Monday, December 6, 2010

Cinderel-LAH! She's Not Just A Sengkang Maid

The theatre scene has been heating up on our Red Dot Island the last few years. Before that, affordable and entertaining plays worth attending were few and the target audience tended to be very high-brow.

Local theatre companies have bloomed once they realized that they could be arty and yet reach the hearts of the masses. By crafting a theatre schedule that consisted of a good mix of localized, easy-to-digest themes coupled with less generic and darker ones, they managed to find their footing with a growingly more sophisticated Red Dot Island audience.

One of these companies, W!ld Rice, has pulled in some successes recently with "Animal Farm" and "Boeing Boeing". For the year-end festive season, W!ld Rice has decided to go all colourful and cheery with their 10th anniversary celebratory pantomime, "Cinderel-LAH!"

The classic rags-to-princess fairy tale has been updated and given a very local Red Dot Islandic twist.

In this version, Cindy lives in a cramped Sengkang HDB flat with a MBS-gambler evil step-mother (Neo Swee Lin) - all gloriously aunti-fied with big hair and leopard-preenz (Boomz!) - and two really ugly step-sisters, Precious and Treasure (Chua Enlai and Darius Tan). Poor Cindy sometimes get abused by her two step-sisters and locked in the toilet when they want to punish her. Cindy's best friend is a cheery Filipino maid next door named Mercy.

On the side of rich landed-property-ness are the Lees. King (Lim Kay Siu) and Queen Lee (Karen Lim) are seafood business owners specializing in crabs. The royalty couple of the local zichar scene is eager to celebrate the "coming out" of their son, Prince Char-Mee (Sebastian Tan) - who actually loves poetry. Really. *Loves.*

There's also a shiny and tall Fairy God MakChik (Najip Ali) who helps get Cindy to the "Fish" Ball. Acting as narrators of the story are Indian mama-stall husband and wife team, Ali and Jeya (both by Gurmit Singh).

By re-staging the musical production in a bigger, grander venue - the Esplanade - the pantomime is definitely given more oomph.

Emma Yong is expectedly girlish as Cindy. Her sweet voice always fitting the "Disney princess-type roles". Her Cindy is nicely countered by Sebastian's rather blur but surprisingly charming Char Mee. Red Dot Diva actually enjoyed Sebastian's voice and he gave a rather good pop-rock rendition of the songs, especially in "A Song of True Love".

The highlight of the play has still got to be Gurmit Singh. Red Dot Diva finds Gurmit mostly a chore to watch on the local TV series "PCK". But in "Cinderel-LAH!", his lively interaction with the audience, lampooning of Indian stereotypes and jokes were pretty much spot-on. He was quite brilliant!

The best drag performances in local theatre these days just has to be the duo Darius and En Lai. Having watched both of them in "Beauty and the Beast" (also by W!ld Rice), they have reprised their crass sashaying once again for this production. Red Dot Diva has to admit that En Lai's legginess and hip swivels put many women to shame. *shudder*

One of the parts where Red Dot Diva guffawed the most was the unexpected dig at that annoying "Train is coming" MRT ditty by the Dim Sum Dollies (of which the play's writer Selena Tan and Emma Yong are part of). That was absolutely classic!

There were also funny *nudge-nudge* moments where the jokes were pretty off-coloured but they flew by so quickly that many might not have caught them, and they would luckily gone over the heads of the young 'uns sitting in the audience too.

Red Dot Diva is certain that those whose hearts melt whenever they see cute little kids singing and prancing on stage would simply love "Cinderel-LAH!". One scene was cute for Red Dot Diva, but it was cuteness overload when she saw the third children-filled scene on stage.

In the end, all's well that ends well in this fairy tale. Even Evil Step-mother gets redeemed enough to set the right happy tone for the festive season.

Gaudy, psychedelic and raucous. Red Dot Diva warbles a Red Dot showtune on this fun-filled local production.

Foreigners might not get all the local barbs unless they have been a FT (that's Ffffffff-oreign Talent for those who don't know) on the island for awhile. And if one is expecting a grand classy Broadway style musical, this play wouldn't be it either.

But despite its rather long-winded interludes (like that journey around the world segment.. *yawn*), Red Dot Diva found "Cinderel-LAH!" entertaining and a good way to relak after a tough day at work. It's also a play that one can definitely bring the entire family to.

The pantomime ends its run this Saturday, 11th December.

So... Go watch it lah! Won't regret it, one.

To give an added Christmas sparkle, here's the cast's Christmas greetings!

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! Pretty cool to know so many prominent local actors are a part of this play.