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The kids walked in expecting to see the set all ready and the show about to start, but they were in for a surprise. What they walked in upon was the sight of the stage in a state of undress, with boxes and other things scattered across the stage, and stage hands busy with their various tasks.

What was going on? Were we in the right theatre? Did we get the venue or time wrong?

Have we come to the right show? Catching a glimpse of the backstage action (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Turns out, it was iTheatre‘s innovative way of giving kids (and their parents) a glimpse into unseen aspects of theatre. Those stage hands? They were really the actors taking on the role of stage hands. They were actors pretending to be stage hands who were pretending to be actors. I thought that was quite an amusing twist on itself.

The twist went further when one of the backstage crew said they were in the midst of preparing for the show, Poultry Tales! What a minute, weren’t we already watching it?

I had been wondering how iTheatre would weave the three different tales into a single, coherent show. Using the premise of the backstage crew secretly trying on costumes and living out their acting dreams, iTheatre managed to tie the three tales together quite well.

Maggie, the stage manager, and her assistant take pains to train their newbie interns the rudiments of backstage work. In the process, the audience is treated to the three tales, and introduced to a whole bunch of terms that performers use for the various items found around the stage – fly bar, cyclorama, flat, legs (no, not the legs we walk on), hand prop, etc. I thought it was wonderful to introduce these terms to the kids. I especially loved how as each part of the stage was introduced, the stage set slowly came together to be nicely put together, as one normally sees it when walking into the theatre. It’s not everyday that you get to see a stage set get pieced together right before you eyes.

Maggie (in red), her assistant (in brown), and the intern. (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Anyway, the flow from pre-show segment to the actual show was so seamless that my boys weren’t quite sure that the show had actually started already! I had to whisper to them that the show had already started! I guess they were expecting the actors to don more elaborate costumes and such (the actors were wearing simple overalls in different colours). That was one of the reasons why I liked the first story – Chicken Licken – the best. It showed the kids that all you need to portray a character was just a mask. And with just a change of mask, you can change your character. The four actors played six characters! Some characters had to switch between their masks and were basically talking to themselves :)

Acting out Chicken Licken with just masks! (Photo credit: iTheatre)

More than that though, the story-telling for Chicken Licken was fast-paced and entertaining! From the time the show ended, and every day since, one of my kids will say, complete with exaggerated actions, “I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and some of it fell on my tail!”

In the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, while I thought the gentleman took a little too much pleasure in thinking about how to murder the poor innocent goose, it did drive home the lesson that we should not be consumed by greed. In terms of props, the kids were tickled at how the goose spewed ribbons instead of blood, when she was killed. Though the lead up to the kill was filled with tension, the end was humourous without losing the plot.

Evil plans are a-hatching in the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg (Photo credit: iTheatre)

The final story was about The Little Red Hen. Her friends all swore to be there for her whenever she needed their help, but whenever she asked for it, they came up with one excuse or another and ran away. She did everything on her own, and enjoyed the fruits of her own labour. Her friends on the other hand, learnt that they should keep their promises all the time, and not pick and choose when to keep it. I also tend to think that for this story, the moral really is that if you want something done, you just got to do it yourself. Hopefully we have friends who are more dependable that we can count on of course!

Little Red Hen and her unreliable friends (Photo credit: iTheatre)

My three-year old may not have understood the backstage bit, but she definitely enjoyed the stories told, and had a good time laughing at the funny segments (and getting appropriately worried for the goose when it was going to get killed). The boys were better able to appreciate the backstage elements, and they certainly enjoyed the story-telling as well.

Poultry Tales in on until Sunday, 14 May. Do hurry and get your tickets from SISTIC! Enjoy a post-exam treat for all the family, or end the weekend with a Mother’s Day outing to the theatre. Good lessons taught, lots of backstage things to see and learn, and overall an enjoyable show.

Don’t miss your chance to catch iTheatre, because this might very well be their last production. They have unfortunately lost their source of funding, and will not be able to continue for the time being. iTheatre is seeking funding, and if you or others you know are able to help, please do give them your support. You can find out more about how to help iTheatre here.

