I was privileged enough to be invited by DBS to attend SPARKS, The Musical (performed from 3rd – 5th Aug) to commemorate the bank’s 50th anniversary. The gala show was attended by Guest of Honour Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as many of the bank’s leaders and employees from the early years.
It was purely a coincidence that the Rainforest World Music Festival held yearly at Kuching (Sarawak, Malaysia) falls exactly on the week I was there for a short getaway. My friend snagged tickets for 2 few days before we arrived at Kuching.
A quick search on Google tells me that not only does this 3-days international music festival from 13 – 15 July involve just music performances but also a cultural enlightenment for most of us. Activities include wellness programs, hands-on workshops on how to play an indigenous instruments and more.
Probably one of my most unusual night’s out with my friends as we spent our 2 hours in Esplanade theatre watching a ballet performance titled “Giselle”. It was my first time and never in my life I would expect myself sitting in theatre watching a ballet performance.
“Giselle” is a ballet performance in 2 acts, featuring choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, as it remains one of the well loved classics in the company’s history. With the hint of romance and betrayal, I had to decipher the entire storyline based on the performers acting and facial expression since no dialogue were involved at all. I guess it would be normal for my friends and I to sort of got ”lost” midway yet roughly understood the storyline in the end.
Anyway it was great to see interesting medieval style props as well as beautiful costumes worn by the performers/actors, maybe the term ballerinas would perhaps be more accurate. I also noticed each jump, hop or whatever movements were in sync with the background classical music as well. By watching them performed on their toes, it definitely looks tiring and requires plenty of practise.
Still, that night was an eye-opener for me even though ballet just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. At least I get to experience watching such a unique performance.
Pangdemonium’s Fundraiser Concert – THE JAM has started and I still could not believe myself being seated on the second row, smacked right in the middle of the Esplanade Concert Hall! I was one of the fortunate few to be invited by DBS as a SPARKS fan.
Just a short recap, SPARKS is a mini series of episodes by DBS that is inspired by true stories, featuring a group of young bankers as they navigate work and personal lives. They challenged the status quo and went beyond when solving unusual client challenges. (You may want to also check out my previous when DBS launches SPARK episode 6 at DBS Asia X).
The 7th episode has been up and running and in this latest episode, Sparks saw an all Singapore cast including Jaime Teo, Daren Tan, Noorlinah Mohamed and of course Nathan Hartono whom was one of the singers, together with Benjamin Kheng, Tabitha Nauser, Inch Chua and Andrew Marko performing that night!
Besides the obvious beautiful voices of these 5 talented individuals, they definitely synchronised well while performing as a group. The zest and tons of humour they incorporated into their performance kept the audience wild and hyper! The funniest segment of the performance was when Nathan Hartono and Andrew Marko had a duet, singing out lyrics formed using “bad day” scenerios shouted out by the audience. Hmm, I should have shouted out something challenging for them!
That night ended with me and my friend getting the opportunity to take photos with the 5 stars singers. It was a thrilling experience for me since I hardly get the chance to be star struck!
Thank you DBS for the invite!
As the lights went off while the curtains went up, I was already seated at the edge of my seat, excitedly waiting for the performance to begin. I was least expecting Lawrence to make a grand magical appearance on stage which signalled the commencement of “The Nutcracker”.
For those who might not have known, “The Nutcracker” is an old Christmas classic tale of a young girl’s favourite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, came alive and after defeating the evil rat king in battle, brought her to a magical kingdom populated by dolls.
Jointly produced and presented with a twist from the original “The Nutcracker” by Gateway Entertainment and P’art 1 Design, this magical theatrical production has incorporated countless world-class illusions, known as magic in layman or kiddy terms. With the performance performed by award-winning Lawrance Khong and his daughter Priscilla Khong, together with an international dance troupe of 14 dancers and supported by over 50 backstage crew. No wonder the show had such an excellent and smooth flow of scenarios.
Basically throughout the entire performance, there were almost no narration or dialogue except for maybe a brief introduction by Lawrance. Despite that fact, I could still easily understand and interpret the storyline through the professional acting of the performers. Their facial expressions, movements as well as the multiple dances performed kept me leaning over the edge of my seat since I was seated nearer to the back of the theatre.
My senses were overwhelmed in a positive aspect by the digital screen, an unconventional technological backdrop that displayed special 3D effects and laser-like lights that dances with the rhythm as well as for dramatic enhancement. Not forgetting a running scene where projection was used for a hyper reality effect that kept audiences in awe. Smoke was also incorporated close to the end of the performance.
Elaborated props and colourfully designed costumes definitely deserved a thumbs up as well as such elements added to the overall visual of the performance. I could still remember my fascination as performers appear on stage, each with a totally different yet coherent style of costumes, scenes after scenes. I wouldn’t mind wearing such nice costumes as well too! I went “OMG’ when a realistic structure of a massive branch slowly descended from above. A rhetorical question of how on earth and how much effort and time was needed to make that? I exited my thinking cloud as I preferred to continue enjoying the performance since that particular scene reminded me of the movie “Monster, Inc”.
Tempted to go on and on describing every detail from the different scenarios to the breath taking magic performance but I would never want to spoil surprises. Do take a look at their website and tickets are available to be purchased on https://nutcracker.gateway.sg/.
Thank you Gateway Entertainment and Affluence PR for the magical invite!
Arts In Your Neighbourhood is an initiative by the National Arts Council that brings arts such as dance, music, theatre and visual arts right to our door steps. Since one of the location was held at a rather centralised location of Toa Payoh Central, I had no reason not to make my way down to immerse myself with the series of free performances held there. Just make sure to check out their event highlights before making your way down (in future for other #ArtsInYourNeighbourhood programmes) since there would be multiple different performances/activities from 10-27 March 2016.
I headed over to the iconic dragon playground which was located at Block 28 of Toa Payoh Lorong 6
with the other instagrammers. This dragon playground is one of last few remaining/surviving in Singapore before getting extinct since their habitant has been eyed for other development plans. For some people, it would represent a nostalgia of their childhood while I had no impression of it at all. My childhood just does not revolve around playgrounds.
Despite the sun not showing any mercy on us, many of us were seated on the mats scattered across the grass patch enjoying the story telling session about how this dragon lost its eyes. The context of the story was further enhanced by the musicians playing for added sound effects. Young children were getting really excited over the performance.
Back at Toa Payoh Central, a band of musicians performed a series of songs such as ‘Rasa Sayang Hey’ and ‘Xiao Ren Wu De Xin Sheng’ (小人物的心声). The performance was harmonious and soothing and the lead singer was a beautiful lady being a bonus. Toa Payoh is definitely a good place for such performances since it is a pioneer generation populated residential area and they would support such an event.
Last but not least, another performance that day by ‘The Rainbow Toymaker’ was located at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage, near Jubilee Square. It was a colourful performance by the 3 men act that involved colourful costumes and elaborated props that were mostly handmade. Towards the end where the actors looked for volunteers to participate in simple games and dance moves, there was an overwhelming response from these children as they excitedly rushed up to stage.
After the performance, audiences were allowed to borrow their props for photo taking purposes. That was how I got my picture taken with the blue teddy bear!