Friday, 29 November 2013

Bean sprouts in Hougang still gets the golden egg!

Jack & the Bean-Sprout is Wild Rice's annual pantomime production.  This time round, the not so bright Jack was staying with his mother Widow Neo at the opposition ward Hougang.  So expect some political jokes.

As a pantomime,this production works as it makes fun of everything under the (Singapore) sun.  Caleb Goh is believable as the gullible Jack and Darius Tan is the over the top, gambling addict Widow Neo.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Grimm's Fairy Tales by I-Theatre

Grimm's Fairy Tales by I-Theatre was a well produced show aiming at the young audience. Featuring 9 tales by the Grimm brothers written and directed by Brian Seward, the production was supported by a good ensemble cast. Jonathan Lum stood out for his singing.  There were times however when the animal characters bickered or spoke, it was rather piercing to the ears.

The music and song by Bang Wenfu was catchy and the actors delivered well.  The forest-theme set design was effective and the stage was well lit.  Certain scenes featured puppetry which was a good break from the acting.  By having so many stories in one production, it meant that not every story could be developed well.  I remembered a young boy shouted "so short?" during one segment.  Maybe the team could reduce the tales to about five and put more meat into it.

This is a good effort by I Theatre.  The company also sponsored the less privileged children to attend the shows.   A very good deed.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Starlight Express - Steam Engines still rules, and so are the songs (musical review)

I was looking forward to seeing the musical Starlight Express again.  This musical was the first show that I saw in London West End, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.  Since then, the production has undergone changes - songs and stagings.

Being a touring production, it was not possible to have the whole auditorium converted into a race track like in Apollo Victoria Theatre. The creative team this time has decided to present the races in another way - a film segment in 3D format. The film style reminded me of Japan TV show Ultraman.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Pangdemonium: Becoming Next to Normal, then suffering Gruesome Playground Injuries (Review)

Pangdemonium recently staged 2 production here, both dealing with medical conditions.  Next to Normal, with music composed by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, led us into a family dealing with the mother's mental illness.  While the topic of mental illness would be off putting for sombre, the creative team has written a play filled with humour and at the same time, bittersweet.  While it touched on a sombre topic, it was not preachy and it offered a twist in the plot.

With a strong script, the cast was able to deliver a strong performance.  Sally Ann Triplett played the role of mother well, in particular scenes where she was undergoing treatment.  Adrian Pang supported her well as her suffering and frustrated husband Dan, and Nathan Hartono was competent playing the son Gabe.  To me, Julia Abueva was a surprise as Natalie.  Her performance captivated the audience with her intense emotions and we could feel her angst dealing with her family situation.  The cast also included Juan Jackson playing one role as Dr Fine and another as the eccentric Dr Madden.  Linden Furnell completed the cast as Henry, Natalie's friend.   Overall this ensemble gave the audience their money's worth.

While this production may not be the most perfect (eg. singing), it succeeded in conveying the emotions to the audience.  And for about 2 hours, we were involved in the ordeal of this family.  Good script, good casting, good performance.  One of the best productions in Singapore this year.

The company next staged Gruesome Playground Injuries at the Esplanade Theatre Studio.   It was not common to see 2 theatre companies in Singapore staging an identical play in the same year -  World in Theatre's staging was done half a year earlier.

Pangdemonium's version, directed by Tracie Pang, was more impactful and the cast of Alan Wong and Seong Hui Xuan gave a more intense performance.  The set design by Philip Engelheart was beautiful and well thought of, with various objects such as saws forming the backdrop of the stage.  The production value was high, but I still find the script itself slightly draggy.

Pangdemonium has put up 2 good performances this year and it is one theatre company which is likely to make waves in the years to come.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Bjorn Again in Singapore: As good as it gets to the original ABBA (concert review)

The crowd on Friday evening was rather lively and waiting for the concert to begin.  I have not attended a tribute band concert before and I had my reservations.  Would they just be good imitators of the original band and not much more?  