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The Ant and the Grasshopper by iTheatre is back after a sell-out run in 2014. You may be familiar with this tale, which is actually pretty short in its original form, about a hardworking ant who prepared for the winter and a lazy grasshopper who whiled away his time only to regret when winter came.

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iTheatre has put a refreshing spin on the story that at the same time doesn’t stray too far from the original.  They managed to draw out valuable lessons for children (and adults) to learn from. Lessons that are perfect for the start of the school year, as we found out when we caught the show over the weekend.

More than just a re-telling of the tale extolling the virtues of hard work and planning ahead, iTheatre’s version of The Ant and the Grasshopper was an engaging performance that brought home the lesson of how there is a time and place for everything. Most prominent was how there is a time for work, and a time for play.

Actually, at that point I thought they took all the words out of my mouth. It sounded like what I have been repeating to the boys, especially recently. Asher and I looked at each other at the same time, and it was like a moment of enlightenment. “Ooohh! It’s not just Mummy saying these things.” So spot on.  I hadn’t expected them to lay out the lessons so plainly, and it was perfect. Thank you iTheatre!

Ms Fizzbuzz, Ant, and Grasshopper (Photo credit: iTheatre)

They presented a balanced point of view though. I liked how even though Ant was so hardworking and shown to be more than prepared for winter, Ant acknowledged that she could also learn something from Grasshopper. There was value in slowing down and indulging in creative pursuits. I guess being in the arts industry, iTheatre can’t quite diss the pursuit of the arts can they?

The loggerheads

Ant and Grasshopper always at odds with each other (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Then there were the smaller lessons that were peppered throughout. The advice to listen to words of warning, rather than learning the hard way; that you can prepare for eventualities or events even if you haven’t encountered them before; that time passes more quickly than you think. The many parallels to our home life popped into my head immediately.

Nessa the caterpillar, Grasshopper, and Ant (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Nessa the caterpillar, Grasshopper, and Ant (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Most importantly, I think the message on being forgiving and compassionate came through. In the original tale, Grasshopper died lamenting his foolishness at not being better prepared for winter. The scene at the end is bleak. A grasshopper dying of hunger while watching the well-prepared ants sharing food amongst themselves. In this version of the tale, the Bees showed compassion and convinced their friend, Ant, to care for Grasshopper and not just stand by and say “I told you so”. Sure, she was right, but that didn’t mean she shouldn’t also have a heart to care for Grasshopper now that he was clearly in need. It’s a good message for the kids to be kind even to those they may not like, or who aren’t always kind to them in return. If someone is in need, we should step forward and help.

To help or not to help? (Photo credit: iTheatre)

To help or not to help? (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Besides Ant and Grasshopper, there were also two busy(body) Bees, a timid caterpillar, and one very fashion-minded ladybird. The kids loved Nessa, the caterpillar who was afraid of change. She was such an endearing character, and the lesson she learnt in the story was a good one for kids – that change can be good. Nessa was played perfectly by Safia Hanifah, who also took on the role of Ms Fizzbuzz. I loved how she gave Nessa and Ms FizzBuzz such distinct personalities and movements, to the point that a friend of mine didn’t realise the two roles were played by the same person!

Lady Coco, the over-the-top insect version of Lady Gaga, was also a hit. You will be added to her legion of fans once you meet her.

Lady Coco (Photo credit: iTheatre)

iTheatre has come up with a really good production. A wonderful set that showed the changing of the seasons, great costumes (I kept admiring the headpieces), an excellent cast, and a good storyline to boot. Those more critical may find that the morals of the show were put across too blatantly, but I thought that it was good for my kids, at least, because it caught their attention and made them remember it better.

Initially the boys were asking why we were watching the show when they already knew the story, but by the end of the show they were saying how much they enjoyed it!

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Friends stick together in tough times (Photo credit: iTheatre)

The Ant and The Grasshopper is a 50 minutes musical is suitable for both young and old. Get your tickets here!

Ant and The Grasshopper
Date: 18 Feb to 19 March 2017
Venue: SOTA Drama Theatre, 1 Zubir Said Drive, Singapore 227968

 

***SUPER FLASH GIVEAWAY***

iTheatre has generously offered a family packed of 4 tickets each to two readers of this blog!
The tickets are for 25 Feb, Saturday, 11am. Please make sure you are able to attend the show before taking part in this giveaway.

