Beauty & Shopping, Lifestyle

26 Things To Put On Your June Watchlist

Can you believe we’re halfway through the year already?! Yeah, neither can we. Thankfully, there are so many things to eat, try, and buy this month! 

A is for A Sale Like No Other

great singapore sale

This year’s Great Singapore Sale is unlike any we’ve ever had, simply because of the “giving back” factor. From 30 May to 27 July 2014, Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) will be giving away $500 to one lucky shopper every day in the GSS 2014 Daily Rewards Promotion. There will be 59 winners in total, one for each day of GSS. But that’s not all – for every eligible entry received for the GSS 2014 Daily Rewards Promotion, SRA will donate $1 to Community Chest, up to a maximum of $10,000. Go on, now you can shop to your heart’s content!

B is for Blades Of The Gods

Fans of Chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club will be stoked to know that he has collaborated with Balinese master blacksmiths to create Blades of the Gods – a collection of kitchen knives and steak knives. These knives are made in Germany while preserving a 1100-year-old Balinese tradition of knife-making. You can buy them at Tippling Club or online at www.bladesofthegods.com .

C is for Celeb Endorsement

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Since he took part in Manhunt 2011, Shane Pow’s career has grown from strength to strength, with regular appearances on Channel 8 drama serials. Not only has he secured a meaty role in a new film, he’s now also the face of Lab Series Skincare For Men. Up close, Shane’s complexion is flawless — smooth, poreless, as well as wrinkle- and spot-free — definitely a face that should be fronting an internationally renowned skincare brand!

D is for Dior Addict Eau de Toilette

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Dior’s Perfume Creator François Demachy has imagined a new Dior Addict Eau de Toilette with an instant, multi-faceted attraction. Sicilian Mandarin blends with Jasmine Sambuc and Tunisian Neroli against a base note of evocative, woody Essence of Sandalwood and Vanilla. Resolutely feminine, it is a composition that dares to take on an unexpected woody charm thanks to notes of Sandalwood Essence. Available at all Dior counters.

E is for Elizabeth Arden

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3 women. 3 Untold stories. Together with Elizabeth Arden, Material World will be sharing videos featuring 3 inspiring women, each with an Untold story behind their successes. Starting 2 June, a new video will be uploaded every Monday. We are also looking for the 4th Untold story. Share with us your personal story of success and survival and you may just win an awesome hamper worth $400!

F is for Father’s Day

June 15 is Father’s Day! Have you figured out where to take Pop yet? If not, fret not. Here are a few suggestions. For dads who are known to be a “man’s man”, take him to Dolce Vita at Mandarin Oriental where he can enjoy hearty dishes such as Murray Bridge Lamb and Iberico Pork Chop alongside beer and cigars (for reservations, call 6885 3500 or email mosin-dining@mohg.com). If your dad prefers a more casual vibe, he’ll enjoy Spuds & Aprons, a casual dining eatery located atop Mount Faber. There, he can indulge in comfort food such as fries served with hot gravy and six different cheeses, as well as local favourites like Laksa and Curry Chicken. Does he prefer traditional Chinese cuisine? Restaurant Home has rolled out two special Father’s Day set menus — Gratitude Set Menu and Dedication Set Menu — which feature a wild freshwater fish called the Empurau fish (also known as “Wang Bu Liao”). This prized fish can fetch up to $1,600/kg (no kidding) but for this special occasion, it will be priced at a more affordable rate. (Check out the menu here; for reservations, call 6465 1698 or email reservations@restauranthome.com.sg.)

G is for Goodwood Park Hotel’s Durian Fiesta

Durian lovers, rejoice! Goodwood Park Hotel’s annual Durian Fiesta is back! From now until July 13, satisfy your craving for the “king of fruits” with limited-edition Mao Shan Wang durian products, including the giant profiterole “Mao Shan” Power Puff ($17.80 per piece); and “Mao Shan Wang” Ice Cream ($21.80 per 16oz tub). At the Coffee Lounge, you can also look forward to the new Durian Sampler Platter ($10.80, available only as a top-up), which consists of four items: Durian Gula Melaka roll, Mini Durian Donut, Durian Trifle and Durian Mousse Cake. For enquiries and reservations, call Goodwood Park Hotel’s Coffee Lounge at 6730 1746.

