Thursday, 31 October 2013

Atomic Jaya - still radioactive after all these years

This was my third time watching Atomic Jaya - the first being over a decade ago.   For this run, Claire Wong and Karen Tan played multiple characters in the story where Malaysia was planning to build an atomic bomb.  Scientist Mary Yuen was recruited by General Zulkifli for this project and things went astray...

Huzir Sulaiman's script was tight and funny, and both actresses delivered the lines with good chemistry and timing.  In certain scenes, both actressess played the same character at the same time, which is different from past stagings.   The set was beautifully constructed by Wong Chee Wai.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Name change, and Nam Hwa Opera still delivers a good performance in Dream of Xiaozhuang

The staging of Dream of Xiaozhuang 孝庄梦 was to commemorate 3 events: the 50th anniversary of the opera troupe, a change of name from Nan Hwa Amateur Musical and Dramatic Association, and the company's move to its new premise at Aliwal Arts Centre.

After a brief awards and opening ceremony, the performance commenced. The Dream of Xiaozhuang is about Dowager Xiaozhuang who proposed marriage to her brother-in-law Duo Er Gun so as to secure her position in the palace, and for her young Emperor son.  However, she faced oppositions from the court and her son Shun Zhi.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Verdi Gala review: Singapore Lyric Opera delivers

Fresh from its recent staging of  La Traviata, the Singapore Lyric Opera staged a concert in celebration of Giuseppe Verdi's bicentenary celebration.  The concert started with Conductor Darrell Ang giving a good introduction on the life of Verdi.

The concert featured 4 soloists and the SLO chorus.  Anna Koor started the evening well with Oh, dischuiso e il Firmamento from Nabucco. However there seemed to be some

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Seniors put up a good show for Faces (Phases) of Love

A production put up by seniors that was held at the Marine Parade Theatrette.  The performance consisted of 4 short plays or skits.

The first, Ageless Idol, explored the behind the scenes of a talent competition.   It did showcase the singing talents of the actors but the pace of performance was rather draggy.   Joe Moreira has a good voice.  Mahjong had a more coherent storyline and actors did hold the performance together.  Jacky Cheah shone as the joss stick seller in Qing Ming.  Ahmad Ali Khan and Jyoti Verma were convincing as a couple in Ocean.

While this was not the most polished production, the actors did put in good effort. Artistic Director Judy Ngo managed to pull through this production with the actors and an easy script.  I hope that Ageless Theatre would continue its mission of staging works by seniors, for seniors.

Rian: Fabulous Beast makes dance a pleasure to watch (Dance Review)

It is good seeing dancers having fun on stage, as shown by dancers in the production Rian, meaning "mark" or "trace" in Irish.  Rian was by Irish dance company Fabulous Beast and presented under the Esplanade Dance Festival.

Director and choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan infused folk dance elements into this piece, and the 8 dancers, none of them from Ireland and from diverse dance backgrounds, performed to the music by Liam O Maonlai, who is aso the music director for this production.

The dancers were accompanied by 5 traditional music players  These musicians were also integrated into the piece, where they were put onto the centre stage and also involved in some dance segments.  In this way, the musicians also became part of the dance piece, which in this respect I think Keegan-Dolan did a good job

While earlier reviews found the 2-hour duration of performance long, I did not feel it that much. Possibly the creators had trimmed it to slightly over 1.5 hours for the Singapore run?

The mood of this piece was fun and the audience felt it.  At the end of the performance, the performers deserved a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Phantom of the Opera lead actor returns for concert at Marine Bay Sands

BASE Entertainment Asia proudly presents 2 Broadway stars performing the best of Broadway classics in an all new show called The Phantom Unmasked for 2 nights only on 1 & 2 November at the Mastercard Theatres Marina Bay Sands. Tickets are now on sale.

Spend an enchantingly up close and personal evening with the star of the sellout Singapore season of The Phantom of the Opera, Brad Little.  He will be joined on stage by Shoshana Elise Bean an American singer-songwriter and best known for playing Elphaba on Broadway in the global hit musical WICKED. Accompanied by a 15 piece symphony orchestra, this spell binding concert features Brad singing the world’s favourite songs from The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Sound of Music, CATS, Grease and The Lion King just to name a few, while Shoshana will perform well known hits such as 'Defying Gravity' and 'For Good’ from WICKED together with many other Broadway classics.

Brad Little, who has performed as the Phantom more than 2,500 times, and won international acclaim not only for his portrayal as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, but also for lead roles in productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables, Beauty and the Beast amongst others. Brad’s glamorous partner for the evening, Shoshana Bean, was the original cast member in the Tony Award-winning production of Broadway's Hairspray. Shoshana has been applauded for her powerful and emotionally charged vocal style in her portrayal of Elphaba which she performed on Broadway and in several other productions of WICKED during its first national tour.

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 -

Monday, 14 October 2013

Wieliczka Salt Mine: Miner for a Day in Poland

It was half past nine when I arrived at the Wieliczka Salt Mine to experience life as a miner in the good old days. The city of Wieliczka is located 30 minutes by road from Krakow and it makes a good half day trip to visit this mine.

I have visited the conventional tourist route, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, several years back and thus I decided to opt for the miners' route which would enable visitors a first hand experience of life as a miner.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Opera Krakowska contemporary take on Madama Butterfly

It was a packed Friday evening (11 Oct) at the Krakow Opera House where Puccini's Madama Butterfly would be performed.  This contemporary looking building was opened in December 2008 and has since played an important role in the arts and culture calendar of Krakow.

The Krakow Opera was established in 1958 and did not have a permanent home till recently. This Opera House enables the company to plan and stage more performances.  In fact, the online Operabase website ranked Krakow Opera as the top 47 opera houses in the world, up from 98th position from the previous year.

Intermission time..
 I last caught Krakow Opera in 2008 where they staged La Boheme at the Julius Slowack Theatre, and I was eager to see this company again in its new (well, not so new now) home.

The 760-seat theatre was an intimate size and the audience was seated close to the stage.

On the night of performance, Marta Abako played the role of Cio-Cio-San and Tamasz Kuk took on the role of Pinkerton.  Both sang the role competently and I specially liked the dramatic acting of Marta Abako.  They were supported well by Agnieszka Czastka's Suzuki, Stanislaw Kufluk's Sharpless and Pawel Wunder's Goro.

It was a contemporary staging and the director Tomasz Tokarczyk made full use of the elevation stage and sliding sets to good effects.  The placement of singers and the chorus were also done smoothly.  The production team did take liberty with infusing various Asian elements into this production, and being an Asian, it looked awkward at times.  But this is just a minor comment.

This was the second Madama Butterfly production that I had seen this year, the other being Singapore Lyric Opera's production.  In terms of staging, Krakow Opera has an edge over SLO.

With appreciation to Opera Krakowska.  Website:

Please also see my write-up on Wieliczkav Salt Mine