WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!

orang utan

Heh! I’ve always wanted to title a blog post like that. In this case, there is at least some semblance of logical justification for it. I was in Singapore a few weeks ago and one of the things that we did was have breakfast with orang utans. There were also pythons for you to hold, it was a great start to the morning, truth to be told.

python

However, the highlights of my trip there were mostly towards the arts and theater scene that Singapore has to offer. I bugged Kristine to organize my itinerary around this show by Yukichi Matsumoto which I have been itching to catch. It showed at the Singapore Arts Festival 2011 and this is the first time the Ishinha theater group has done a performance outside of Japan.

entrance

Ishinha has very high standards for their stages and choreography. They build the set and props themselves and they’re quite partial about how it turns out. It was one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen. It’s held outdoors and I love the passion they put into their work – “This is a rain or shine event”.

rain shine

I expected this to be a niche show but I was surprised to see the packed. There were two Japanese men seated to my right and a bunch of Caucasians on holiday on my left. The seats are stadium type wooden boards – no frills but we managed to sit very comfortably by NOT sitting on the seats itself but on the one below you and using your seat as a backrest.

seating

I can’t credit myself for that though – the bunch of Caucasian ladies started sliding down and I thought that looked like a mighty fine position to be sitting in. You’re not disturbing anyone and your chiropractor would thank you for it. It’s all about the back support. Thus, I slid down as well and the woman grinned at me and said “It’s much more comfortable this way, eh?”

Yes, it is ma’am. Yes indeed. :)

programme

When A Grey Taiwanese Cow Stretched is a 120 minute performance with no intervals. You have to come in before it starts or the doors close. That’s the way to go about it. No disturbances from late arrivals.

I was actually very surprised by the performance. I expected it to be good but it just went and blew my mind.

ishinha

The stage structure is built in front of a city landscape which is integral to the story as a juxtaposition. When A Grey Taiwanese Cow Stretched explores a lot of themes from migrants, to the war and occupation of Japanese troops and how it affects their people. It’s all in Japanese and there’s subtitles to the side but what I really enjoyed was they way it was performed.

In lieu of dialogue, they use a form of rap to communicate. Known as Jan Jan Opera language, it’s a kind of Osakan street rap – it goes from a rapid staccato to a slow, ponderous chant. It’s quite unique and a very effective way to get the narrative across.

when a grey taiwanese cow stretched

It’s a very intense performance, especially if you have good seats (Thanks Kristine!). Don’t be surprised to see a troop of performers staring you down and intensely shouting about the pain they feel. One particular bit of dialogue that I found very well executed and poignant is:

You had affairs!
South American women.
With big bottoms!
Did you notice their breasts?
Shangri-la.
Paradise, isn’t it?
*sarcastic

I just wish I had enough money leftover to buy the soundtrack, it’s definitely worth it.

artscience museum

I also visited the ArtScience Museum for Salvador Dali’s work. The museum is shaped like a lotus (though some say it looks like a baseball mitt, including myself) and it’s actually quite vast inside.

I don’t think captions would do the great man’s work justice so I’m just going to post up the photos:

dali

melting clock

statue

The other thing that I really enjoyed was The Lion King at Marina Bay Sands Singapore.

pride rock

I’ve seen the West End production but the Singapore one was even better. The acoustics and the seating arrangements beats the one in Lyceum Theater near Convent Garden.

It’s just progress – the Marina Bay Sands theater is just more modern.

I also loved how they localized The Lion King Musical with a sprinkling of Mandarin and references to the Merlion. Don’t expect them to break into a refrain of “The (Mer)lion sleeps tonight” but there’s enough little touches that differentiates it and it’s an awesome performance by a new cast assembled from around the world.

pumba

Now, why don’t we get all this stuff in Malaysia? Oh well, at least I can visit Singapore instead of flying all the way to London next time I want to see a good theater performance.

lion king cast

Oh, by the way these are some of the upcoming performances in Singapore:

Cirque Éloize iD – Now until 26 June 2011
Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite Live -29 June 2011
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber – 7 to 17 July 2011
Korean Music Wave 2011 – 15 July 2011
Paramore Live in Concert – 21 Aug 2011

If you’re interested in all that Singapore has to offer, hop on over to YourSingapore.com where there’s something for everyone!

