Short + Sweet Theatre 2015

It’s been some years since I went to see S+S in Penang. My reception of it back then was rather… Tepid. My overall impression seems to have been “generally grim and not fun.” I like the arts to be enjoyable, and I don’t find grimdark or gloomy or depressing things enjoyable.

Then I went to see S+S Dance this year and it was my misfortune that nearly all those in the week I went to see it were contemporary dances. I’ve got very limited appreciation for dances that seem to largely involve falling to the floor and rolling around with a variety of anguished facial expressions and contorted limbs. Give me ballroom dances, the dances of musicals, and lindy hop any day. Or even ballet (though I struggled to fully appreciate Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker when the Russian State Ballet of Siberia came to in Edinburgh back in 2010). I liked a couple of the performances I saw at S+S Dance, but on the whole I don’t think I was very impressed. I mean, clearly many of them can dance and are good dancers but were those performances enjoyable to me? Not really.

Anyhow, I also decided it was time to revisit S+S Theatre and so I did (after first roping Joash and Su Chen into seeing it with me :P ). This is the rundown of my impressions of the eleven that showed in Week 2.

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P. Ramlee the Musical

Short version: P. Ramlee the Musical is based on P. Ramlee’s life, and tells of his rise to fame and how that affected his relationship with each of his wives. I was quite impressed by it.

Longer version:

I think I’ll break this down by topic…

Story

It was, at its most basic, about P. Ramlee and his three wives. All the action in the story comes from his interactions (or lack thereof) with his wives. There is no Big Bad Guy trying to destroy his career or anything like that. The Big Bad Guy might be said to be his ambition and his career, as it was his busy-ness that left him little time for his family and resulted in two divorces. It was a little long (each act ran about 1.5 hours, making it 3 hours in total!) and I put that down to the fact that they wanted to include so many of his well-known songs as well as several original ones written for this musical.

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Sinbad the Musical

Oh dear. I fell asleep at multiple points throughout this show.

And I think that just about sums up my opinion on Sinbad the Musical.

Here’s the summary from the programme:

In our story Sinbad arrives in the city to find it under the spell of an evil vizier who has imprisoned the true king and enslaved his beautiful daughter Yasmin. It doesn’t take Sinbad long to join with the citizens to overthrow this menace. Along the way he meets the magical Fatima, the grizzled old General and a host of colourful characters.

Since we’ve established that I did not think highly of this musical, let’s look at the why and wherefore of it.

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Emily of Emerald Hill

Couldn’t find a poster, so grabbed an image from the DPAC website. heh.

Emily of Emerald Hill is a title I’d heard of time and time again ever since I started going to watch plays and such. I finally got to see it – and I quite liked it!

The titular character, Emily Gan, is the matriarch of a nonya family that lives in Emerald Hill (apparently a real place in Singapore). This monologue takes the audience through Emily’s life – in non-linear fashion (rather like some of those indie movies I watched recently) – and we get to see Emily as a little girl, a young bride to a man twice her age, as a daughter-in-law, as a mother, as a wife, and then as the aging matriarch.

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My Fair Lady

myfairlady

The plot is simple: Professor Henry Higgins takes up Colonel Pickering’s challenge to turn Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a genteel lady by teaching her to speak proper English.

“The World’s Greatest Musical” is a bit of a stretch, but then just about every show touts itself as the best ever so I guess one can’t be surprised by that line. It may, however, be the greatest musical about the English language. (Because let’s face it – there just aren’t that many musicals that revolve around the premise of speaking proper English. haha)

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Marrying Me

With everyone around her tying the knot, ambitiously single Stephanie just wants to say “I don’t.” But her mother and meddling aunt have other ideas. As tragedy looms, Stephanie is forced to turn to an old flame to make her mother’s ‘dying’ wish come true.

Oh, this deserves an outright “Well done, you!”

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The Mousetrap

The longest running play in the world is… Not exactly the most enthralling.

Agatha Christie’s famous play introduces Mollie Ralston, who runs the Monkswell Manor guesthouse with her husband, Giles. Their first guests arrive at the manor on a very snowy day, and they all end up snowed in together. When a police detective arrives, they find that a murderer is suspected to be in the area, which drives tension up considerably. Then one of the guests, the rather unpleasant Mrs. Boyle, is killed and they realize that one of their number is the murderer.

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Hairspray

Hmmmmm. I would have liked this better if I hadn’t seen the movie.

… And that’s the best way to sum it up.

I think the set design was nice and the costumes were just okay (though the outfits Tracey and her mother got from Mr. Pinky were rather ugly). The songs were still enjoyable, although I sorely missed The Ladies’ Choice and The New Girl in Town. Story structure differed a little from the movie – and unfortunately I think the movie’s storyline was much more compact and easily comprehensible. I also preferred the movie cast – they were more dynamic…

In conclusion: This wasn’t too bad, but it would probably be more enjoyable to someone who hasn’t seen the movie.

Broken Bridges

Perhaps this ought to have been called “Burning Bridges” instead of Broken Bridges.

It’s the story of Ming, who dreams of escaping his small-town life in Ipoh and making it big out there in the city. He first encounters problems with his friend, Leong, and his father, neither of whom see why he should want to leave home. But leave he does, and then he returns a decade later as a representative of a big company that wants to tear down the old marketplace and develop the land. Sadly, Ming’s return is no bed of roses. Things seem to go well for a while, and a romance surfaces, but then everything collapses around him…

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