H is for Homeware

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Swedish stationery brand kikki.K has a homeware collection now! This season, Svenka Hem combines sophisticated white with wooden features and stylish gold accents for a range of homewares that looks so good on any dining table. Available in-store at ION Orchard and online at www.kikki-k.com .

I is for International Beers

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Beerfest Asia is back! This wildly popular event brings together over 400 types of beer from all over the world for a 4-day weekend of revelry and hiccupin’ good times. Apart from just guzzling down as many beers as you can though (as we will), you can also check out the live music performances, comedy club, and other beverage tasting workshops that will be ongoing throughout the festival.

Beerfest Asia 2014 is on from 12 to 15 June. Get your tickets here.  

J is for Jermyn Street

Jermyn St logo FA-06 A new upscale barbershop will be opening at Amoy Street on June 13. Inspired by the rich grooming heritage of Jermyn Street in London, this 1,800-square-feet barbershop offers a hot towel straight razor shave, haircut, shampoo, manicure, pedicure, eyebrow grooming, waxing and more. Find out more at www.jermynstreet.com.sg .

K is for Kickass Female DJs

Saturday nights at Catalunya Bar just got even more sizzling. Featuring not one, but two formidable female DJs. DJ Reiki has performed alongside international DJs Aphrodite, Mickey Finn, and Utah Jazz, as well as her own bi-monthly mixshow residency on Lush 99.5 FM. DJ Casie has been spinning in bars and clubs across Asia and North America, and was last seen at the SkyBar at KU DÉ TA.

Catalunya is located at The Fullerton Pavilion, 82 Collyer Quay, Tel: 6534 0886

L is for Leggings

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… workout leggings that is. US high-performance sports brand Under Armour has just opened its first store in Singapore, at Orchard Gateway. What you can look forward to: well-fitting, high-tech workout gear that will help athletes stay comfortable in their quest to become faster, fitter and stronger.

Under Armour is at B1-05 Orchard Gateway.

M is for Maquillage Long Stay Eyeliner N

Love the intensity of liquid eyeliner but can’t control it as well as a pencil? Well, in Maquillage Long Stay Eyeliner N you’ll get the best of both worlds. Its improved formula and texture promise to give you a smooth intense line that is resistant to water, tears and sebum, and can last up to 13 hours.

Maquillage Long Stay Eyeliner N is available at all Shiseido counters islandwide.

N is for Nails

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For once, it wasn’t about neon pops of colour or dark gothic shades – pastel and nude colours got their turn in the spotlight on F/W 2014 runways. More’s the better, because they’re so much more office friendly. If you’re thinking of adding pastels to your nail colour collection, check out Majolica Majorca’s Water Cologne Nails. It’s the one polish that smells good, as it’s been perfumed with the brand’s original scent, Majoromantica. Best part? Each bottle goes for just $7.10 each.

Majolica Majorca’s Water Cologne Nails will be available June 26, 2014, exclusively at Watsons.

O is for Old-School Arcade Games

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Relive your childhood days of playing classic games like Pac Man, Namco Arcade, Sonic the Hedgehog, and King of Fighters using console-style analog controls with the new Logitech PowerShell Controller + Battery. This sleek iPhone game controller also comes with an integrated 1500 mAh battery to increase the available power capacity of your iPhone 5, iPhone 5S or iPod Touch (5th generation). $129.90, available at authorised resellers. Visit www.logitech.com.sg for more information.

P is for Pebble

Attention all gadget lovers! Access your favourite apps like Whatsapp and Twitter through Pebble, a smartwatch that connects your smartphone via Bluetooth. Besides receiving notifications, Pebble also allows you to track your workout sessions with Runkeeper, remotely control your music, and more.

