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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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“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.

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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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The classic story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff was given a fresh spin by The Little Company last year to rave reviews. It was funny and entertaining for both adults and kids. The show is back again, but this time in Mandarin. After our positive experience watching Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Mandarin, I was very keen to bring the kids for this show too!

The story goes that Three Billy Goats Gruff (affectionately known as “Baby”, “Middle”, and “Big”) are a close-knit bunch who graze happily together with their daydreamy caretaker, Little Bo-Frilly. But one day, it dawns on them that they are in the middle of a horrible drought. As the grounds turn a dreadful shade of brown, they cast their eyes to the hill on the other side of the river covered with seemingly fresh and juicy grass. Unfortunately, in order to cross the bridge to the other side of the valley, they will have to take on a frightening troll whose favourite food is – goats!

We were not disappointed at all! The story was just as funny, but with unique jokes that can only be appreciated in Mandarin. The script was witty, peppered with plenty of puns on similar sounding words. From the introduction of 羊 Meh Meh (a play on 羊妹妹 or little sister goat), the boys were hooked. And when 没脑妹 (Little Bo-Frilly, but the literal translation is No Brain Sister) introduced herself, they were left in stitches. According to 没脑妹, she is carefree and has no worries (烦恼) so she is 没脑妹! 没脑妹 indeed!

羊Meh Meh (Baby), 羊小二 (Middle), and 老大 (Big). Photo credit: SRT.

The best part of the story, I feel, is how they twisted the tale to show that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and we should all learn to better appreciate what we already have. I think this is a good lesson not just for the children, but for me as well. We can never have too many such reminders.

The goats with 没脑妹 (Little Bo-Frilly). Photo credit: SRT.

As with the English production, the songs were wonderful! Catchy and original. They were adapted beautifully into Mandarin. I loved how the actors and actresses sang and spoke in such clear Mandarin, making it much easier for children to understand. They also made sure to not speak too quickly.

To be honest, my eldest was a bit mopey when we first went in. “Why must be watch a Chinese show, Mummy?” (Yes, you can tell he just loves the language). But once the show started, he tried to suppress his smiles initially (since he was supposed to be upset at attending a Mandarin show remember?), and after a while couldn’t help himself and started laughing out loud! Hooray The Little Company! :)

My younger boy totally surprised me. From the start he was immersed in the experience. Responding to the actors, laughing at the jokes that he could understand, and overall had a blast! I was so happy to see him really enjoying himself!

I really like this direction that The Little Company is taking to do Mandarin versions of their shows. They have done quite a few now – The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, The Nightingale, The Ugly Duckling and now The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I think it’s great to have high quality Mandarin productions that the children can enjoy. Would love to see more of such shows!

Who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge! Photo credit: SRT.

If you are looking for a March holiday activity to bring your kids for, I strongly recommend 三只山羊!

The show is on at the DBS Arts Centre until 25 March 2016. Get your tickets through the SISTIC website or call their hotline (6348 5555).

 

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Disclaimer: We were given complementary tickets to watch the show. However, all opinions are my own. 

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The good folks at The Little Company have outdone themselves! What a treat it was to catch Treasure Island!

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Even though I was confident that the story alone would make this an interesting show, I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about the lead role of this classic tale being taken on by a female. And I was wondering how they were going to bring the audience onto the ship, the Hispaniola. But my concerns were unfounded and the show was superb!

The kids were very excited to go for Treasure Island and had re-read their Treasure Island book in anticipation of the show. Even Alyssa was familiar with the words ‘Treasure Island’ after I read to her A Shapes Primer: Treasure Island a few times. On the day itself they even dressed to the theme.

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Their Treasure Island inspired t-shirt designs on their Tangram Tees

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A spot of Tasty biscuit sword fighting during the interval

The kids were completely absorbed by the show, and there were many humourous parts sprinkled here and there to lighten the story. They were especially tickled by the O’Brien and how he described his abilities and why he should be brought along for the voyage. He was the character that provided the most laughs. Even after we went home they were singing his “I have hands, I am strong” song.