PJ Life Arts – The God of Carnage ticket giveaway on sixthseal.com!

PJ Life Arts is showing a comedy play called The God of Carnage and I’ve got two pairs of tickets to be given away thanks to Nuffnang! I’ve always loved the theatre and performances – it’s not “just live movies in real 3D” (as a film critic quipped) – it’s much better than that!

God of Carnage

I’ve acted in a play during my high school in New Zealand and it takes a lot of practise, improvisation and quick thinking if you mess up your lines. I have a lot of respect for the people who do this and you’ll be pleased by the cast in The God of Carnage – Lina Teoh, Will Quah, Maya Tan and Megat Sharizal will be the leads in this production!

This is a play that everyone can relate to – the competition, the bottled up anger and the thinly veiled jealousy forms a large part of our daily interactions with others. The script just adds a dose of humor to all of that. You can read the synopsis here.

This show is rated 18-PL so please (as the popular sign on bars go) “B 18 or B Gone”. ;)

Show: The God of Carnage
Date & Time: 25th April 2011, 8:30 PM (Monday)
Location: PJ Life Arts, Jaya One
Ticket Giveaway: 2 pairs (4 tix) worth RM 60 each for two winners

We all need a bit of laughter in our lives. There will be two winners – just like there are two families in the play – who’ll get to watch this for free! The winners will get two (2) tickets each so you can bring a friend along. :D

Nuffnang will contact you to confirm your attendance and hand out the tickets for this 1 hour and 30 minute comedy. I’ll be passing them the details of the winners from the contest on sixthseal.com. As such, kindly ensure that your email address in the comments is correct so I can get in touch. Join us in watching The God of Carnage at PJLA!

Just share a funny story or incident involving your family by commenting before 6 pm on the 22nd April 2011 (Friday). The two funniest comments will win these tickets! :)

See you there!

Wicked the Musical in London

wicked the musical

Wicked the Musical is one of the best musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s currently showing at Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Yup, I caught the West End cast in this award winning production! :)

wicked

Wicked is actually based on the first of a trilogy of books by Gregory Maguire called Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Most of you would have watched or read The Wizard of Oz at some point in your childhood. It’s a good movie but ultimately suffers from being based on a children’s book – it’s all black and white, good versus evil.

wicked book

As you grow older, such concepts are foreign, nay, an insult to your intelligence, in a world you know has no such absolutes. It’s all shades of gray and Wicked will appeal to the older audience. The book and the musical adaptation has quite a few differences though – the book is darker and Dorothy does not make an appearance in the written word.

wicked glinda

However, I love the musical coz it weaves everything together and portrays Elphaba (the name of the Wicked Witch of the West) as a revolutionary who fights for the rights of Animals. She is ultimately a very misunderstood character and you can’t help but feel sorry for her.

wicked ticket

I managed to get reasonably good seats for 62.50 pounds (about RM 300) – it’s the very front row in the middle of the Dress Circle. I was impressed by the props on stage as well – the animatronic bird (?) hovering over the stage like a large pterodactyl that comes alive when the Wizard of Oz makes his speeches is awe inspiring!

apollo victoria wicked

The orchestra playing in front of the stage is so good that I went and bought the CD + program for 20 pounds. Wicked the Musical is probably best known for the song “Defying Gravity” which also appeared in an episode of Glee (the one with the wheelchairs in Season One).

wicked program cd

I won’t spoil the story for you but basically the musical is about Glinda (The Good Witch of the South), Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) and Nessa (The Wicked Witch of the East) during their days in school.

orchestra

The witches weren’t known as such then (Glinda is such a selfish airhead) and the incredibly sad and touching series of events which culminated in the death of Nessa (damn Madame Morrible) and the vilification of poor Elphaba will bring a tear to even the most stone hearted man. >.<

elphaba

The production runs for about 3 hours, including an intermission between Act I and Act II and I cannot recommend it strongly enough for those with an interest in theatre (and even those without). If you only watch one musical in your lifetime, let it be Wicked. I got so angry at Galinda and felt so sorry for Elphaba even though it’s just great acting.

I can relate so much to Elphaba. T_T

No one mourns the wicked. :(

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