To take part in this giveaway please do the following by 23 Feb (today!) 2359:
1. Like iTheatre’s Facebook page
2. Leave a comment in the blog post telling me the title of your favourite Aesop’s Fable
3. BONUS: If you can tell me Lady Coco’s (the ladybird) full name, you will get an extra 2 entries. She mentions her name in the promotional video below (around 1:38).

Good luck!

Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue.

This video is from the 2014 production.


Disclaimer: We were provided one family package of four tickets for the purchase of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are mine. 

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Back during the September holidays, Asher had the privilege of attending a 3-day Astronaut Training Camp conducted by The Little Executive. I had let him decide if he wanted to attend the course, and upon hearing the words “astronaunt”, “space”, and “mission”, he was sold.

It was four days of space adventure and exploration for the kids. There were several missions to complete each day. Among the many missions, they had to identify and communicate with aliens, help lost aliens find each other, make astronaut food, make slime, and for the grand finale, plan, create and unveil their spaceship!

The learning goals for this camp were for the kids learn and practice communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, sharpen their sensory systems, and delve into their imagination, all while having fun!

Asher is generally the one-word-response kind of boy.

“How was your day?”

“Good.”

And even if I posed a more open ended questions on how his day went, his responses are usually quite brief. But at the end of each day at this camp, he would go on and on about what he did, what they were planning for the spaceship, how much fun he had, and that he couldn’t wait to come back again the next day. Definitely a score!

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Each child had a Space Traveller Passport, and I liked how The Little Executive linked each day’s goals back to the theme. It made what they were doing relevant to their astronaut personas. So if one of the aims was to work on hand-eye coordination, the application was that astronauts depended heavily on such skills for repairing sensitive equipment, landing spacecraft and even seemingly simple tasks like treating wounds in a zero gravity environment. If there was an activity that worked on precision and accuracy, they linked it back to how astronauts needed to be extremely observant and make detailed, accurate reports about their missions because others depended on their reports to learn about the universe.

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Asher’s Space Traveller Passport

Every passport needs a passport photo!

Every passport needs a passport photo!

One of the activities was a constellation track, which Asher really enjoyed. He had to guide his friends through a constellation of stars (the kids walked among silver cups) according to a pre-determined path, much like how mission control guides a team remotely. It’s fun for the kids, but really tests their ability to observe, translate from 2D to 3D space, and communicate their instructions clearly to others. Slime-making was a big hit too as you can imagine.

The constellation walk

The constellation walk

Slimmmyyy

Slimmmyyy. Look at the expressions on the boys faces! Disgust of delight? :) (Photo credit: The Little Executive

Making astronaut food - freeze dried bananas

Making astronaut food (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

There was a special machine for freeze drying the bananas

There was a special machine for dehydrating the bananas! (Photo credit: The Little Executive)  

Exploring sensory bins with and without gloves to discover the differences in the experience (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

Exploring sensory bins with and without gloves to discover the differences 

 

However, the activity he talked about the most was the building of the spaceship. Asher has built things from cardboard and scrap materials at home before, but it’s usually individual work, and anything he wants, goes. For the camp spaceship building activity, I really liked hearing him say things like, “we discussed…”, “we agreed…”, “we voted…”, “we compromised…” And also, “so-and-so came up with this cool idea!”

I liked that building the spacecraft was a team activity. Every kid had his or her own ideas on what could be done, but it was clear from what Asher told me that the kids shared their ideas, and the rest of the crew (the kids) had a chance to chime in whether they thought it was good or not, and together they decided whether to adopt the idea in the end. He even told me what they would do if the decision wasn’t unanimous (which happens of course!) They also devised a way to divide the work, with each kid responsible for building a different part of the spacecraft, but with a common end-goal in mind. Kids sorting things out on their own, even if they only just met. I think that’s a great life skill to learn.

