Sunday, 8 November 2015

Ghost the Musical at MasterCard Theatres: A review

This musical has a life on its own.  Adapted from the movie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, the musical was faithful to the plot but made subtle changes to the sequence(eg. The ceramic making scene).  As a musical, the songs sustained the interest of the audience throughout the show.

A selling point of this musical was the special / visual effects, which was rendered effectively and did not overshadow the plot.    For example, after the protagonist Sam was murdered, the scenes depicting his struggle to open the door or pick up things, or the encounter of another ghost on the train, were done well with the execution of lighting and technology.

Performance wise,  the actors playing Sam and Molly were overall competent, but I would expect the actress playing Molly to show more grief when Sam was murdered.  On the other hand, the actors playing the psychic Oda Mae Brown and the baddie Carl Bruner were memorable.

While Ghost the musical may not be a worldwide hit, it is entertaining and enjoyable as it is.  The production standards for this show was good, and audience enjoyed a good evening out at the MasterCard Theatre.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Cirque Du Soleil's TOTEM: A review

A good feeling of familiarity at the Cirque du Soleil performance Totem:

The Big Tent

The beautiful stage

The excited audience.

And of course the acrobatics and the staging.  The giant turtle shell was lifted and the acrobats delivered a precision performance.

One of the crowd favourites were the 5 acrobats on one wheel cycle,

...and the trapeze artists.

While we had the usual comic moments, it tended to drag on a bit.  So it was a weak link for me.  But one could not forget the good musicianship of the show.  Always a pleasure from a Cirque du Soleil production.

It was a good production.  I would prefer the performance to be without the intermission to make it more tight.  But perhaps the organiser need to make some extra revenue from the intermission drinks and the sale of souvenir items.  Recommended.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Seeing Canadian Rockies on VIA Rail Canada

I managed to get some sleep on the train, despite it swaying at times in the night.  Woke up early for breakfast at 6:30 am, and there were already passengers earlier than me.  The breakfast selection was good and I was seated with other passengers.

One reason for waking up early was to grab a seat at the viewing gallery.  While it was an ideal space to viewing the scenery, the curved glass panels did not allow for good photographs.

It was misty on that morning and the view was restricted.  For that day, the scenery got better from 10 am onward.

So, meantime..........  SHOWER!!!

Friday, 23 October 2015

On board the VIA Rail Canada for the Rockies

In early October, I took a 2-day Canadian Rockies train journey from Vancouver, British Columbia to Jasper.  Pacific Central Station was the boarding point.  This trip was made possible by VIA Rail Canada.

Checking in was fast and efficient.  There was a left luggage service at the counter if you decided to leave your bags a day earlier, for a fee.   Due to space in the cabin /train, an overnight bag would be recommended.

And one more A&W root beer float at the station for the road.  A very Singaporean obsession.

For certain categories of passengers, you could wait at the lounge, where you could grab a free coffee and chat with fellow travelers.

Time for boarding,,,,

Monday, 10 August 2015

SAFA 2015: Nanyang the Musical

First show for me at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2015 proper.  While the creator claimed it had its inspiration from the Singaporean artists who went to Bali and later inspired the "Nanyang" style of painting, not much "art", or even Singapore was featured in this performance.   What we saw on stage was relationships that stretched from Shanghai, Paris and Bali, without much plot development.

The stronger element was the music numbers by lyricist Xiao Han and composer Eric Ng, arranged by Goh Kheng Long. A few songs did have popular appeal.

Of the cast, Roy Huang (as Chen Kang) had a good singing voice and Trev Neo put up a competent job as the teacher Zhang Wen.   Most were handicapped by the weak script.  Overall not a good start to SIFA 2015.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Hari Raya Lightup 2015 at Geylang Serai

How time flies, Ramadan came and gone.  Last Wednesday, I made a quick visit to Geylang Serai to look at the street decorations along Changi Road and Sims Avenue.

It was crowded on the road and along the pavements as many were doing last minute shopping.  The lights were bright but somehow they looked similar to last year's.  Hopefully we could new lighting design next year.

And the stores were doing brisk business....

