October 19, 2014

FIREFLY IN THE LIGHT—A NEW MUSICAL

Book by Shayna Toh. Music and Lyrics by Shayna Toh.
Directed by Tabitha Loh.
Firefly In The Light, a new pop musical, tells the story of Wendy, a beautiful and talented teenage school- girl, who knows she is destined for great things. In her shadow, is her childhood "friend", Jake, unassuming and insecure – who (finally) finds his strength in Wendy. Beckoned by the brightness of a future in a city thousands of miles away, Wendy leaves her small hometown to follow her dreams.
A protective mother, her elusive husband in the entertainment business, a shrewd artist manager, amidst adoring friends and fans alike- all wittingly or unwittingly direct the destinies of Wendy and Jake as they search for themselves, love and success, finding themselves treading on similar grounds but taking very different paths, not once but twice in their young lives.
With a collection of freshly minted songs ranging from rambunctious up-tempo pieces to soft ballads, this Musical, to be staged in the historic Chamber of The Arts House, promises the audience an intimate experience with the young, budding cast and musicians as they spin this tale of youthful hopes, discoveries and pain into an ending. 
Shayna Toh, a seventeen-year old Junior College student, has been studying and composing music since she was six. With a love for theatre as well as pop music, she is also an avid writer, having had several stories published since 2008 and in 2013, a children’s book (on urban nature deficit) published. Shayna made her first foray into the theatre scene at eleven, in 2008, when her script “Where Your Dream Takes You” directed by Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) Director, Michael Corbidge, was performed by actors from SRT and MediaCorp at the DBS Arts Centre.
“Firefly in the Light” is Shayna’s debut full-length pop musical.
Tabitha Loh, twenty-two, was first trained at ten, under The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art Speech and Drama Program. Completing a year under LASALLE’s Performing Arts Foundation Course and a degree in Theatre and Performance, Tabitha has worked on assistant directorships including Peter Handke’s, Kaspar (2011) with director Natalie Hennedige, Fences (2012) an original opera by Dr John Sharpley and Robert Yeo, directed by Chandran K Lingam. She directed M. Lee’s Serangoon Sunset (2012) presented at the APB Drama Schools Festival, Taiwan.

TANGGANG – THE UNFILIAL SON



Presented by A.D.I Concept

A.D.I Concept will be presenting its first main season show, titled, Tanggang – The Unfilial Son is based on a famous Malay folktale that tells the story of a young man in a small fishing village in Singapore, who was turned to stone due to his insolence.


The show was conceptualised with the intention of prolonging the life of Malay folktales against the tide of modernization, in which western cultures and fairy tales are very much preferred.


Tanggang – The Unfilial Son presents deep rooted values and themes from the past that are, as what the Malays would say— “tak lekang dek panas, tak usang dek hujan”, which means that they never get old or outdated. These values remain relevant even to today’s context.

Tanggang – The Unfilial Son features experienced casts, Adi Jamaludin, 32, Nur Khairiyah Ramli, 27, as well as a new comer into the theatre scene, Faizal Masjudi, 27.


Adi, who was last seen in Army Daze: The Musical in 2013, believes that theatre is one of the best way in preserving the Malay culture. He also cited that some of the more memorable folktales are the ones that have been brought to life either on stage or film.


To date, Tanggang has been staged once 20 years ago under the direction of Lut Ali and presented by Teater Ekamatra. It was then brought back to life in 2002 in the form of a dance, presented NUS Ilsa Tari. It has also been adapted into a film in 1961. 


One of the many challenges faced by the three actors was figuring a way to make it appealing to the younger crowds who might not have been exposed to Asian folktales.


To appeal to the younger crowds, the trio have been busy filming several teasers and trailers to be uploaded on the different social media, as part of their marketing campaigns.


The trio are hopeful that the show will strike a chord with the audience, regardless of age, culture or religious background.

The show will run from 13 November to 15 November 2014 and will be staged at The Arts House, Play Den. It will be staged mainly in Malay and English.

https://www.theartshouse.com.sg/Programmes/EventPage.aspx?EventID=3739

But Now We See by Raffles Hall Musical Production



Like many practitioners today, I owe my budding interest in theatre from the student productions. Within a blink of the eye, it dawned upon me that it has been many years since I last participated in one. Watching the students of Raffles Hall indulge themselves onstage, it made me somewhat envious. The students have created for themselves an irreplaceable memory, which I am sure they will hold dear to their hearts for a very long time.

When watching student productions, I constantly remind myself to take a more encouraging approach. These students are amateur and had nothing but passion and the desire to tell a story. What I saw was definitely a testimony to their efforts. The elaborate costumes and set design reflected clearly the immense number of man-hours spent on them. I particularly took an interest in the sequin school uniform, which achieved its effect of making the students very juvenile (as demanded by the script).

Unfortunately I have to tell the truth and play the role of the evil critic. The conduct of the show was grounded and earnest but there were several points which did not agree with me.

