The Importance of Being Ernest

Oscar Wilde is such a hoot.  I love the way he looks at the world he lived in and in many ways, his plays are still relevant in the 21st century, especially The Importance of being Ernest.  Why are people obsessed about what other people think and life has a funny way of showing us up?  Yes, I recently caught Wild Rice’s interpretation of that very play.  If you missed it, don’t worry about it.

In my humble opinion, it was just ok.  A total hoot but only ok.  It was funny with Ivan Heng channeling his inner Maggie Smith as Lady Bracknell and Hossan Leong hamming it up as Miss Prism.  However, that was the problem for me, it seem like Ivan Heng got his best mates together and just hammed it up for a party.

The set looked like it could be someone’s home, especially a particular theatrical someone type home.  The costumes would be what every good campy costume party host would expect of his guests.  So that’s how I felt, like a neighbour peering through the fence watching an over the top costume party.  Maybe that was Glen Goei’s intention and if it is, well done to him and his cast.  If not, I paid … actually my good friend paid good money to attend a party we weren’t invited to.

Next up, Othello.

Company

When Stephen Sondheim wrote the musical, Company in the 70s, I don’t think he realised that it would one day be adapted for an audience in Singapore.  I’m not sure what he would think of it but I did have fun watching it.  Ok ok ok, I may be a little bias.  My friend, Petrina plays the confused bride-to-be Amy so well that the little flaws were lost on me :p

I’m not theatre review expert.  I watch plays, if they get me to sit up and think a little, I reckon they’ve done what they’ve set out to do i.e. success.  So I’m happy to report, I did sit up a couple of times.  Especially when neurotic Amy, played by Petrina sang the famous not “Getting Married Today”.  While there were no doubts on my wedding day, it’s emotions that every person about to make a huge commitment like marriage understands.

Personally, I reckon adapting Sondheim is truly an ambitious project so in my humble opinion, the team from Dream Academy did a fine job with a particularly strong ensemble cast.  I also love it when there are new faces that surprise me.  One of whom was Ong Hui Xuan who played the ditzy air stewardess, April.  Her voice was great and comic timing pretty much spot on.  My major feedback would be that the friendships between Bobby and his couple friends came across somewhat affected and unbelievable.  The couples on their own worked great and I could see why they were together but I just couldn’t place why they would Bobby hang out with them and vice versa, much less throw him a surprise birthday party.

Other than that, it was still a hoot to watch.  Made me think how I’d direct the play and the changes I’d do to make it fit in 21st century Singapore.  Ding! Ding!  That means success on the part of the musical 🙂  In my books, if you’ve inspired me to think creatively you’ve done the job as only good art does that to me.

p/s: They’re playing till the end of this week so go catch it!!

Lao Jiu The Musical

Lao Jiu The Musical is part of a Kuo Pao Kun retrospective.  It isn’t exactly the same as the original play I saw way back in the 90s but it is a thoroughly enjoyable reinterpretation of it.

As my friend Erv pointed out, it’s like Brave without the Disney ending.  Yes, it is.  A son, specifically the youngest son after 8 daughters in a Chinese family, longs to be a puppeteer but his family’s dreams and aspirations weigh heavy on him as the only son to become a scholar and look after them.  To a certain extend it is about the choices life affords us and what we do with them reveals the salt in each of us.  To me, it is more about the idea of happiness and the concept of parenting.

In my late 30s, I understand the pursuit of happiness eludes us all.  More importantly, I understand that happiness is a state of mind and different people derive it differently.  We all have dreams.  Some of us get to do it and realise we still aren’t happy O.o  Some of us don’t and realise dreams change.  I guess it’s the pursuit of it that matters, how we go about conjuring these dreams, planning to make them real and trying.  Which leads me to the concept of parenting.

I won’t be the first to admit that I gave my parents a hard time.  Not in the naughty, up to nonsense kind of way but a I-think-I-have-dreams-bigger-than-I-can-imagine type of way.  I also always thought I knew better … actually I’m still like that :p

My parents though, they adapted well.  They knew that trying to control my thoughts would probably not end well.  Parenting.  It is a thankless vocation and I’m grateful that till today my parents do their best trying to parent me.  They have no expectations of me fulfilling their dreams, they just love me and support me in trying to figure out how to keep conjuring dreams.  More importantly, they’ve showed me that life isn’t easy all the time but when we have to make hard choices, it is how we go about making those choices that reveals who we truly are.

I’m all inspired to write a new play now 🙂  Maybe even vision it as a musical.