Dwayne Lau, Ann Lek and Mitchell Lagos in TLC's Treasure Island

(L to R) Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins and O’Brien

It’s hard to say which was the main highlight – the cast, the songs or the set, because they were all so good!

The cast featured familiar faces that we had seen in other performances, and I was happy to see them thrown together in this show. In fact, several of them were my favourite actors from separate productions, so this was really a high powered cast that was put together for Treasure Island. Together they made a great team and each played their characters (some of them taking on multiple roles) with such aplomb.

Tan Shou Chen, Ann Lek and Erwin Shah Ismail in TLC's Treasure Island

Treasure!

The songs were fabulous! How else can I describe this? You really got to listen for yourself. “Life on the Sea” was beautifully arranged, and there was the wonderful number “The Coconuts and Me” by Ben Gunn (played by Kimberly Chan). I would consider purchasing a copy of the CD if there was one on sale!

I loved the sets too, especially the ship. You really felt like you were on board the ship with them. At one point one of the characters threw something overboard, and I expected to hear a splash! That’s how well they brought you into the story! From the Admiral Benbow Inn, to the ship, to an island filled with coconut trees, the sets were all very well done.

Dwayne Lau, Mitchell Lagos, Ann Lek, Erwin Shah Ismail, Tan Shou Chen and Kimberly Chan in TLC's Treasure Island

Just look at that gorgeous set! And the lovely costumes!

The show ends on a positive note with the power of friendship to make things family friendly, and it was good for the kids to see how someone can turn over a new leaf. It ends on a high, and you leave feeling extremely satisfied.

Erwin Shah Ismail. Kimberly Chan, Dwayne Lau, Ann Lek, Mitchell Lagos and Tan Shou Chen in TLC's Treasure Island

Enemies turned friends

There are only a few days left (the show ends its run on 13 Dec), and if you haven’t already caught the show, I highly highly recommend it. It is probably my favourite show by The Little Company so far!

Tickets are available through the SISTIC website and the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

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Disclaimer: We were given 4 complementary tickets to watch the show, but all opinions are my own. 

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Ahoy there! Somethin’ excitin’ is comin’ o’er yer way come the end of October! Better be on the lookout for it, me hearties!

Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) The Little Company (TLC) will be staging the exciting and swashbuckling story of Treasure Island from 30 Oct 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre.

A new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s popular novel of the same name, Treasure Island follows the adventure of Jim Hawkins, who receives a treasure map from a kooky old seaman. Jim is tasked to help find the hidden treasure, but the road to riches is never smooth sailing. In this version of the Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins is cast as a lion-hearted 13-year-old girl rather than a boy, possibly to appeal to the girls, though I think the story itself should be compelling enough.

Look out for other colourful characters like Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawney, and of course, Long John Silver!

Treasure Island promises to be a hilarious and action-packed musical about friendship and trust, and is suitable for the whole family! It’s a great way to welcome the year-end holidays, and reward the kids for working so hard throughout the school year.

My boys have read Treasure Island the book and really enjoy the story. So much so that when Ellery saw a children’s illustrated version of the book at the Book Swop at the recent Octoburst Festival, he exchanged a book for it even though we already have the longer version at home.

We sure are looking forward to joining those buccaneers on an adventure to find gold! Argghh!!

Treasure Island is being staged from 30 Oct – 13 Dec, 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre.
Tickets are available through the SISTIC website or via their hotline (6348 5555).

***Giveaway***

SRT has generously sponsored 1 Family Package (4 tickets) worth $153 for Treasure Island on 7 November, 11am, to be given away to one lucky reader! Please make sure you are available to watch the show at the stated date and time before joining this giveaway. To qualify for the giveaway, please do the following by 28 Oct, 2359H:

  1. Answer the question below by leaving a comment at the end of this post. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win.
    “In The Little Company’s stage adaptation of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins is a girl. True or False?”
  2. Share this post with three friends, and let me know your FB name so that I can verify your entry.

Good luck me hearties! May ya get yer hands on that ticket treasure!

UPDATE (22 Oct 2015)
Instead of just 1 Family Package (4 tickets), SRT will be sponsoring 2 Family Packages to 2 readers! What are you waiting for? Take part in the giveaway now!

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. 