Pebble, $249, comes in five colours — Jet Black, Cherry Red, Arctic White, Orange, and Grey — and is available at EpiCentre, Harvey Norman, NuBox, Singtel, as well as selected Challenger, EpiLife, Courts, and Digital Style stores.

Q is for Quayside Tea

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Yes, we know it’s hot all year round in Singapore but it seems to get exceptionally hot in June! Quench your thirst with the bright and refreshing Belvedere Lemon Tea, available in 8 different summer cocktails across 8 cocktail bars. We have our eye our Quayside Tea, available at Boomarang, which is an inventive concoction of fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, a dash of egg white, a pinch of cinnamon powder, and of course Belvedere Lemon Tea. Yum!

Belvedere Lemon Tea cocktails are available from now till 31 August 2014. Boomarang is located at 60 Robertson Quay, #01-15 The Quayside; and 52 Circular Road.

R is for runWESTIN

The next time you plan a staycation, why not pencil in a good workout as well?  The Westin Singapore has recently launched its runWESTIN programme, with veteran runner Eddie Chang as the hotel’s first-ever runWESTIN concierge. Apart from taking you and other hotel guests on a 5-km scenic run around the Marina Bay area, he will also be onhand to provide expert training and race advice.

S is for Summer Beauty Offerings

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Make a date to go shopping at Sephora on 12 June! Why? Cos that’s when a jaw-dropping load of new stuff arrives at the multi-brand beauty store. From Pureheal’s Volcanic Pore Line (a 4-step pore care regime that’ll keep that unsightly shine at bay) to new makeup from Urban Decay, beauty junkies are sure to get their fill of fabulous new products on this day.

Find your nearest Sephora store here

T is for TANGS Beauty Playground

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Beauty junkies, get ready for the biggest and most extravagant beauty event of the GSS season (and possibly the whole year)! For 3 days only, you’ll get access to yet-to-be-launched beauty items and exclusive discounts on all your favourite products. So much to see, try, and buy so be sure to make your way to TANGS this weekend!

TANGS Beauty Playground will be held from 6 to 8 June 2014.

U is for Ugly Cake Shop

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Fancy some lip-smackingly good desserts while contributing to a good cause? Introducing Ugly Cake Shop, a local social enterprise that’s recently launched its online store (www.uglycakeshop.sg). Selling a wide selection of whole cakes, cupcakes, loaf cakes, brownies, and other baked goods that are handmade using only quality ingredients and without any artificial flavour, colour, and fondant, Ugly Cake Shop pledges 20 percent of its profits to the nutritional fund of Shalom School in the capital of Dili, Timor-Leste. This fund goes towards the meals of undernourished children and youth in Timor-Leste. For more information and to check out the selection of delectable baked goods, visit www.uglycakeshop.sg or send an email to Ugly Cake Shop partner/baker Lisa Tan at uglycakeshop@gmail.com.

V is for Vivacious, Confident Women

In conjunction with its 30th anniversary in Singapore, Cetaphil recently launched its first-ever Skin Confidence Report. We were heartened to discover that confidence among women in Singapore is actually pretty high! For example, 69 percent of Singaporean women believe they are beautiful and a whopping 86 percent believe that others perceive them as confident. Let’s keep this verve up, ladies!

W is for World Cup Madness

Why throw your money away when you can watch World Cup matches for free? Organised by the Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre and Foodpanda, catch at least 50 of the 64 matches (including the opening match on June 13 and the grand finales on July 14) on the big screen at Hong Lim Park. Exclusively for this month-long event, a few of Foodpanda’s partnered restaurants will be extending the food delivery operating hours beyond 12am for those of you having the midnight munchies. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/FoodpandaSingapore.

X is for Xtraordinary Feats

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Back for a second time due to popular demand, Le Noir is a theatrical production like no other, combining the death-defying acrobatic feats with beautiful music and rib-tickling comedic routines. Get your tickets here.