Anyway, before I distract you further, if you’re in Singapore till Sunday, July 29 with nothing to do, catch Lao Jiu The Musical.  It isn’t perfect, nothing ever is but you’ll enjoy yourself.  The cast sings wonderfully against a story that everyone can relate to.  At the end, you’re left wondering a little which to me, is the best kind of artistry.

When the World was Green

I do miss theatre quite a bit so when the opportunity came to help out a friend in her theatrical pursuits, I said, “Hell yah!!”

Before anyone gets any funny ideas, nope I’m not doing much, it isn’t acting, directing, design of any kind, not even managing … I’m helping out with tickets 🙂 in other words, I’m a door bitch and having fun being one 😉

So if you’re looking for something to do this week, come on by the Night and Day Bar Gallery. If you see me manning a table under a seemingly powerful airconditioner, you’re at the right place.

It’s a perfect hole in the wall type place for an intimate production. Making When the World was Green a perfect little play for me to miss theater san the problems that bigger productions have to contend with. Enough to even think about putting up my own play or dare I … finally shoot my short film.

I did say I’m pretty lucky lately and this simple stint is enough as inspiration to keep creating. Anyone else needs a creative outlet?

Wicked

Ever wondered why the wicked witch is the way she is and really how in the world does water kill her?  Well, wonder no more and Wicked will tell all 🙂  One can’t go to NYC, even if it’s for work and not catch a musical on Broadway.  So that’s what Erv, Daryl and I did the other night.

We actually braved the cold and walked something like 5 blocks to get to the Gershwin Theatre and it was worth it 🙂  As it already is, Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite stories of all time and “The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” just gave it more depth to excite my own creative impluses.

Reminded me why at the core of my heart, despite the advances in technology, I simply love live performances.  There’s something about watching people sing. dance or act in front of your very eyes that can wake your soul.  Made me miss being a theater practitioner … what would I give to be designing lighting or managing a stage again?  I’m not quite sure if I have an answer to that but I do know I was glad to have shared it with Erv and Daryl.

They were the perfect guys to share a musical experience with.  Both understood the beauty of it and once out of the theatre, could relate to the fact that I felt like dancing and singing 🙂

The Composer

There’s something about intimate theater spaces that inspires me to start thinking about writing, or different lighting designs, sets, costumes even directing.  I do miss working in theater but like local films, plays here still leaves you wanting more, so much more.

Jord, Faith and I caught the second last performance of The Composer on Sunday.  I applaud their effort like I do most local films when I walk out of them and I truly truly appreciate them casting non-actors.  It was quite a treat not to see the same usual faces.  I actually even really like the premise.  However, the script and the acting were lacking for me … it was all two dimensional and largely weak.  Could I have done a better job?  I would like to think so but I’ve been there and know how extremely hard it is.

Still, I do hope one day, I can watch a local play and come out of it inspired to produce and direct my own.  For now, what can I say about The Composer?  It’s a story about a man and 7 women in his life.  Essentially though, it’s about him, his wife and his mistress who is married herself.  The other women were his best friend, his pastor and 3 other casualties who he threw himself at, largely because his mistress left him after 5 years.  Why?  She was the one he really loved.  So was it just a timing issue that he met his wife before his mistress?  We’ll never know and like all art forms it isn’t quite meant to answer as much as it is meant to provoke.

I just wished the characters were less stereotypical and chemistry between them much more … well, I just wish there were some chemistry.  Not sure when I’ll be catching my next play but I’m looking forward to The Princess and The Frog 🙂

Winter’s Tale

Last Thursday, Daph and I went to catch Ethan Hawke in the flesh. Yes, we paid $160 for circle 2 seating to watch one of Shakespeare’s less famous plays. Would I have paid that much if Ethan wasn’t in it? Probably not and it would have been my loss and here’s why.

Rebecca Hall was really likable as the wrongly accused Hermione. The rest of this very strong ensemble cast brought to live one of my preferred Shakespeare plays. Mr Hawke, while was entertaining, wasn’t original. I felt like he watched one too many Johnny Depp movies to play the rouge, Autolycus.

For me, this is the play that inspired the Bollywood genre. It has everything, drama, romance, comedy, music, action and Mr Mendes did a very decent job bringing it all together. Well, decent only because I couldn’t have done it better :p Jokes aside though, I love the choices he made on set design, lighting … if I had one thing I wasn’t 100% sure about, it was the different accents … I understand it’s to show the difference between Sicilia and Bohemia but other than the British accent spouting Shakespeare, every other accents is too disconcerting for me. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and am really glad we went … made me realise I miss watching plays 🙂 So anyone up for The Importance of Being Ernest? Who doesn’t like Oscar Wilde 🙂