Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review of Singapura: The Musical

Capitol Theatre, after 17 years, I am back to this place, it's like visiting a long lost friend, familiar yet refreshing.  Everything around this place has changed, it was no longer hidden in the alley behind the Capitol building, instead facing the building is a beautiful atrium and a fountain.  Impressive~

It was such a grand scene that night as Capitol Theatre was donned with red carpet for the Gala Premier of Singapura: The Musical.  Champagne and wine were served during the cocktail reception, every where you turn you have a feast of the eye with the ladies in their beautiful elegant dress and shimmering accessories while the men were in smart looking suits and stylish tie.   

Well, I don't own an elegant dress (the dress code as stated in the invitation) and I am not prepared to spend a bomb on a dress that I'd probably wear for that event once  only.   So I put on my best dress and went off to the gala premier with the boy.   See~ I'm not the only one who is not in cocktail dresses or some fancy elegant gown.

Enough of the theatre and the dresses, now lets talk about the musical.

Taken from Singapura: The Musical facebook page - Singapura tells the story of Singapore during the years of 1955 to 1965 — a decade which included significant events such as the Hock Lee Bus Riots, the 1964 Racial Riots, and the struggle for Singapore’s independence — as seen through the eyes of the ordinary men and women who lived through those turbulent times.

Simple enough intro about the musical that took 3 years of intensive research and interviews about the amazing stories of the unsung heroes in Singapore.  I assure you "simple" it is not, take a look at the number of cast involved and the elaboration of stage props, the songs, the lyrics, the choreography, the historical facts and photos.  Some of these actors and actresses not only have strong legs but a strong heart too to climb 2 flights of stairs to the top of the steel towers to sing or dance or do both at the same time.  My heart skipped a beat just by watching them!

Well, before I get all the hate remarks or the boo-ing, I must let you know our seat location.  We were seated far, far FAR back,  "Just how far back?" you asked.  The furthest of the furthest, where we could almost touch the ceiling and when I turn my head I can see and smile at the lighting guy.  Get the idea already?  No?  Then take a look at the following 3 photos that were taken using my Olympus IXUS and its 8x Zoom in feature, I am seeing them in much smaller size.  Notice how the angle of the photographs are downwards?

I am not sure whether the sound system at our section is not working or not equipped well enough, I can't feel the heart thumping strong wave of music from the orchestra or powerful singing (if there is any) nor catch the words from the cast.

The story revolves around the Tan family where Mr Tan who works as a bus driver in Hock lee Bus Company, Mrs Tan who runs a kopitiam and their daughter Bee Ling who goes to a law school.  Now, the setting would be a good for the story as it slowly unfolds from a peaceful ordinary day to the chaotic days when the strike by Hock Lee Bus Company turns bad followed by the racial tensions among the friends and neighbours, eventually to the independence of Singapore.  However there were way too many minor distracting incidents that it confuses me and the story loses its focal point.

So, after sitting through the 2 plus long hours (with a 20mins intermission) in that small but comfy seat, with a 9 year old boy sitting besides me, what do I think of this musical?  I didn't quite enjoy it as much as I would have expected myself to be, I went there with high anticipation but I yawned a few times and almost dozed off once *opps!*   It seems to me that the production team tried to cramp as many historical events plus the life events of the characters in the story in the 120mins.  Too much info, too messy, making the cast look like headless chicken running around.

All is not lost, at least to us, I asked DinoBoy about his after thoughts on the musical, here's what he got to say (in almost exact words he used, I only made grammatical changes);

"I like the 2 friends who always argue, they are hilarious! "There's the newspaper you silly old fool!  Who you calling silly old fool you silly old fool!", and one of them use the newspaper to hit the other one."

"I felt astonished after seeing the photos of the bus riot.  The boy that died (in the musical) and the  (photo of) man with bloody head... so scary."

"Lee Kuan Yew!  The video where he cried because we are leaving Malaysia.  He was so sad."

"Now I know that the Macdonald House was bombed and its by the Japanese." *Actually it was the Indonesian saboteurs duo who did the deed*

"People at that time are struggling to find a country to live in peacefully with no war and riot."

"It's an interesting musical as it show me how the early Singapore looks like and they put in effort to produce the musical and I like their song! At the kopitiam~."

Credit : Singapura: The Musical

Credit : Singapura: The Musical

I have to agree with DinoBoy that it was hard work from each and every one who were involved in the production, they deserve some credits. Just make sure the next musical about our Singapore strikes a familiar cord in our hearts and its something we can related to clearly.

Singapura: The Musical takes audiences on a journey of love, hope, and new beginnings while exploring the strength of the human spirit during the formative years of Singapore’s history from 1955 to 1965. Through the eyes of ordinary men and women, audiences will witness how hope and youthful determination transcend the struggles of everyday life during this time period as Singaporeans strive towards a better future for themselves and their loved ones. Their passion and drive sees them dreaming, hoping and creating – against all odds – a place where they can truly call home.

Singapura: The Musical
Show Dates: Friday, 22 May 2015 to Sunday, 7 June 2015
Show Time: Tuesday to Friday, 7.30pm
Saturday to Sunday, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Venue: Capitol Theatre
Ticket Price:
$65 - $165 (Weekday evenings: Tue, Wed, Thur)
$65 - $165 (Weekend matinees: Sat, Sun)
$75 - $175 (Weekend evenings: Fri, Sat, Sun)
Ticketing: OR
Enquiry Telephone Line: +65 66029900

Disclaimer : We were invited to the gala premier of Singapura: The Musical, all opinions are based on our personal view about the performance.  All photos in this blog post, unless otherwise credited, are copyright to the DinoFamily, you may not use it without our permission.


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