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Ellery skipped school (shh!), and together with Asher and Alyssa we trotted off to catch 金发姑娘和三只熊, otherwise known as Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Mandarin by The Little Company. This Mandarin version is adapted by well-known radio and TV personality, Danny Yeo, and Zhang Lesheng, an award-winning lyricist who has written theme and sub-theme songs for over 90 MediaCorp TV drama serials.

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We had watched the English version a while back, but the kids didn’t seem to remember much about it as they were quite a bit younger then. I was curious to see how this show would play out in Mandarin, and whether the songs and story would work as well when translated from English.

To my surprise I enjoyed it more than the English version! Interestingly, different songs stood out. In the English version, our favourite song was the ‘porridge song’. In Mandarin, we liked the ‘itchy song’ the most, followed by the ‘bear song’ and the ‘beware song’. These songs took on more life when sung in Mandarin, somehow. The songs were much more memorable in Mandarin and I occasionally still have the songs running through my head.

Papa, Mama, and Baby bears

Papa, Mama, and Baby bears (Photo taken from SRT’s Facebook page)

Bears enjoying their porridge (Photo taken from SRT's Facebook page)

Bears enjoying their porridge (Photo taken from SRT’s Facebook page)

I loved the Mandarin puns and thought it was a wonderful opportunity to show the children how Mandarin can enrich a show and make things more interesting. When Goldilocks first saw the bears she was freaking out and kept saying “x-x-x-x-xiong”. Papa Bear then clarified that they were “熊” (xióng – bears) not “凶” (xiōng – fierce). They played on this pun a few times so that the kids could catch it – “熊爸爸” (bear papa) and not “凶爸爸” (fierce papa). It was also funny when Mama Bear wanted to calm Goldilocks down and told Papa Bear, “把小熊给她!” He then tried to pick up Baby Bear to give to Goldilocks! She actually meant the teddy bear, which can also be called 小熊! I pointed out to the boys that these jokes would not have been possible in English. Teddy Bear and Baby Bear wouldn’t have been interchangeable, neither would there have been a fierce daddy/bear daddy pun. They were quite tickled by this and went to ask Jon if he was a 凶 or 熊 daddy at night.

Goldilocks

Goldilocks (Photo taken from SRT’s Facebook page)

There was very good chemistry among the actors, and they really brought the show together. The best part was the entire segment where the bears suspected someone had intruded into their house and found Goldilocks asleep. It was hilarious, not just because of the puns, but because Mama and Papa bear looked so terribly annoyed. You feel like they are convinced that the intruder, by eating their porridge, sitting in their chairs, and lying in the beds, has committed an absolutely unforgivable act and must be severely punished!

Discovering Goldilocks asleep in Baby Bear's bed! (Photo taken from SRT's Facebook page)

Discovering Goldilocks asleep in Baby Bear’s bed! (Photo taken from SRT’s Facebook page)

The only bit that didn’t quite work with the audience was when Goldilocks was singing about girls being capable and independent. I remember this didn’t quite work in the English version either. It’s a good message but I think the language is a bit too sophisticated for many of the young kids attending the show. That was just a very small part of the show though. Overall, it’s a very good production.

Asher, who was at first a bit reluctant to watch a show in Mandarin, declared afterwards that he really liked the show! I think that’s good endorsement :)

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Mandarin) runs until 29 Mar 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre. You can get your tickets from the SISTIC website or call the ticketing hotline (63485555).

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We received complementary tickets for this show. All opinions are my own.

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Ever since our successful outing to watch a performance in Mandarin last year, I’ve been on the lookout for other Mandarin shows, especially those with familiar story lines. The upcoming production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears by the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Little Company (TLC) fits the bill. TLC is lauching its 2015 season with a Mandarin version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears which was first staged in English in 2013 to sell-out houses.

CHIgoldilocks_A3_301014

Like the English version, the Mandarin production will feature music and lyrics by the Laurence Olivier award-winning West-End musical theatre songwriting duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. We watched the English version and I remember the boys liking the porridge song very much, so I’m really looking forward to hearing that sung in Mandarin.