Y is for Yummy Steaks

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There are steaks, and then there are steaks at CUT by Wolfgang Puck. This celebrity chef restaurant has recently launched a new lineup of steaks created from Hokkaido Snow Beef, which is an exceptionally rare and premium wagyu beef farmed at a private reserve in Hokkaido, Japan. This beef gets its name because of its delicate meat texture and marbling so fine and intricate that it resembles snowflakes.

CUT by Wolfgang Puck is located at 2 Bayfront Avenue, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Tel: 6688 8517

Z is for Zesty Body Treats 

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The Body Shop has done it again with delicious body treats! Launching mid-June, The Body Shop Body Sorbets will bring new meaning to body moisturisers. The texture resembles that of icing sugar and it delivers a cooling dose of hydration that we all crave during the sweltering summer days. In four fruity flavours, you can store these in your refrigerator for a more refreshing treat.

The Body Shop Body Sorbets will be available at The Body Shop stores islandwide on June 16.

 

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MW Reviews: Fat Pig – Vanessa Tai

Cow. Slob. Fat Pig. These are cruel names that we can never imagine calling another person, but as the latest Pangdemonium production shows us, there’s a judgmental know-it-all lying within each of us. 

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Fat Pig tells the story of a handsome young professional, Tom (Gavin Yap), who finds himself falling in love with Helen (Frances Lee), a plus-sized girl with a big heart and a bigger laugh. However, he faces a lot of pressure from his indignant on-off girlfriend, Jeannie (Elizabeth Lazan), and his obnoxious pal, Carter (Zachary Ibrahim).

Yet, as much as Tom finds himself attracted to Helen, he somehow finds it necessary to keep the object of his desire a secret, away from the judgmental eyes of his peers. In fact, he goes as far as to request for seats at the back of restaurants whenever he’s out with Helen, or sneak into cinema theatres only after the lights have dimmed. Some may argue that perhaps Tom is still a confused little boy trapped in a grown man’s body (his penchant for superhero figurines and baby talk doesn’t help his case) but for me, Tom’s character is a reflection of each and every one of us. As much as we try to do the right thing or follow our hearts, it’s inevitable that we are occasionally swayed by the criticism we receive from the people around us. For example, there was this particular scene where Carter is trying to justify his revulsion towards fat people. To paraphrase, he said something about how human beings are afraid of people who are different from us – the handicapped, the elderly, and the grossly overweight – because we’re afraid we’re one bad fall or a few bags of Oreos away from turning into the very thing that disgusts us. Sadly, this struck a raw nerve in me.

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Zachary Ibrahim and Gavin Yap

But this is precisely what I like about Pangdemonium productions – the way they bring to life the thoughts and emotions buried deep within us; vile thoughts that we don’t even allow ourselves to entertain. Beneath every seemingly simple storyline lies a whole mishmash of themes, feelings, and social critique that you’ll be untangling for days or even weeks after the curtains close.

Lazan shines in her role as the angry, bitter Jeannie.

Lazan shines in her role as the angry, bitter Jeannie.

For a relatively unknown cast, the four cast members did a pretty good job of keeping up the energy throughout the play, and keeping the audience engrossed from start to end. Special mention goes out to Elizabeth Lazan and Zachary Ibrahim. From where I was seated (just a few rows from the stage), I could see Lazan really gave her all, especially during particularly emotional scenes where she was screaming. There was a vein throbbing visibly at the side of her neck, and I was worried it would burst if she continued yelling that way! Ibrahim also did such a good job of being a smarmy, cocky douchebag that almost every line he spouted had me alternating between shaking my head or burying my face in my hands.

If you’re the sort who enjoys theatre that makes you think and feel a whole spectrum of emotions, you HAVE TO catch Pangdemonium’s productions. Tickets are selling fast, so grab them now!