See Hari Raya Lightup 2014Hari Raya Lightup 2011

Monday, 20 July 2015

From SG50 Sing-Along to Deng Zhi Hao 邓志浩 concert

On 2 consecutive Saturdays, I attended 2 Chinese music concerts.

As the name suggested, SG50 Sing-Along was a massive karaoke session featuring mainly Chinese songs over the past few decades, led by UFM radio presenters.   The attractive part of this concert, to me, was watching veteran singers like Huang Qing Yuan黄清元, Zhuang Xue Fang 庄雪芳, Maggie Teng 邓妙华performed for the first time, in addition to Roy Li Fei Hui and Jimmy Ye.  It's a pity that most of them only performed one song - could they also lead in some singalong?

The selection of songs was rather mish-mash: ranging from foreign folk songs, local and foreign pop hits, our campaign and Sing Singapore songs.  As a SG50 event, maybe a purely local-composition evening?  We definitely have enough local hits to sustain the whole evening.

The anti-climax part of the concert would be the singing by the various company bosses.  Knowing the fact that they were not professional singers, there would be a need to enhance the presentation of these items.

From a 10,000 seating capacity event to a 100 only intimate concert,  Taiwanese singer Deng Zhi Hao charmed the audience at Blackearth Museum in Joo Chiat on 18 July.  Catching his performance again after 20 years, Deng Zhi Hao still sounded as good as he was at his concert at Thian Hock Kheng Temple.  He was still as chatty as before, and this time round, he shared with audience the secret of getting old.

He sounded good with his acoustic set, and not those with accompanied orchestra track.

The concert also featured guest singer, local Xinyao musician Wong Hong Mok. Both of them blended well and they received warm applause from the audience.

An enjoyable concert overall.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Singin’ in the Rain Review


This is a good staging of the musical, based on the 1952 movie  made famous by Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.  Set in 1927, it tells the story of the transition of the movie industry moving from "silent" to "talkies".   This old school musical feature tunes such as Good Morning, Make ‘em Laugh, Moses Supposes and of course the famous dance sequence Singin’ in the Rain.

Production wise, the set design, the costume and the Singing' in the Rain sequence were of high standard.  The staging of certain scenes, in particular the making of the "talkies", were quite funny.

Duane Alexander played the lead role of Don Lockwood, the silent movie star.  While he played the part admirably, he lacked the aura of a movie star for the role. Bethany Dickson sang well in her role of chorus girl Kathy Selden, the love interest of Don Lockwood and a star in making.  Taryn-Lee Hudson shone as Lina Lamont, the silent movie actress who had a shrieking voice.   While she was the "villain" in the story, audience enjoyed the comic moments by her.

Taking the production as a whole, Singin' in the Rain is an entertaining production.  While the storyline may be a bit dated to the contemporary audience, the show has enough substance and spectacle to capture our interest and imagination.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

GoLi - Bringing theatre to the community

A large goli-shaped (marble) structure greeted me when I arrived at the field next to NEX shopping mall on 4 July.  This was the community / forum theatre project initiated by Singapore theatre company Drama Box to bring theatre to the community.  The event also featured various community groups outside the performing area to promote their cause.  

A sizeable crowd, consisting of mostly young people (in the arts?), attended the first presentation of the evening, Real Voices Real Lives by UK company Mind The Gap.  The forum theatre piece explored the society's treatment of people with learning difficulties, featuring actors with the same challenges.  Using a nursery rhyme as a starting, it told the story of these people being abused in public, be it on the bus or by ill-intent people.  The presentation did encourage audience to step up and take on the role of "spect-actors", replaying and changing the situation faced by the protagonists in the initial situation.   While the 3 actors may not be the best in terms of acting, they brought a sense of reality to this presentation.

Queued up for the next presentation, One Employee Two Bosses by Centre for Applied Theatre from Taiwan.  This play touched on labour issues, in particular sub-contract workers.  It was a more polished production in terms of acting and technical aspects, but the scenario took a long time to develop.  Imagine watching a Taiwan soap opera.  There were re-enactment and discussions, but overall it did not engage me that much.

