Sunday, 29 December 2013

Local Chinese Opera groups put up good showing in December

Er Woo Amateur Musical & Dramatic Association 馀娱儒乐社 celebrated its 101st Anniversary with the performance Xi Pei Yuan Yang 喜配鸳鸯 at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre.  It was a light-hearted comedy where the tight script is suitable for the modern audience.

The cast put up a good performance:  Lim Siew Hong 林秀凤 played the role of widow Tian Gui Xiang 田桂香 with conviction.   Shen Jun Xiang 沈俊祥 played the money-seeking Cai Lao Mi 蔡老咪 and he had good comic- timing on stage. He was aptly supported by Yang Yu Ying 杨玉莹 and Chen Wei Zhen 陈美珍, who played his daughters. 

The first half of the performance was a bit slow moving, but the pace picked up in the second half, especially when the character Ma Yuan Wai 马员外 , whom Cai Lao Mi tried to marry his daughter to, was introduced. Yang Rui Xiang 杨瑞祥 portrayed this character with hilarious results.

This is a commendable effort by Er Woo Amateur Musical & Dramatic Association.

Tian Yun Youth Kaleidoscope was a platform by Tian Yun Beijing Opera Society

Friday, 20 December 2013

Notre Dame de Paris: Strong vocals and beautiful choreography

The last musical to be staged this year in Singapore, Notre Dame de Paris was a good curtain closer for this genre.  Based on the story of Hunchback of Notre Dame, this musical is more a Cirque-du-Soleil type of performance - good choreography, nice melodies, good singing and of course good acrobatic performances. The storyline takes a backseat as the creative must have assumed that the audience know the story well.

What I enjoyed about this production was the quality of singing. The producers have selected performers who were in the rock genre and these singers delivered a song that were different from a typical musical performance.   Matt Laurent (right), a recording artist with 3 solo albums, played and sang the role of Quasimodo

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Esplanade Concert Hall

Estonia is known as a country of singers.   Although I have visited this country before, I never had the opportunity to attend a choir performance.  Thus it was a good occasion to attend the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir held at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 13 Dec.

The choir, conducted by founder Tonu Kaljuste, presented sacred music by Bach, Brahms, Part for the first part of the concert.  The second half consisted of secular music,  with works by Claude Debussy and Estonian composer Veljo Tormis.  I found the last piece by Tormis, Raua needmine (Curse upon Iron), interesting as it was a contemporary piece with a folk element.  The shamanic drum was used by Kaljuste to provide rhythm to the singers and also added some mystic element into the piece.

A well balanced programme that pleased the general audience and serious music lovers.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hunchback of Notre Dame comes to Marina Bay Sands

Fans of the Hunchback of Notre Dame story would be in for a treat this coming December as the musical Notre Dame de Paris would be opening at Mastercard Theatres from 17 December.  Performed for the first time in Singapore in English this musical tells the story of Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Esmeralda the Gypsy girl, in one of the most great love stories in history. 

Faithful to Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre Dame de Paris, the musical tells the story of the unfortunate Cathedral Bell Ringer Quasimodo's hopeless devotion for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda.Quasimodo had to compete with the untruthful soldier Phoebus and the priest Frollo, torn between his faith to God, for Esmeralda’s love. 

The musical is created by lyricist Luc Plamondon and composer Richard Cocciante, whom have both won numerous awards for their work and is directed by Gilles Maheu.  The English lyrics were written by Will Jennings, Oscar-winner for “My heart Will Go On” from the smash-hit film Titanic.

It seems that Mastercard Theatres are favourite hunting grounds for phantoms and invisible people.

Tue- Frid 8:00pm
Sat & Sun 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Tickets from $55 (excludes the booking Fee of SGD$3 per ticket)
BY PHONE:   +65 6688 8826
Marina Bay Sands Box Offices (Museum, Theatres, SkyPark, Retail Mall and Hotel Tower 1 and 3 Lobby). For more information please log onto -

See Review of Notre Dame de Paris

See also upcoming show at Mastercard Theatres : Hi-5

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Passages Contemporary Season and The Nutcracker by the Singapore Dance Theatre

Passages Contemporary Season is a choreography workshop and presentation project by the Singapore Dance Theatre.   This 4th edition featured new works by new choreographers Cici Chen, Jereh Leong, Timothy Coleman and Max Chan, under the guidance of Artistic Director Janek Schergen.

Both Cici Chen's and Jereh Leong's works

CONTACT - Contemporary Dance Festival

The 4th edition of CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival was held in November 2013.  It was organised by T.H.E Dance Company.