Fat Pig is now playing till 2 March, and tickets are available at Sistic

Note: The author was invited to review Fat Pig by Pangdemonium Theatre Company. 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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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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MW Reviews … Army Daze (Musical) – Vanessa Tai

Initially, I wanted to write a piece on how if you’re into serious, emotionally heavy productions, you may not enjoy Army Daze. However, I realised I wasn’t being objective.

"Huh? Why?"

“Huh? Why?”

My first experience with Army Daze was in 1996 when the movie was first released. I was nine years old then, and I remember laughing non-stop throughout the movie. Fast forward to 2013 to Army Daze: The Musical. Throughout the entire performance, the only times I actually laughed out loud was whenever Chua Enlai took the stage as the Singlish-spewing Corporal Ong. Oh, and when Shane Mardjuki – who plays Kenny Pereira – sashayed onstage with a floral “camouflage.” To me, the other jokes and gags were simply not as funny.

Shane Mardjuki was oh-so-fabulous in his role as Kenny Pereira

Shane Mardjuki being oh-so-fabulous in his role as Kenny Pereira

However, I suspect it’s just me taking everything way too seriously. The audience, which consisted of mostly families and secondary school students, lapped it all up. They laughed, they cheered, they catcalled … basically, they were enthusiastically responding throughout the entire production. From a performer’s perspective, being able to feed off such vivacious energy from the audience must be very encouraging, to say the least.

It wasn’t just last Saturday’s audience that gave Army Daze a firm nod of approval. At the musical’s 25th anniversary production last year, every single ticket was snapped up. Not only that, Army Daze: The Musical is believed to be the most successful stage comedy in Singapore to date, having sold nearly 55,000 tickets over its various runs.

I guess the lesson learned for me is there’s room for all sorts of genres and productions in theatre, especially in a burgeoning arts scene such as ours. While my personal preferences lean towards dark, somber dramas like The Optic Trilogy or The Book of Living and Dying, I’m grateful for the wider spectrum of theatre offerings Singapore now has. I am also heartened to see more and more young people take an interest in theatre, because to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “theatre is the greatest of all art forms; it’s the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be human.”

The liberal usage of colloquial language in Army Daze combined with timely in-jokes on the haze and the NDP 2013 theme song is what makes this production endearing to Singaporeans. It may not be your high-brow, cerebral type of production but you know what? It never set itself up to be, so it’ll be wrong to critique it as such. If you’re looking to spend a lighthearted and entertaining two hours with your family, Army Daze delivers on both counts.

Army Daze is currently playing till 28 July at the Drama Centre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.

Note: The author was invited to review Army Daze by Running Into The Sun. 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. Her childhood ambition was to be an actress. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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MW Reviews … Phantom Of The Opera (Musical) – Vanessa Tai

It is quite possibly the most successful musical of all time. Phantom of the Opera has been seen by over 130 million people worldwide and won over 50 major theatre awards. The touring version of this acclaimed musical includes 130 cast, crew and orchestra members and more than 230 costumes (it takes them 22 containers to transport all the props and costumes!)

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The intensity of feelings between the Phantom and Christine was gripping to watch.

With so much expectation resting on its shoulders – plus the fact I grew up listening to the original cast recordings of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman – it’s perhaps unsurprising I felt a tad let down at yesterday’s gala premiere. The three main leads – Brad Little (The Phantom), Claire Lyon (Christine Daaé) and Anthony Downing (Raoul) – were commendable in their singing roles, especially Lyon who managed to raise goosebumps each time she hit those high notes.

However, the main thing that caused me to feel disconnected from the production was Lyon’s and Downing’s acting. In the story, Raoul and Christine are supposed to be madly in love, but the intensity of their ardour was not fully translated to the audience. In fact, it felt a little contrived. The unconvincing passion between Raoul and Christine aside, the Phantom hit all the right notes with his palpable longing and sadness. Here is a horrifically disfigured man treated as a monster for most of his life; all he’s known is loneliness and rejection. As he crawls piteously towards Christine in one scene, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. And when he pleaded with her to love him in the reprise of All I Ask of You, it was all I could do to keep my tears from spilling over. Despite his almost savage-like nature, I think at some level, most of us can identify with the Phantom’s desperate feelings of loneliness.