My biggest contention was the plot. Everything in the plot was overly convenient. The pill could grant the one who consumed it 15 hours of mind-control power and it required 15 years to regenerate? The mind-control ability was so incongruous to the plot that it appeared to be just an afterthought inserted in order to solve the crisis at the end (albeit anti-climatically). Fifteen years was chosen so that they could drag the pursuit of the pill over 4 acts, and give enough time for Thebeson to grow up and (of course) join the school. Furthermore, without missing a beat, the school was un-coincidentally ran by Nolan. The tension happened when Aron found out Thebeson could potentially see color was dismissed too easily with a two-second pause and a random outburst into “Black and White”.

The illogicalities of the script made it quite hard for me to believe the story. The most memorable one had to be Nolan and Aron talking about Thebeson potentially having the gift, within earshot of Thebeson. How thin were the walls in the school? Furthermore, Thebeson, although looking appropriately flabbergasted when he overhead the conversation, did not do anything about it. My other favorite moment was between Thebeson and Aron in the basement. Thebeson told Cyrus that he was very scared, that he did not know what was happening to his classmates and they all turned blind. Then he confessed to Cyrus about the conversation he overheard between Nolan and Aron about their plan. Really? And he couldn’t put two and two together? Thebeson sounded a rathe daft to me at that moment. (And why was Thebeson chained up in the basement – a place so accessible that even the janitor could simply just walked in upon? Even though Aron had this nagging suspicion that Thebeson could be related to Cyrus? I guess you could always say that she did not dare to accuse Nolan’s wife after his outburst.)

The significances of a few things were not explained as well:
1.     Mother & Cassandra’s scenes. Especially the one in the Nether worlds. They didn’t help to develop the plot right?
2.     What was so powerful about the pill other than 15 hours of mind control and ability to see color? How does that help one to take over the world?
3.     What’s the significance of the ability to see color?
4.     Why does Nolan want to take over the world? Why does Aron want to help him?
5.     What was the use of the student during the Spell Song who was fumbling with the spells? So that they could pin the blame of “spell that went wrong” on the student, thus abdicating Nolan and Aron of any suspicion?
6.     Surely 1500 students going blind would have a larger social uproar, well at least definitely larger than Thebeson mentioning in passing to Cyrus, “It’s all over the news!” I didn’t see the repercussions of blinding 1500 sutdents on stage.
7.     Sorry to belabor this point, but really… Cassandra? How was she powerful? Why was she powerful? What has she done? Its perhaps not important to explain all these if she was simply an ominous character spoken of (but not shown) in the show. However, if she was going to appear, I would want to see her powers/her reign/her character to understand the need for the Curse of Cassandra. Instead, she was no different from a mopey mother, lamenting that she did not bring up her children well. Hmm..

Well… these were some thoughts that ran through my mind as I watched the show. I suspect that there might have been a rush in the preparations and that despite these problems (which I am sure the production team is well aware of), they had to put the pieces together to make the deadline. Unlike professional theatre where an idea can be tossed around for 10 years (most musicals actually), it was probably a good idea for the students of Raffles Hall to stage the show while they were still students.
Perhaps two suggestions that I could make for next time would be firstly, aim for a simpler earnest storyline, which will conveniently avoid the logic gaps this show made and secondly, involve more people (professional or otherwise) during the embryological stages of the script so that these scripting problems can be rooted out first. I understand the inertia of changing the script once a critical mass of people (e.g. composers, choreographers) have put in their corresponding efforts. Really, it is not an easy task for students to put up a show. I think the students should be proud of themselves nonetheless.

For the performers, a few were rather pitchy and sometimes off beat. But as a whole, I could tell that they gave their best on stage and for me, watching the students beam on stage during curtain call – proud to know that they have done something special – that look of happiness is the most endearing moment for the audience.

If I am still invited next year, I will be most willing to support the students of Raffles Hall again.

Checkpoint Theatre presents The Way We Go





The Way We Go follows Agatha Mao, former principal of the Convent of Our Lady of Lourdes, as she experiences the greatest loves of her life: Edmund, her intellectual partner, and Violet, her best friend. Sprawling over 12 years, this tender story of love and friendship between outsiders also brings into relief the fraught relationship of former students Lee and Gillian, who come to ask the same questions as their elders: What are the costs of love? Why do people need each other? What’s at stake when we reach out? 

Directed by Claire Wong, The Way We Go is a sensitive meditation on growing up and growing old. It looks at love in places where we least seek it; the love for learning, life, and language; the love between friends and kindred spirits. 

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Performance/Ticketing Details 
Dates/Times: 
Thu 20 Nov – Sat 29 Nov 2014, 8pm 
3pm matinee on Sat and Sun 
Venue: SOTA Studio Theatre 
Duration: 1 hr 30 min without intermission 
Ticket Price: $35 (excludes SISTIC booking fee) 
Ticketing Agent: SISTIC – www.sistic.com.sg or Hotline 6348 5555 
Concession: Early Bird Promotion from 5 Sept to 28 Sept – 10% off; 
OCBC Arts Platinum Card Promotion (4 tickets or more) – 20% off from 5 Sept to 28 Sept; 15% off from 29 Sept; 
OCBC Cards, PAssion Card, and SAFRA Members – 15% off from 5 Sept to 28 Sept; 10% off from 29 Sept; 
Students, Senior Citizens, and NSF – 15% off; 
Group Bookings (20 tickets or more) – 20% off.