T.H.E Dance Company opened the festival at the Esplanade Theatre Studio with a new piece Mr. Sign by its resident choreographer Kim Jae Duk.  According to the programme, Mr Sign "examines the individual's space in a hierarchical society" and "questions if communication is indeed important to humans".  Kim Jae Duk's choreography was strong and he made full use of the competent dancers.  This piece featured spoken texts which the dancers surprisingly delivered well. A memorable piece to start the Festival.

Another event was Accents of Southeast Asia held at the Goodman Arts Centre on 3 Dec.  A short programme featuring 3 dance items. Vietnamese Ngo Thanh Phuong's Eighteen was about Vietnamese women who wants to break out of the traditional family culture.   A straight forward piece, and rather short.  Malaysian James Kan's Fragment was about broken soul.  It would be interesting to see the original 80-minute version as the version staged here was too brief.  Goh Shou Yi from Singapore presented By You in This Instance/ Mean Me.  It had the most "dance" movement and also received a lot of support from the audience.

AFX - Asian Festivals Exchange was a platform to link with various festivals.  This year's edition featured groups from Seoul Dance Collection, Guangdong Festival and Yokohama Dance Collection.  Good effort from all of them but I did not have a favourite.  It was probably watching too many dance programmes within such as short period..

Contemporary dance companies gathered for DiverCity

Divercity is a platform to showcase Singapore contemporary dance.  This year's edition, held in conjunction with the Contact Contemporary Dance Festival 2013, featured 4 dance groups.

Frontier Danceland took the stage first.  Christina Chan's Fat Room was how a "framework affects how they (individuals) interact with the space and each other".  The dancers were in constant pendulum-like motion.  An interesting concept with a good soundscape, I felt however it could be shortened by 5 minutes.

Kavitha Krishnan was the choreographer for Maya Dance Theatre's Quicksiliver V2.   The dance juxtaposed contemporary dance and bharatha natyam dance in quick succession, supported by good lighting design.  The dance is beautiful to look at, without a strong narration.

Re:Dance Theatre featured Albert Tiong's Bed.  As the name suggests, we had dancers rolling on the bed and talked about bed-related activities.  I liked the choreography, but wondered if it was necessary to have so much spoken texts.

Dimo Kirilov choreographed Collisions for T.H.E Dance Company, a piece that explored human interactions.  The more matured item of the 4 presented, it allowed the dancers to showcase their skills.  The piece was beautifully lit.

A good opportunity to catch the major Singapore contemporary dance companies at one go.  It was an enjoyable performance, a pity that attendance at the matinee show was not full house.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

That Fateful Night 那年那夜那些人

Four persons were arrested and locked up in prison supposedly under the Operations Coldstore.  While they were in custody, they encountered a spirit who was once a Singapore Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Volunteer Army (Dalfource).  Dialogues between the 2 parties ensued.   This is the synopsis of the production That Fateful Night by Singapore I-Lien Drama Society 新加坡艺联剧团 .

Playwrights Koh Teng Liang 许声亮 and Wu Zhi Wei 巫志威 tried to highlight these 2 events and also the struggles of these people.   However, a lot of the sensitive issues of Operation Coldstore were not mentioned, thus making this play a water-down story.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Hi-5 returns to Singapore with new friends Mary and Ainsley

Children's favourite Australian musical band Hi-5 will be making a visit to Singapore from 20-22 December at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands.  This year, the group will present “Hi-5 House Party”, set in the backyard, which will have young audiences dancing in the aisles.

This new show will feature Stevie, Lauren, Dayen and the 2 latest Hi-5 friends Mary and Ainsley. Children will experience a dance party extravaganza with lots of music and party games and non-stop dancing. 

Songs which will be performed at the party:

  1. Come on In (new in Hi-5 House Series 1)
  2. Ready or Not
  3. Move Your Body
  4. Dance with the Dinosaurs (new in Hi-5 House Series 1)
  5. So Many Animals
  6. Wish Upon a Star
  7. LOVE
  8. Making Music
  9. Wonderful (Encore)

Can you name this Hi-5 friend?

BY PHONE:   +65 6688 8826
IN PERSON AT:   Marina Bay Sands Box Offices (Museum, Theatres, SkyPark, Retail Mall and Hotel Tower 1 and 3 Lobby). For more information please log onto -

(Photo credits: Base Entertainment)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Citizen Pig: Singaporeans or not, we were victims of rental scams

The Finger Players' latest production Citizen Pig looked at how locals and foreigners fell prey to unscrupulous landlords in the rental market.  Based on real life experiences of co-directors and playwrights Oliver Chong and Liu Xiaoyi, the play re-examined the effectiveness of our rental laws and the helplessness of ordinary people.

The script by Oliver Chong and Liuyi were tight and funny at times. However, it did not rise above the narration of the incidents faced by them.  In the story, both Singaporeans and foreigners were being exploited, but could it be due to naivety on their part?