Wednesday, December 8, 2010

REVIEW: Cinderel-LAH! by Wild Rice

Esplanade Theatre (Singapore), Saturday December 4

Wild Rice production of Cinderel-LAH! offered the best in community theatre but not the best in value-for-money.

During my weekend in Singapore, I went to see the Wild Rice production of Cinderel-LAH! (A Magical Musical Pantomime). I chose this because I have seen their production of Animal Farm early this year here in Hong Kong and I enjoyed it. (See my review of Animal Farm

What I got out of this pantomime though was very far from the standard and sophistication of Animal Farm. While Animal Farm has all the qualities of a production suitable for a major arts festival, Cinderel-LAH! was conceptually insular and unfocused.

With the emphasis of LAH in Cinderal-LAH!, local spin on the fairy-tale was inevitably expected. The story was about Cindy and her evil casino-obsessed step-mother and two ugly step-sisters, Precious and Treasure. Cindy’s love interest was transformed from Prince Charming to Prince Char Mee and the ball became The Grand Fish Ball.

This production suffered from being in a big theatre, having gratuitous numbers so that First Stage (Wild Rice’s training arm) kids have something to perform in and expensive tickets. With ticket prices ranging from ~HK$240 to ~HK$600, either one can’t help but to expect a top-notch production or treat it as a charity to a community theatre.

If one is not to consider the ticket prices and treat it as a piece of amateur community theatre, I think it was not bad at all. The local reference was funny and almost still as relevant as it was first conceived in 2003. The strength of the show lies on the well-written songs (lyrics by Selena Tan and music by Elaine Chan) and very competent musical performers such as Emma Yong (Cindy) and Sebastian Tan (Prince Char Mee). While some of the other performers may not excatly be the best singers, every major role was infused with great comedic timing and commitment.

The experience didn't deter me though from buying every single Wild Rice recording I can find in the Esplanade shop.

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