Arts & Events, Lifestyle

MW Reviews: The Henderson Project – Vanessa Tai

The Henderson Project is a passion project of Dream Academy, where theatre-goers are guided away from “the beaten theatre path” and onto an intriguing adventure. 

The gritty Henderson Industrial Estate seems like an unlikely venue for experimental theatre. But step inside the Dream Academy studio and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your friend’s home. The studio only accommodates up to 50 people, so it makes you feel like you’re relaxing in a friend’s living room, enjoying an intimate evening of music and conversation. Oh, before you enter the theatre space, make a stop by the makeshift bar and get a glass of beer or wine, or try Selena’s Fried Rice.

The Henderson Project kicks off with “The Last Five Years”, a modern musical by Tony-award winner Jason Robert Brown. Starring Linden Furnell as Jamie and Mina Kaye as Cathy, this musical traces the rise and fall of their five-year relationship. What’s unique about this tale of soured romance is how the two characters do not interact at all throughout the show. Cathy plays out her version of their love story backwards in time, whereas Jamie tells his side of the story in chronological order. Despite this, the poignancy of the characters’ thoughts and emotions are conveyed effortlessly through the lyrics, which are equal parts witty and meaningful.

Mina Kaye has some powerful lungs!  Photo Credit: Wyatt Biessel

Mina Kaye has some powerful lungs!
Photo Credit: Wyatt Biessel

Furnell and Kaye also did an excellent job in bringing out the highs and lows of their characters’ love story. Besides their flawless delivery of the songs, the small space enabled the audience to better empathise with the characters because we were able to catch every small sad smile, or subtle flick of an eyebrow.

I was very distracted by Furnell's washboard abs even as he belted out an emotional number.  Photo Credit: Wyatt Biessel

This was supposed to be an emotional song, but Furnell’s washboard abs were a distraction! 
Photo Credit: Wyatt Biessel

This central theme of love overflowed on to the next show, “Happy Robin”, which is a solo performance by veteran entertainer Robin Goh. As he bantered with the audience and belted out his favourite love songs, I couldn’t help but again feel like I’ve been transported into someone’s living room. Goh has an engaging stage presence, and his soothing voice is sure to take you on a languid trip down memory lane.

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Fall in love with the soothing vocals of Robin Goh. Photo credit: Wyatt Biessel

According to Tricia Tan, Dream Academy’s PR and Marketing Manager, this is just the beginning for The Henderson Project. In fact, the production house has plenty of exciting ideas and initiatives in the pipeline. Well, if this debut is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what else they have in store!

The Henderson Project is now playing till 16 February. Call Dream Academy at 9874 4465 or email them at boxoffice@dreamacademy.com.sg for tickets. 

Note: The author was invited to review The Henderson Project by Dream Academy. All opinions are the author’s own. 

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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Arts & Events, Lifestyle

MW Reviews: A French Kiss In Singapore

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There was a palpable sense of joie de vivre at the School of The Arts (SOTA) on Friday evening. Six Material World readers and their companions were treated to VIP tickets for the gala premiere of A French Kiss In Singapore, as well as the chance to have champagne and canapes with the cast after the show. It was a fun-filled evening, and that night, several readers even PM-ed us on Facebook to tell us how much they enjoyed themselves. We’re glad all of you had fun!

For those of you who’re still dithering whether you should catch the show, check out Deborah’s review of the 90-minute production:

Yet another first-rate performance from Hossan Leong.

Yet another first-rate performance from Hossan Leong.

“French music may perhaps be unfamiliar to many of us in Singapore but with the combined talents of George Chan, Hossan Leong, Robin Goh and Linden Furnell, you may just begin to develop an interest (or maybe curiosity) in the songwriters featured in this revue, and their works.

A French Kiss In Singapore begins with the songs by Charles Aznavour. A suitable opener considering that you may conclude – after the show – that his songs are the least memorable and entertaining of the lot. Songs by Charles Trenet of ‘Beyond The Sea’ fame, Serge Gainsbourg (singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg’s father) and Jacques Brel, who wrote ‘Seasons In The Sun’, follow and as familiarity surrounds the audience, you’ll sense a general warming up to the show and its performers.

George Chan’s choreography is a blinding mix of nifty footwork and comedic gestures. He effortlessly weaves in the use of props such as chairs and drums into his choreography so the audience’s eyes move along the entire length and breadth of the stage, creating a show that never once has a boring moment.

Special mention has to go to Hossan Leong. The actor is in his element here, assuming characters from an old man to a lollipop-loving young girl. The entire theatre never fails to light up in laughter whenever he comes on. It is his excellent comedic timing that makes A French Kiss In Singapore extremely entertaining. In their performance of Gainbourg’s controversial ‘Je t’aime … moi non plus’, the actor bravely takes on the part where Jane Birkin apparently contributed the throaty, erotic sounds in the background of the studio recording.

My favourite number in the entire show is ‘Madeleine’ (by Jacques Brel). Energetic, well-coordinated, hilariously funny, I guarantee your ears will still be ringing with its infectious melody the next day.A well thought-out performance, you’ll never have to worry about feeling out of your depth here. Many of the songs are performed in English so you can fully appreciate the lyrics and the word-play here. It is a 10/10 show and if you’ve never spent an extended period of time with French music, this is a great opportunity to get started.”

Two happy campers - Grace (left), Anne (right)

Two happy campers – Grace (left), Anne (right)

Over wine and canapes, 23-year-old reader Grace Yeoh (who was there with her sister) shared with us what she thought of the show:

“I don’t usually like musicals, but I really enjoyed A French Kiss In Singapore. Even though some of the songs were in French, there were quite a number of familiar tunes as well. My favourite song was ‘I Wish You Love’ – I found it very moving.”

Her sister, Anne Yeoh, 20, says, “I loved it! It was an entertaining production throughout, and all four cast members did a really good job. I especially loved the performance of ‘Wax Doll’, where they took turns to sing in different languages.”

A French Kiss In Singapore is currently playing till 7 December at SOTA. Get your tickets at Sistic now.

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