For more information, visit: www.checkpoint-theatre.org

October 18, 2014

Hatch Theatrics presents LOCKDOWN


Written By: Raimi Liandy Safari

Starring: Shida Mahadi, Farez Najid, Ziyad Bagharib & Andy Yew

Venue: The Substation Theatre

Date: 28 - 29 November 2014

Time: 28 November (8pm) 29 November (3pm) / (8pm)

Admission: $20/$15 (concession) From the Substation Box Office.

Call to reserve tickets at 63377800 or boxoffice@substation.org


 
The play unravels in the setting of a normal counselling room in a school with a teacher waiting for the arrival of three very important guests. On that very special day, the teacher will be confronted with honesty and truth, and in the very fragile moment of a lockdown due to an unfortunate school fire, Ms Nora is stranded and will have to accept the possibility that she is the only individual left that needs to confront certain realities of the teaching fraternity - a reality that the students have so willingly accepted in their daily course as students. And in that fragile moment, will the teacher be able to remain a teacher? Or will the teacher proves herself to be a terrible student?

 

ADI CONCEPT presents TANGGANG The Unfilial Son

 
Sypnosis

Tanggang, born an ordinary man

Living in the hidden corner of a village

He worked hard through his waking hours

To look after his beloved mother.

Then came along one big ship

Si Tanggang slaved himself away on it

He was then duly rewarded

With a marriage to a beautiful princess

It’s been awhile since he’s been home

His ship sailed by the familiar harbour

The sight of Tanggang on the luxurious ship

Became news that reached his mother

Upon hearing the return of her son

The mother brought along roasted bananas

In her heart she won’t want another separation

Because the longing in her heart was beyond comprehensible.

But he denied any association with her

Si Tanggang didn’t even want to be approached

His mother was shouted at and chased away

The sorrow in her heart was beyond description

Seeing the way her son reacted,

The mother’s heart was totally crushed

She raised her hand to God almighty

The son she loved was turned to stone.

This popular Malay folklore talks about the importance of filial piety, healthy relationships in a family, and social grace which is lacking in today’s society.

3 friends embark on a journey in discovering the untold and the hidden stories about Tanggang. Could they successfully deconstruct the folklore that has stood against the tide of modernization? Will they be able to successfully stage their findings in a manner that could connect to the audience of today?

Tanggang – The Unfilial Son presents deep rooted values and themes from the past that are still applicable to the present, despite cultural and sociological developments. Isn’t it ironic that we are living in an era where technology can connect us easily but we still remain disconnected - Especially to people that matters, like our mothers.

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About the opening acts for Tanggang: The Unfilial son

The following schools will also be collaborating with A.D.I concept to put up an opening act for Tanggang: the Unfilial Son;
Teck Whye Primary School

Rivervale Primary School

Bukit Panjang Government High School.

Jurong West Primary School


This allows students from the drama clubs to have some form of performing experience in a proper theatre venue without having the school to fork out for any expenses for venues. The opening act will consist of 15 minutes performance based on a well-known folklores/ folktales.

Each school will be given their own slots for each performance day of Tanggang: The Unfilial Son.


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13 - 15 November 2014
Playden, The Arts House
Tickets at $25

For more information, visit tanggang.adiconceptsg.com
 

October 5, 2014

Roasted - Frozen in Singapore by Sight Lines Productions



Ashamed to say, this was my virgin experience at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. Overall, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the children in the audience and how strongly they reacted to the villain's ploy.

Nothing much to shout about the storyline, this was meant to be a parody of sisters' island and Frozen. No matter how simple the plot was, it served its purpose as a jukebox musical (if you will), in that it strung the songs from Frozen and Wicked together.

I known I've mentioned this name twice (once in Wedding Singer, the other in Women in Asia) but I need to give a shout out to Kimberly Chan. Every time this girl opened her mouth to sing, I couldn't help but give her my full attention. Very few young actresses these days have such an emotive voice and Kimberly really added so much live and joy to this show. It was good that the show started with her solo ("Do you want to go fishing?"), followed by a duet ("Love is an Open Sea"). Her sweet and strong vocals caught the attention of many passer-bys at the outdoor theatre, who stopped to take a peak at the owner of the wonderful voice. Fortunately, Kimberly had the additional good fortune of playing the spastic puppet to Utama - showcasing her comedic chops. Watch this girl.

Unfortunately, Samantha Kwok was not as impressive on comparison. She started really shaky in her duet with Kimberly and kept having pacing & pitching issues. Fortunately, she improved during her solos (including the much-awaited Let It/Her Go). Andrew Marko played a supporting role to the sisters. While his vocals were not too bad, his character (despite the additional introduction way at the beginning) was awfully bland. Not that I expected a lot out of this villain character in a 30 minute children skit, but it was undeniable that there was nothing to watch for.

In all, it was 30 minutes of good fun, especially watching how the children in the audience enjoy themselves. Was it a fantastic production? Probably not. But was it worth the time? Certainly so. If not anything, catch it for Kimberly Chan.