Spectacular costumes abound throughout the production. This is the Phantom in the Red Death scene.

Spectacular costumes abound throughout the production. This is the Phantom in the Red Death scene.

During the intermission, I bumped into a friend and he brought up an interesting point. When Phantom of the Opera plays in other countries like London or Australia, it’s usually held in smaller, more intimate settings, usually a Gothic-style theatre to fit the Gothic-themed production. That alone engages the audience on a deeper level because it feels as if they are one of the audience members in the Opera Populaire [where the story is set.] As my friend mused, “The Sands theatre is great, but watching the Phantom here just feels like I’m watching a concert.”

I guess what this tells you is, if you’re looking to relive the music of this incredible masterpiece, you’ll love this season’s production. But if it’s great acting you’re looking for, you may just want to give it a miss.

Phantom of the Opera is currently playing from now till 25 August at MasterCard Theatres – Grand Theatre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.

Note: The author was invited to the gala premiere of Phantom of the Opera by Base Entertainment. All opinions are the author’s own.

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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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MW Reviews … High Class (Play) – Vanessa Tai

People have always been curious about the obscenely rich. You only have to take a casual glance at the newsstands to see the proliferation of celebrity and high-society magazines. This strange fascination was what inspired Michael Chiang’s first play in 14 years, High Class.

material-world-high-class-2The story revolves around newly-divorced tai-tai Alexis Li (played by Nikki Muller), a sassy and confident ex-TV personality who sets out to create her own reality show to groom five tai-tai’s. However, instead of being presented with sophisticated debutants from District 10 neighbourhoods, Alexis got sabotaged and ended up with a motley crew of five misfits. The mastermind behind the treachery? Her former best friend, Siobhan, whom her ex-husband started an affair with.

Similar to Chiang’s previous hit play Army Daze, the five finalists are a quirky cross-section of Singapore’s society. Meng Yee (Serena Ho) is a tomboyish real estate agent, Azizah (Siti Khalijah) is the bubbly schoolteacher from Jurong, Janine (Mina Kaye) is the airheaded beauty queen, Ye Feng (Audrey Luo) is the TCM physician hailing from Beijing and finally there’s Sunita, a dengue inspector working with the NEA. Special mention has to go to Jo Tan, who plays the role of good-natured Sunita. The role was originally supposed to be played by Elizabeth Lazan but she came down with dengue a few days before the first run (yes, life and its many ironies) so Tan had to step in and prepare for the role within 48 hours. It was an insurmountable task, and she pulled it off with aplomb.

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If for some reason, you only stayed to watch the first half of High Class, you may walk away thinking it’s a thinly-plotted play that gave you a couple of laughs. However, the heart and soul of the play comes alive in the second half of the play when the characters emerge from their shallow stereotypes and the audience start to learn the back stories of these women, including Alexis. Behind her dazzling diamonds and Herve Leger dresses, is a surprisingly warm and big-hearted individual. Muller’s large, expressive eyes has a way of drawing you in and as her very human emotions and problems reveal themselves, you start to root for her in a way you may not have in the first 45 minutes.

While the play could have done with tighter pacing, the campy, over-the-top acting of the cast had the audience in stitches from start to finish. Don’t expect high-brow, dry humour here though. This is the slapstick, almost goofy brand of humour favoured by local audiences. But beyond the zany script, the storyline does throw up a more somber talking point, namely: Do modern women still aspire to nothing more than marrying a rich man?

High Class is currently playing till 14 July at the Drama Centre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.

Note: The author was invited to review High Class by Running Into The Sun. 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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MW Reviews … Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage (Musical) – Vanessa Tai

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Dirty Dancing has come to Singapore! I can still remember the first time I watched it on television when I was in secondary school. From the first electrifying dance number, I was hooked. It was my first exposure to the many beautiful expressions the human body is capable of, and I was awed. I felt the same way yesterday during the gala premiere of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage.