Working together

Working together to implement their ideas (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

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It’s hard work building a spaceship (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

So at the unveiling of the spaceship, even though it was not a professional looking, slick kind of spacecraft, there was a lot of effort and teamwork put into it. And most importantly, if you asked the kids to tell you more, they could supply you with so many details about what each part was, what it was really made of (that’s not really cardboard, I mean, c’mon!), what it does, why they added it to the spaceship, etc. They definitely knew what they were doing when they added each and every part of the spaceship. I especially loved how they even made things that were on the inside of the spacecraft that couldn’t be seen from the outside. They did it not for show, but because it needed to be there. There was a purpose. You could also feel the kids’ sense of collective ownership. They knew who contributed ideas for which part, but it was their spaceship, because they decided on what went into it together, and worked together to build it.

Adding fuel to the engines

Adding fuel to the engines – one of the unseen details the kids included

 

The spaceship

To infinity and beyond! Part the of the spaceship the kids crafted.

From the activity sheets that Asher brought home at the end of the camp, I thought the activities were very novel and fun for the kids. The kids probably didn’t realise how much they were learning. It’s a case of more-than-meets-the-eye. For some of the activities, I can’t put my finger on it, on how it works, but it’s almost like it’s a process the kids have to go through in order to unlock something inside. Then something clicks, and they have it. I don’t know how. You gotta ask Michelle about it.

Doing some mission activities (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

Doing some mission activities (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

Actually, there are two Michelles at The Little Executive. Michelle Choy and Michelle Tham are co-founders of The Little Executive. Not only do they share the same first name, they share the same vision to better prepare children for life, not just school, in an arguably more uncertain future. They believe that children need three key things:

  1. Essential skills, in particular executive functioning skills which are like the “command and control” of the brain;
  2. Healthy learning habits that enable kids to think before they act
  3. A growth mindset that allows insight to emerge from failure, and resilience to be built from mistakes

These were really the reasons why I was interested to find out more about the holidays camps and courses at The Little Executive. I think it’s good for the kids to develop the three aspects of essential skills, healthy learning habits, and a growth mindset, from as early as possible. Not for any other reason than it’s just good for them. For living. For life.

In my own kids, I’ve seen how challenging things can be when there are gaps in these areas. I like how The Little Executives focuses not on imparting content knowledge, but really nurturing the process part of things. And it is a partnership with the parents, of course, as these things cannot be left to a class to solve alone.

So if you like the notion of your kids developing their essential skills and executive functioning, learning habits, and building a growth mindset, you will probably find the holiday camps at The Little Executive right up your alley. Not only is it a fun camp for the kids with many interesting activities, the camp equips them with skills that are transferable to other areas of their lives.

The Little Executives will be holding three holiday camps during the year-end holidays. One of them is an expanded version of the Astronaut Camp that Asher went for. It’s is now a 4-day camp, instead of just 3 days. Details of the three camps are listed below.

Slots are filling up fast, so if you are keen, you should sign up soon!

The Little Executives have generously offered readers of this blog a 15% discount on camp fees. Just quote “leisure15” when you sign up.

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Calling all little astronauts! This December holidays, let us take your child on a mission to Outer Space. Through this unique 4-day camp, aspiring astronauts will hone their problem solving skills to complete Space Missions, enhance their teamwork and communication skills as they work together as a crew, and sharpen their sensory systems while exploring new territories.

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Your mini paleontologist will embark on a dino-dig, unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils and working together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton! They will trace how dinosaurs lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, while learning about evolution. The kids will need to harness their acute powers of observation to identify each bone and work collaboratively to put the pieces together. This project highlights inductive and deductive reasoning skills, sequencing and problem-solving abilities.

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Get your little one all set for Primary school with our 4-day prep camp aimed at honing essential skills used daily in the classroom. Through a series of fun and engaging activities, your child will enhance his ability to listen and remember, pay attention in class, think and ask questions and communicate effectively.Join us for a P1 prep camp that will help your child grow to become an independent and confident learner!

 

 

The Little Executive also conducts regular classes using their research-based specialist-designed programme that aims to develop essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The Little Executive is running free trial classes every Saturday for their regular classes until 26 Nov 2016 for N2 to P1 kids.

Obtaining his astronaut certificate!

Obtaining his astronaut certificate!

Reach for the stars

Reach for the stars

Contact details are listed here:

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229844
69081889
knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia


Disclaimer: The Little Executive sponsored the Astronaut Training Camp for my son for the purpose of a review. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. 

