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Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Ling’

Three cheers for The Little Company!

What an amazing production!

From the minute the curtains were opened, the kids and I were enthralled by The Nightingale. I found myself ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the gorgeous set. Once again The Little Company has created a beautiful world for the audience to enter, and for me it was one of the best sets for a children’s production I’ve seen in a while. Nowadays many theatre companies make do with one key prop and use it in multiple ways, leaving scene changes mostly up to your imagination. It can be very clever, depending on how it’s done, but today’s production reminded me that sometimes, there’s nothing quite like having a real change of scenery on stage. Besides the Emperor’s palace, curtains of green foliage transport you to the forest beyond the palace walls where the Nightingale and other animals live. I also liked the use of shadow play, with shadows cast upon hanging laundry, as the Lord Protector went around enquiring about the Nightingale.

Three cheers for the Emperor of China! (Photo taken from SRT’s Facebook page)

The story is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Emperor and the Nightingale’. The Emperor of China is so enchanted by the lilting birdsong of the plain looking nightingale that he captures her and keeps her in a gilded cage for his daily entertainment. But soon, the nightingale loses her beautiful voice and he chases her away. She is replaced with a mechanical bird that the Emperor thought would be infallible, but even that bird loses it’s voice. He is so distraught without the companionship and song of the nightingale that his health quickly deteriorates until she comes back to sing for him.

I liked how the plight of the nightingale somewhat paralleled the life of the kitchenmaid. The plain-looking nightingale possessed the most beautiful voice imaginable, more beautiful than birds with more attractive plummage. In a somewhat similar vein, the kitchenmaid who was the “lowest of the low” knew more about life than the Lord Protector who was the “highest of the high”. It doesn’t mean that the lowly, unattractive creatures have nothing to offer. I thought that was a good lesson to point out to the kids.

The story unfolded at just the right pace for the children to follow and was made more interesting with the use of rhymes. The entire script was written as a rhyming poem! I was happy to find that there didn’t seem to be any stilted parts resulting from forcing out a rhyme. I thought it made for seamless flow into the many songs.

Yes, the songs. Actually this production reminded me of Frozen (in a good way) because the characters weave in and out of songs just like that.

And wow, the songs. They were so good! Slick, polished, creative. I wasn’t surprised at all to find out that Ruth Ling had composed them. Having seen a few productions which featured her work, there’s this extra touch of magic. I was especially surprised by the mechanical bird song that was done in a very modern electronic/hiphop way (you know, where the voices sound all, er…electronic…you know, you know? Pardon my lack of proper musical terminology :) ). I loved how fresh it was. And it wasn’t out of place either because it fit in perfectly with the portrayal of the electronic/mechanical bird.

Nightingale, Emperor & the kitchen maid (Photo taken from SRT’s Facebook page)

The musical is sprinkled with humour (Ellery found it very funny how the Lord Protector didn’t know his animals sounds), but it’s also quite moving. You feel sad for the bird when she loses her song, and happy for the Emperor when he discovers the joy of freedom and true friendship. And the Nightingale’s song itself is very moving. When I asked Asher what he liked he mentioned the Nightingale’s song and said it had made him almost want to cry!

The Nightingale is a top notch children’s performance that’s a visual treat with a great cast and great songs. Definitely a must watch!

It’s on until 14 Sep 2014 at the DBS Arts Centre. It is also showing in Mandarin from 18 Sep to 11 Oct. Tickets are available at SISTIC.

 

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We were given complimentary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

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