For those of you still unaware, Dirty Dancing revolves round one unforgettable summer at Kellerman Resort on Catskill Mountain. Baby Houseman, a bright-eyed and idealistic 17-year-old who dreams of joining the Peace Corps, is there on holiday with her family. What seemed like a regular family vacation transforms into Baby having the time of her life, as she stumbles (quite literally) into the heady, sexy and occasionally gritty world of the working-class staff of Kellerman’s.

The fun-loving staff of Kellerman's

The fun-loving staff of Kellerman’s

Through a series of events, she forms a friendship with the ridiculously sexy Johnny Castle, leader of the entertainment crew. With a few come-hither gazes and well-timed swivels of those magical hips, Johnny soon has Baby eating out of his hands. But it’s only when he sees her fearless side that he loses his bravado and starts falling for her too.

To me, Dirty Dancing will always be the ultimate coming-of-age tale. It traces Baby’s path of naive idealism to something that resembles more of resolute determination. Simply put, Baby leaves girlhood behind and steps into the self-assuredness of womanhood.

And of course, what could be more evocative of a blossoming woman than her first experience with romantic love?

"Breathe me in."

“Breathe me in.”

The scenes between Baby and Johnny will have you fondly reminiscing about your first love – the sweet moments, the poignant moments and oh, most of all, the sultry moments. Whenever Baby and Johnny dance, you can almost feel the heat emitting from the stage. Every single dance move was executed flawlessly, but as Johnny says, “It’s not just about the steps. You have to really feel the music.” And boy, did I feel it. Each of the dance numbers dripped with sex – the heart-pounding thrill of foreplay that leaves you with hungry eyes, flushed and eager for more.

When the musical reached its climax – Baby running into Johnny’s arms and being lifted high into the air – it’s clear the audience felt the same way as I did, with their loud whoops and cheers. I rode out of the theatre on waves of pleasure, and was still feeling high as a kite when I got home. I may or may not have been gyrating to Time of Your Life when I got home (this cannot be confirmed.)

Dirty Dancing – The Classing Story on Stage is currently playing till 16 June at MasterCard Theatres – Grand Theatre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.

Note: The author was invited to the gala premiere of Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage by Base Entertainment. 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 … The Rabbit Hole (Play) – Vanessa Tai

Whenever I fork out money to catch a Pangdemonium production, I know it’ll be money well spent. Even with this heightened sense of expectation, I was not disappointed by their latest offering – The Rabbit Hole. In fact, I left the theatre an even bigger fan than when I entered.

rabbit hole

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a richly layered exploration of one couple’s journey through the aftermath of their young son, Danny’s untimely death. Howie and Becca – played by Adrian Pang and Janice Koh respectively – are equally distraught and heartbroken, but are unable to find comfort in each other. Howie desperately tries to find solace in a support group, while Becca turns to her brash but well-meaning mother and sister for answers. There are no easy answers, however, as the couple soon discovers. As they stumble between the various stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and even acceptance), you’ll soon find yourself identifying with the characters’ very human emotions and actions.

For me, that bittersweet moment of poignancy hit during a particularly moving scene between Becca and her mum (played by Lok Meng Chue.) As they reminisce over Danny’s childhood, a tearful Becca asks, “Does it [the pain] ever go away?” Her mother then says something that had me nodding along furiously while tears flooded my eyes.

“No, but it changes. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you … you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful … but not all the time. It’s not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around.”

At first glance, The Rabbit Hole may seem like an “emo” play that will leave you feeling depressed. Quite the contrary. It’s actually a an illustration of the indomitable human spirit, and the power of familial love – love that can be messy, complicated and yes, even painful, but as vital to human existence as breathing is.

The Rabbit Hole is currently playing till 12 May at DBS Arts Centre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.

Note: The opinions here are the reviewer’s own. Pangdemonium Productions did not pay for the review.

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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