Overall, it was a good initiative by Drama Box in bringing theatre to the community, though I am not sure the presentation of forum theatre would help build up the audience base.  However, I believe that the audience would leave the shows with a better understanding of the issues faced by certain segments of the society.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

SEA GAMES - experience the competitions live!

The 28th SEA Games has ended and Singapore has done incredibly well.  I managed to attend a few live events and had good memories of them....

At the Singapore Expo, wushu (Chinese martial arts) competition

And at the Singapore Indoor Stadium....

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Opening Ceremony of the 28th South East Asian Games in Singapore

There was huge anticipation for the opening ceremony of the 28th SEA Games on 5 June 2015 at the new National Stadium.  Singapore was supposed to host the Games in 2013 but the Sports Hub was not ready then.  Well, better late than never.  The photo below showed the combined band performance during the pre-event segment.

The Big Singapore Welcome opened the Ceremony proper.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Pages on Malaysia

This is the page listing all my blog entries on Malaysia.  Will update the pages soon,

Kuala Lumpur

Sipping coffee and admiring the latte foam art at Cofee Amo


2012 Trip

Settling down in hotel on Day 1.  Following day, having breakfast at Ah Lim Birthday Noodle and visited Dr Sun Yat Sen Memorial.  In the afternoon, a trip up the Penang Hill and strolled in the Monkey Cup Garden.   Back in Penang town, cooling down with Joez Coconut.

Day 3, breakfast and lunch at  Midland Cafe and Spring Chamber @ the Sun.  After filling up my stomach, a visit to the famous Kok Lok Shi (Temple) and tasted the Air Itam Laksa by the foot of the temple.    Back in town, tried the char kuey teow stall at Lorong Selamat and moved into Hotel Chulia Heritage (Read more).    Later, Penang Old Town by night

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Trip to Guilin, Guangxi Province China

From 11 to 18 April, I took a trip to Guangxi Province, concentrating on the cities of Guilin and Yangshuo. Below was my itinerary.

Day 1:   Morning flight from Singapore to Guilin city, taking an airport bus to Yangshuo.  Staying at Durian Space (榴莲间) away from West Street.  In the late afternoon, had a coffee break at Durian Space Cafe (榴莲咖啡座) opened by the inn keeper.  Later took a stroll along West Street (阳朔西街) and had dinner at Chun Ji Restaurant (椿记烧鹅) nearby.  Caught the evening performance of Impressions of Liu San Jie (印象刘三姐) (Yangshuo Day 1)

Day 2:  In the morning, took a bamboo raft ride along the Yulong River  (遇龙江).  Back in Yangshuo,  tasted beer flavoured fish (啤酒鱼), visited Yangshuo Park (阳朔公园), and walking the West Street.  (Yangshuo Day 2)

Taking it easy in Guilin City: Banyan Lake area & Old South Gate

It was our last full touring day in Guilin and we decided to take it nice and easy.  A late breakfast at Shi Ji Noodle Shop along Jie Fang West Road, one of the old eateries in the city (正宗石记老字号米粉店,桂林秀峰区解放西路).

The noodle cost around Y7 per bowl and you pay extra for items like eggs or bean curd.  I prefer this stall to Sou Zi Mi Fen (瘦子米粉) in Yangshuo (see my earlier post), but both are good quality to start with.

Some window shopping later, we navigated toward the Banyan Lake area (榕湖).  As you can see, the city scenery is concentrated around the lake area.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Long Ji Rice Terrace in April (Guangxi Province, China)

I decided to do a day trip to Long Ji (Dragon Bone) Rice Terrace as there wasn't much left to explore in Guilin city.  It was also good opportunity to prepare for a return in future (if any).  It was a 2 hour journey to the main village, from there, another 40 minutes to our destination Da YaoZhai  (大瑶寨)Village.

Lunch upon arrival.....

Lunch was delicious and interesting: bamboo rice, bamboo chicken and salted meat.  It cost Y150 for 2 persons.

We were given tickets to the cable car and were on our own for the trip.  It was a comfortable ride to the top and the good views were good.

The rice terrace would be flooded a few days after our trip and it was unfortunate that we would miss the beautiful sight.  But the sight of the massive rice terrace was still rewarding....