Mina Kaye, Dwayne Tan, Kristy Griffin and Aaron Khaled in SRT's The Little Company's Goldilocks and the Three Bears (2013) (1)

Shocked to find a girl in Baby Bear’s bed! (Picture courtesy of SRT, taken from the 2013 English production)

This is a classic story that teaches young children not to fiddle with the belongings of others, lest there be consequences to bear. If you loved the English version, don’t miss the chance to join the cast as they bring your child on an exciting Mandarin journey!

** Giveaway**

SRT has kindly sponsored 2 tickets to be given away to one reader for Goldilicks and the Three Bears in Mandarin on Sunday, 15 Mar, 11am.

To qualify, simply leave a comment below by 12 Feb (Thu), 6pm stating what would upset you most – having your porridge eaten, your chair broken, or your bed slept in – and why! Don’t forget to leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Bear hugs to everyone!

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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Christmas started early for us this year. We attended the opening show for Junior Claus and were treated to a charming story about the young Junior Claus who is Santa’s son. He tries to save Christmas from being ruined forever by Grumpo the greedy elf who took control of Santa’s workshop after Santa fell into a deep sleep due to the Belief-o-Meter falling to dangerously low levels.

Junior Claus_MAIN VISUAL

It felt good listening to the Christmas songs piped into the theatre before the show started, and I thought it was especially important for our particular show since it was (and still is) a long way from Christmas. Perhaps that was why the Christmas buzz wasn’t quite filling the theatre as much as it could have. But I really believe it’ll get more and more ‘buzz-y’ as Christmas draws nearer. Kudos to the cast for giving their best to invoke the Spirit of Christmas at the start of November!

Dwayne Tan (who reminded me of the earnest Woody from Toy Story), put in a good effort at portraying Junior’s eagerness to make improvements to Santa’s workshop and his lack of belief in the Christmas magic. Junior tried to find practical and logical ways to do things instead of believing in the Christmas magic. It did feel abrupt when he suddenly did believe, but I suppose that has to do with the flow of the story. It was at the end when Junior spoke about what Christmas was really all about that I felt his conviction. That part was quite moving and I felt something stir inside me. I hope the kids felt it too.

Chipper the elf (Seong Hui Xuan) and Junior (Dwayne Tan) flying off to Singapore with Dasher (Benjamin Chow)

Chipper the elf (Seong Hui Xuan) and Junior (Dwayne Tan) flying off to Singapore with Dasher (Benjamin Chow)

I loved Timothy Wan as Grumpo! He made Grumpo evil but endearing, and one of my favourite characters from the show. Grumpo’s plan to corner the toy market and force parents to pay ultra exhorbitant prices for gifts was just wicked and wonderfully innovative, and hopefully that never happens, ha!

But my favourite character has to be Pengy the penguin. Cheryl Tan again put in a fantastic performance. I remembered her from Rapunzel and she further impressed this time around by playing two characters with panache. The boys and I loved the talkative and ever-positive Pengy. Like really loved him. Like really really loved him (watch and you’ll know what I mean). The minute Pengy appeared, the entire show was lifted as Cheryl filled the stage with her presence. It was wonderful how she spoke and sang with different accents for the characters and threw herself into making them believable.

Junior (Dwayne Tan) and Pengy (Cheryl Tan)

Junior and Pengy (Cheryl Tan)

One thing that would make the show even better, I thought, was if the music could be turned down a little, or the volume of the feed from the cast could be increased. It sometimes felt like the music was drowning out the voices of the cast members, particularly those who had voices that weren’t so strong. As a result, I thought it was sometimes difficult for the kids to catch the words of the songs.

The cast of Junior Claus

The cast of Junior Claus

Overall, this is a fun-filled show to bring your kids to this holiday season, and will be a real treat as Christmas gets closer! Although the recommended age is 5 years and above, Ellery, who turns 4 on Christmas day, was able to follow the story and still remembers what was said in the show. I was so surprised to hear him say, two weeks on, that “you don’t have to understand, you just need to believe”. What an appropriate takeaway for Christmas.

Junior Claus is showing at the DBS Arts Centre until 14 Dec 2014. Tickets are available via the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555).

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We received complementary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

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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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