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Three bickering siblings. Two boys and a girl. Three different sets of skills and talents. I can relate to that!

I brought my three little piglets to watch The Three Little Pigs by SRT’s The Little Company, and the story and it’s telling were just as engaging as I remembered. I had brought my eldest to watch it years ago. It was more than half of his lifetime ago, so he doesn’t remember much. But I remember loving the performance and thought it was wonderful to have the opportunity to bring all three kids to catch the production.

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Since it was first performed in 2012, The Little Company’s The Three Little Pigs has been staged all over the world! In New York, London, Sydney, Chicago, cities in Finland, and cities in China. Wow.

Having watched it previously, I can tell you that it’s still the high quality production that it was before. And like most, if not all, of The Little Company’s shows, there’s lots to love about this production.

Besides having the most adorable names (Cha, Siu and Bao! – from now on how can you eat a cha siu bao and not think of these piggies?), the characters are given memorable personalities as well. Cha the brawny one, Siu the environmentally conscious one, and Bao the bookish one. Who can forget the amusing cameos by various ‘convenient tradespersons’! So funny, because yes, really, in reading the book, isn’t it just so convenient that someone ambles along with enough material for the pigs to build a house? Especially the house of bricks! And the wolf! Who didn’t love the misunderstood wolf?  The cast dug into their roles and pulled off all their character’s quirks really well.

Bao, Siu, Mummy Pig, and Cha

The songs were great too – catchy tunes and catchy lyrics. We found ourselves humming the songs after the show and bopping as we walked. These songs will stick in your head for quite a while, I tell you. I also love, love, love how the wolf’s songs had a getai feel. It’s such a novel idea to use getai inspired music in a kid’s show. Ivan Chan gave a commendable performance as the wolf. If this is your first time watching the production, you’re definitely in for a treat. Having seen the first edition though, I do think I have a preference for Sebastian Tan’s version of the wolf, simply because he was so over-the-top flamboyant. It suited the getai-esque songs and the self-absorbed, self-pitying nature of the wolf.

The wolf who’s just a bit misunderstood

As with most of The Little Company’s children’s productions, there is a message they want the kids to learn from the story. For the Three Little Pigs, the kids went home with the knowledge that while everyone has different skills and talents, rather than let these differences divide us, we can pool our skills to accomplish shared dreams. In other words, we should work together because everyone has something to offer.

You can bet I’m going to milk this one. If one or the other says, “but s/he’s not good at [fill in the blank with some activity]”, I shall remind them of how they each bring a different perspective to things, and they each can help.

The other lesson I liked was that a “family sticks together”. Despite all the bickering, the piglets three loved and helped one another – and mum! I really hope that the kids learn to stick together through thick and thin. That at the end of the day, despite all the bickering, the kids will know that they can count on one another. That they can be themselves and still be loved for who they are. And that they can meaningfully contribute to the family using their own special gifts and talents.

Cleaning up their too-small home

Watch out wolf!

It’s still the September holidays, and with a public holiday on Monday, why not bring your kids to watch The Three Little Pigs? The show ends its run on 17 Sep, and there are still tickets available through the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555). It’s a show suitable for all the family!

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Oink oink oink!

 


Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 

Photo credit: All production pictures are from SRT.

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Romeo & Juliet

It was a first! The first time that the grandparents had all three kids over at their house for a sleepover. And it was their idea!

With the kids well taken care of, Jon and I were free to enjoy a night out at the park.

We attended SRT’s Romeo & Juliet at Fort Canning. This is SRT’s ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and this year’s coincides with the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. 600x400 crop

Having gone for previous Shakespeare in the Park events, and being wowed by Merchant of Venice the last time, I had high expectations for this show.

The set was a modern maze of metal, and stained glass windows echoed the Catholic context in which this play takes place. There were no period costumes as everything was set in modern times.

I thought that the play had a muted start, but it got better and better, and by the end I can safely say it was a really good show. For me, these were the standouts, and the let downs.

There was definitely a whole lot of chemistry between Thomas Pang and Cheryl Tan. They seemed very natural with each other, and that made the attraction between their characters believable. This is probably the most important thing since the whole story revolves around them!

