to achieve his sinister goal: ruin the Yuletide season forever.

Will Junior return home to save Santa? Can he rekindle the Christmas spirit? Join Junior and his friends, Chipper the elf and Pengy the penguin, as they race against time to bring Christmas back. With upbeat tunes and engaging dialogue, Junior Claus encapsulates the best of the Christmas spirit, making it a festive year-end treat for audiences of all ages!

Fri, 31 Oct - Sun, 14 Dec 2014
Mon - Fri : 10am
Sat & Sun: 11am, 2.30pm