5.26.2015

Capitol Theatre reopens with Singapura



Capitol Theatre
MEDIA INVITE
 
The Grande Dame of theatre is back!

Capitol Theatre reopens its doors to public after a 17 years hiatus . Build in 1929 , Capitol Theatre been slated as a conservative building. It is now a part of Capitol Singapore which consist of Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building and Stamford House. The heritage project cost 1.1 billion to refurbished and would add 542,000 square feet of vibrant space to Singapore's theatre, dining and nightlife.

Capitol Theatre
Together with the Missus, I had the pleasure to be invited to Singapura : The Musical for its gala performance last week. In honestly, the main draw of the event was to be one of the first to enjoy a night at Capitol Theatre. Afterall it was a spot that sprouted many lovebirds in its heydays, making it the perfect destination for a rare date night with the wife.
Dome
It was great to know that the neo Classical elements were retained in the restoration . The fame dome ceiling with the 12 zodiac signs are given a fresh coat of golden hues . Further detailings were added around the dome to enhance its historical feel.
Pegasus
The other notable restoration is the Pegasus flanking the stage. Oldies who were familiar with the theatre would love the element of familiarity in the theatre. The neon Capitol Theatre signage was also painstakingly restored.The modern touch to the theatre is mostly invisible. From the new state of the art sound systems to the rotational floor system that can transform the stall sitting area to flat floor, this allows Capitol theatre to be a multi functional venue. In fact the new Capitol Theatre is a dual functional venue with cinematic and theatrical capabilities.
Given its historical status as a prominent Singapore icon, several Singapore related performances will be making its appearance at the Grande Dame. To kickoff, Singapura : The musical will have its global opening in Capitol Theatre. Thereafter 7 Letters, a home grown cinematic project and the highly anticipated 1965 movie , which recounts the life of The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew will be shown. We are glad to be part of this historical unveiling with the gala premier of Singapura : The Musical.

Singapura : The Musical
Singapura
A little bit of Singapore's past returns with the unveiling of Capitol Theatre. Singapura : The Musical is a story set between 1955 to 1965. This decade of strife is symbolic of the road to indepence of Singapore. The story centers around a family living through the period and the many challenges they face.Since it is the gala premiere, The Missus and I were dressed to the nines in eager anticipation of the show. Will the show lived up to its hype?
Photo credit : 4th Wall Theatre Co
The musical aspires to be Boardway standard. With scenes channeling the spirit of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, it holds promises to be a world class performance. Catchy tunes such as "At the Kopitam" gives it a familiar local flavour.
Photo credit : 4th Wall Theatre Co
Given our 'vantage' view way back in the dress circles seats , it was impossible to make out the expressions of the actors and actress. Visually , the stage appeared like a 32 inch screen. To do a fair review of individual performances at this distance would be injustice to the production. As it was visually challenging ,we had to rely on our ears to make the judgement call on the quality of the show.
That said, we do not recommend Dress Circles seats for musicals if you desire a fully immersive experience.
Our view for the evening
Vocally, the cast held its own. The standout act will no doubt be Marian Santiago as the lead Tan Lee May. With her strong vocals, she had several notable scene during the musical.
Photo Credit : 4th Wall Theatre Co
As compelling as the potential of the musical promises, the actual show did fall short in certain places. With a title like Singapura, you would expect the historical moments to take the centerstage. Instead it was demoted to literally mere backdrops during the play. In its place, the frivolous plot of not one but two Inter-racial love stories. Given that it is the 1950/60s , it is probably a rare in reality and the stories were seemingly inspired by Miss Saigon. Perhaps a more appropriate title for the musical should be Singapura : A love Story. As a date movie, this probably works. To view it from a historical perspective, it hits a flat note. 

The predominately vocally talented foreign cast strained in their interpretation of Singlish. Ask any local audience and it would be obvious that the use of lah in this musical was a major faux pas with its unfamiliar accent. The inclusion of the character Man in White may have given the musical the much needed political touch to live up to its title. However the opportunity was lost when it was obvious that Mr Lee Kuan Yew ,whom the former represented ,would make a better (and more realistic) character and give the legitimacy the musical lacks. Perhaps the potential copyright of his name made this option unavailable.

Singapura was composed and directed by a foreigner and ironically it was reflected in this musical. As a love story, it has its moments. As a historical representation of Singapore, it is wanting. Broadway might be calling , but it has to pass the local acid test first.
The cast
"I wrote it in such a way that when a Singaporean sees this, he'll say, 'This is me.'" - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/theatre-dance/story/musical-singapore-starring-filipinos-and-written-filipinos-aims-broadw#sthash.fP6YTt1f.dpuf
"I wrote it in such a way that when a Singaporean sees this, he'll say, 'This is me.'" - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/theatre-dance/story/musical-singapore-starring-filipinos-and-written-filipinos-aims-broadw#sthash.fP6YTt1f.dpuf
The best way to sum up this musical is a respond to the following quote by Mr Ed Gatchalian, the composer of Singapura,

'I wrote it in such a way that when a Singaporean sees this, he'll say. "This is me." '
As a Singaporean who watched the show, I find it hard to agree.

The Little Details
Singapura : The musical
19 May to 7 June
Capitol Theatre
Get your tickets here

Disclaimer
The Wacky Duo parents were invited to the Gala. As the boys were too young to watch the musical, we used this chance to have a date night. All opinions are of our own. Your personal experience may be different at the same show.





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