Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review: 'She Ain't Heavy, She's Reaching Into Space' by TheatreWorks

She Ain't Heavy, She's Reaching Into Space
by TheatreWorks

Conceived and performed by Eng Kai-Er and Faye Lim
28 to 29 July 2016 at 72-13
Reviewed by Alvin Koh Ming-Chuen

I wish I am not reviewing this show although I am dying to put down my thoughts! Not because this show is bad or good, not because of any other reasons except that I wish more humans have a chance to watch or re-watch it. Read on and you might understand why I used the word 'humans'.

The comprehensively write-up and Q and A provided by TheatreWorks and the performers, Kai and Faye, aptly describe the processes and their aims and so I will not say anything overtly overlapping.

What rocks in the piece seems to be the unexpected element in the 'what I can expect from Kai-Er's work',( since she is widely known as an unconventional performer in dance and other genres or hybrid-gneres.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Interview: Brendan-Keefe Au and Ayano Schramm-Kimura - 2 Aug 2016

Its been a while since we've seen Brendan Keefe-Au perform on a proper concert onstage. This time he will be joined by Bangkok-based soprano Ayano Schramm-Kimura and pianist Yi Kai in a programme entitled A Little Bit of Magic.

Printed copies of photography by Cynthia Ong-Lamb and a booklet poetry by Pamela Ng will also be given to audiences. Looks like its going to be a great opportunity to be acquainted with different aspects of Singaporean arts. Check out the interview below to find out more!

The Mad Scene: Tell us about your programme, what are you performing and why did you choose these selections?

Brendan: Hi Steven! Thanks for having us on The Mad Scene, always a pleasure.

Our upcoming recital is entitled A Little Bit of Magic, Ayano and I will be performing songs themed around magic with our good friend, pianist Sim Yikai. This is a concept recital, so we are going to do more than just music—we are going to explore the theme of magic through a combination of art song, original photography and original poetry.

I’ll talk about the music first. The programme is essentially mixed. You will hear songs and piano solos across different styles and periods in English, German and French. We will have five sub-themes: 1.) Magic in the forest, 2.) In the waters, 3.) In the heavens, 4.) In faraway places, and finally, 5.) In the mundane.

Expect to meet the legendary but evil Elf-King of Scandinavian folklore; travel to the wizard Prospero’s island in The Tempest; and hear the water sprite of Slavic fairytales, Rusalka, sing to the moon. These are but just some of the spellbinding stories that we are so privileged to share with the audience.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

MBS's Shaolin: Video Preview and Review

MBS Mastercard Theaters, Marina Bay
13 July 2016

Review by Hawk Liu

The video below was taken at the media event where we saw excerpts of the show's finale. I managed to also eavesdrop onto an interview with the show's manager, Steve Nolan. He gave a brief account on how the show was put together and how the Shaolin traditions have evolved with the times.

I asked him a question which I didn't manage to put on video - I thought Shaolin was originally for Shaolin monks and so why were there women in the show. He explained that one of the 5 surviving members of the Shaolin massacre was a woman! Well I learn something new everyday!

With historical Shaolin images as the backdrop, real Shaolin monks and students gave a sincere demonstration of their arts. The story was told of the massacre of the Shaolin monks by the emperor in ancient Chinese history, and how the 5 surviving members of the Shaolin exponents carried on the traditions till this day.

There were flying acrobatics, bare human bodies countering sharp metal objects and lively weapon fights. The long whips were swung over the audience so that I, sitting in the 3rd row, was cringing as the whips seem to have went over our heads. Actors in full costumes played various roles to fill the gaps in the story. Two lady musicians in costume enhanced the prerecorded music with live playing on various instruments.

While we were only shown a few scenes in the preview, the full show promises even more spectacular feats - we will get to see performers perform a handstand on two fingers, breaking a slab of concrete over two men lying on a bed of nails, breaking iron bars on the head and being lifted above the ground on spear points. This along with the tightly choreographed dance and fight routines make this show an inspiring testament to human endurance and determination.

Shaolin runs till 31 July 2016. Check out the Events Page for tickets!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Interview with NYC Vocal Coaches - Shane Schag and Chun-Wei Kang

Vocal coaches Shane Schag and Chun-Wei Kang, teachers at NYC's famed Manhattan School of Music, will be teaching in Singapore from 9 to 16 July, with a public masterclass at Madison Academy of Music on 10 July. Slots for private classes and the masterclass are still available. Check out!blank/yf326 and!musical-theatre-1/nwizp for more information and book a slot for your class!

We had a discussion with both Shane and Chun-Wei to understand the finer points of vocal coaching, and what we can look forward to in their teaching trip to Singapore. Here's what we talked about:

The Mad Scene: Take us back to the beginning, what inspired you back then that made you choose vocal coaching as your current profession?

Chun-Wei: I have always loved story-telling and languages so, when I was introduced to vocal coaching in my Master's, I thought it would be perfect for me. I have been enjoying figuring out the story lines, and finding different colors in different languages with the singers.

Shane: I grew up playing for singers in my father's local church and was "bitten by the collaborative bug" from an early age. I have always loved the social aspect of vocal coaching and enjoy watching singers find the full potential of their instrument. For me, this has been a key motivating factor from the beginning.

Vocal coach Chun-Wei Kang