Thomas Pang, Cheryl Tan, Daniel Jenkins in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet being married. Palmer’s kiss? (Picture credit: SRT)

Mercutio was excellent. I liked how the character was played by Shane Mardjuki, and I thought it was very interesting how Mercutio was made to become an ominous symbol of foreboding. It was appropriately creepy, and brought a different element to the scenes he reappears in after his death. It was interesting to me that the Apothecary was played by the same actor too, as if Mercutio’s spirit was somehow involved in giving the poison to Romeo.

I had extremely high expectations of Remesh Panicker after his excellent! stupendous! wonderful! take on Shylock. In Romeo and Juliet, Capulet, the character he played, didn’t get as much air time at first. But when Capulet made more appearances, and more of Capulet’s personality was revealed, I was won over. Remesh Panicker is just. so. good. The sideways look, the little wave of the hand, the pause. I’m sure it’s all planned. And it was carried out to perfection.

David Gooderson, Brendon Fernandez, Remesh Panicker in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

The Prince warning Capulet and Montague to stop all violence (Picture credit: SRT)

I liked the set too. The lighting could change to remind you of whether you were at the Capulet or Montague’s. It was versatile enough to show all the various scenes, including the iconic climb up the wall by Romeo :) A must! And for me, it was particularly significant seeing the same space being used as the bed where the young lovers spent the night together after their marriage, and later on as the space where they shared their love in death. Things you won’t get from the movie version.

As for what I liked less, I thought it was a strange choice of theme for the party scene. It seemed very out-of-place in the play’s entirety, and felt a bit like they were trying too hard to get the Asian thing in. I think that perhaps they were drawing on the extravagant and extremely kitsch costume party shown in Baz Luhrrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. In the movie it worked. Somehow on stage, without the whizzing camera effects and close-ups, it didn’t quite work so well.

Company in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet (2)

The strange Asian-mish-mash party (Picture credit: SRT)

I also felt that Juliet was a little too frivolous for my liking at first. She was just a bit too gushy, a bit too exuberant. I guess it really depends on how old you think Juliet is supposed to be. Some say that based on the text, Juliet isn’t even fourteen. In which case, I suppose a gushy, young Juliet could be accurate. I guess I’ve been conditioned to expect a certain kind of Juliet, so it’s really me who needs to break out of it I suppose. However, as the play progressed, I thought Cheryl Tan’s Juliet got better and more nuanced.

Cheryl Tan in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & JulietJuliet dreaming about her Romeo (Picture credit: SRT)

Overall, I loved how the old English text was brought to life in this play. I noticed the words a lot more than I did when watching the movie, and the comical parts stood out more. It was extremely impressive that the actors could remember so much text and spout old English so smoothly! Gosh. I was also reminded that this was truly the original Twilight. When I read Twilight I couldn’t believe how quickly Edward and Bella could fall in love. Well, Romeo and Juliet did it first, and they fell in love even more quickly! See, Shakespeare was wayyy ahead of his time. Romeo and Juliet is an amazing story that’s worth revisiting. When we left the park I was still playing the scenes over in my head, and thinking about the themes that were brought out in the play. I guess Shakespeare does that to you.

SRT’s Romeo & Juliet closes on 22 May, Sun. If you have no plans this weekend, I suggest you check out this performance. It will be an evening well spent!

Tickets are available at the SISTIC website.

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“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Now, even if you’ve never read a single Shakespeare play in your life, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that line and know where it comes from. It’s one of the best known lines from the famous Romeo & Juliet!

Or if you are from my generation, at the very least you would have flocked to the theatres to watch Leonardo DiCaprio play Romeo in the movie version of Romeo & Juliet.

This April, we are in for a real treat by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT). As part of their Shakespeare in the Park series, SRT will be staging Romeo & Juliet from 27 April to 22 May 2016. This will be their ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and 2016 is an extra special year because this year marks the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. To join in on the celebrations commemorating the bard’s life and works, SRT has chosen to stage what is probably Shakespeare’s most well-loved play, one which has had a profound influence on popular culture.

Main Visual (with text)

I love the Shakespeare in the Park series! A picnic with friends and loved ones, lush greenery, and a good performance of the classics. What’s not to love?