Bjorn Again had its origin in Melbourne, Australia, created by Rod Stephen in 1988 (see as a parody of ABBA.  It was the first trip to Singapore. 

From the time they hit the first note, it was pure fun and at times silliness from these performers, who adopted stage names similar to the 4 original members. We were treated to the favourite hits such as S.O,S, Voulez-Vous, Ring Ring, Mamma Mia and many more.  The enthusiastic crowd responded with every instruction from the band, singing along on certain verses or dancing along.  While the performers sounded close to the original members, they still managed to have their own personalities, while speaking with a fake Swedish accent.

The concert did not feature all ABBA songs.  We had a Madonna song Hung Up, which of course sampled Gimme Gimme Gimme! The 2 gentlemen also did a guitar riff of Smoke on the Water and sang Bon Jovi;s Living on a Prayer.  While these occasions were to give the ladies a break from singing duties, it did not gel with the tribute concept.  Having said that, this is just a small comment.

All in all, it was a fun concert and performed with zest from the cast.  And for certain moments, I felt that I was attending an original ABBA concert.  Well, this is as good as we can get for the real thing.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


After a sellout season around Australia, The World’s Number 1 ABBA show and most successful tribute band of all time, Bjorn Again will perform at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, Sands Theatre, for 2 nights only on 8 & 9 November. Tickets are now on sale.

The only ABBA show endorsed by the members of ABBA, Bjorn Again has been delighting audiences around the world for over 20 years, and has performed over 6000 shows in 100 countries, including shows at Wembley Stadium and Arena, and sell out appearances at The Royal Albert Hall and The Sydney Opera House.

“What started out as a bit of fun snowballed into a household name worldwide - but what really blew us away was the support we got from ABBA themselves!"- explains Bjorn Again founder John Tyrrell

             “One of the most entertaining live shows in the world today”
             Time Out Magazine New York

Friday 8pm
Saturday 2:30pm & 8pm

TICKETS from $45 (excludes the booking fee of SGD$3 per ticket)



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Merchants of Bollywood in Singapore Review: Dance takes centre stage

While it is billed as a musical, Merchants of Bollywood is more a dance show.   Inspired from the real life story of Vaibhavi Merchant, the show’s choreographer, it tells of a journey of a young girl who ventured into the Bollywood movie industry, and her relationship with her grandfather, once an established choreographer in the movie industry.

This should make an interesting storyline.  The creators however seemed to be placing the focus on the dance routines than developing the plots.  A pity really.

The dance numbers are what the audience came for and they were not disappointed. This production featured many good dancers and they kept the energy level  up throughout the show.   If you have always wanted to see Bollywood dancing live, this production will be for you.  The plot is simple enough and you don't need to understand the language.

If dance is for you, go for it.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Merchants of Bollywood: Bollywood musical returns today for limited run

No, this is not the Indian version of The Merchants of Venice.  The Merchants of Bollywood gives audience a close-up to the workings of the World’s largest film industry – Bollywood and the movie world plays in the heart and soul of Indian people.   This production is inspired from the real life story of Vaibhavi Merchant, the show’s choreographer.  It tells of a young girl, her grandfather and their love of dance, set in the desserts of Rajasthan.

This Australian production has toured many cities and would be returning to Singapore for the second time. Some updates have been made to the previous run.  It features songs and dance from smash-hit Bollywood movies like Lagaan, Devdas, Musafir, Bunty Aur Babli, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Rang de Basanti, Dhoom and Dhoom 2, music from the Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman.  For Singapore the show is being updated to include all the latest smash hit songs inclusive; Thug Le & Jigar Da Tukda from Ladies vs Ricky Behl, Haippa and the block buster Mashallah from the hit film Ek Tha Tiger.

See review of this show

Show Details:  5 -10 November 2013
Tuesday – Sunday: 7:30 pm Saturday – Sunday: 2:00 pm

MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, Grand Theatre

SISTIC website SISTIC hotline 65-63485555 & SISTIC authorized agents worldwide.