SRT’s production of Romeo & Juliet will be a contemporary take on the classic, and if Merchant of Venice was anything to go by, it will be a visually stunning production. The young lovers will be portrayed by Thomas Pang (Tribes) and Cheryl Tan (Beauty World and Red Riding Hood), with Remesh Panicker, Shane Mardjuki and Daniel Jenkins in other leading roles.

Remesh Panicker!! I’m so excited to watch him act, you have no idea. I loved his portrayal of Shylock in Merchant of Venice, and am very keen to see which role he takes up and how he interprets the role.

If you read in the Straits Times, there’s a chance that this might be the last Shakespeare in the Park (sob!). If you’ve never been, you really should go down this year to experience the event for yourself.

TICKET INFORMATION
Prices: From $40 (student and group concessions available)
Venue: Fort Canning Park
Ticketing: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or http://www.sistic.com.sg
Performances: 30th April to 22nd May 2016

 

***Ticket Giveaway***

SRT has generously sponsored 1 pair of tickets for Sun, 15 May 2016, 7.30pm for one lucky reader. To take part in this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment in the post, telling me who you’ll bring for the show! Remember to leave your email address.

All entries must be in by Fri, 6 May, 6pm. Please make sure that you can make it for that showtime before taking part as the tickets cannot be exchanged for other shows.

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Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue.

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I first saw posters of Hanuman – The Superhero Monkey hanging from lamp posts along the roads. Superhero monkey? What was this all about?

When I found out that the show was based loosely on the epic Indian tale, the Ramayana, that piqued my interest. An epic tale, a superhero, and promises of battles. I figured this would be something the kids would be interested in – and they were!

Hanuman is a monkey who had superpowers when he was young but he lost his powers after using them foolishly to play tricks on others (I thought that was a good reminder to the children to not waste their skills and talents on foolish things!). One day Rama looks him up and sends him on a mission to rescue Rama’s wife, Sita, who was abducted by the evil Ravana. Hanuman assembles some friends and forms an army of monkeys who set out to defeat Ravana. Along the way, he rediscovers his superpowers after learning to believe in himself.

The Army of the Five Monkeys (Source: SRT)

This production was unlike any other that I’ve seen from SRT’s The Little Company. It uses multimedia to wonderful effect! While the stage set at first appears plain, just white canvases on movable frames, the white screens provided the backdrop for all kinds of scenes to be projected onto them. One minute the monkeys are in a jungle, then they are soaring through the sky, and then (my favourite part) they are walking in a labyrinth of walls and one of the characters even gets sw……!

Wait, what was that?

Sorry! I don’t want to spoil this part! You got to watch it to see for yourself!

Sean Lai Millicent Wong Zachary Ibrahim and Jo Tan in Hanuman The Superhero Monkey

Hanuman leading the band of monkeys (Source: SRT)

I loved how the images were stylised to look like comics, and there were text bubbles popping up every now and then to provide the context, just like in a comic book. The result is that you feel like you are reading a Harry Potter book where the characters are moving on the page!

Hanuman – The Superhero Monkey is a collaboration between SRT and UK’s Imitating the Dog, who bring their unique style of theatre to this epic tale adapted from the Ramayana. The production also features music by Soumik Datta, one of the biggest new music talents in UK. I loved how the sitar was featured heavily in the music, and it felt very on point.

While this isn’t a musical extravaganza with songs aplenty like Treasure Island, The Nightingale, Three Billy Goats Gruff and other recent SRT productions, the show is definitely the multi-sensory experience that it promises to be, and you’ll be entertained for sure.

And anyway, when we left my boys were still singing the Superhero Monkey song :)

And also, my little almost-two-year-old girl told me after, “Mummy, I’m a flying monkey!”

So yes, boys and girls alike will enjoy this show! You can get your tickets from the SISTIC website or call the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

 

***GIVEAWAY***

SRT has very generously sponsored one Family Package (4 tickets) for 17 Apr 2016, Sun, 11am to one reader! All you have to do is to leave a comment below telling me one superpower you wish you had, and what you would do with that power!

This is a flash giveaway, so all entries need to be in by 12pm, 15 Apr! Please make sure that you can make it for that showtime before taking part as the tickets cannot be exchanged for other shows.

Thanks!

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Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue. 

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the show for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

 

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