There’s always something going on with the kids’ theatre scene in Singapore. From tigers to technology, here’s what to see in February!
As a bit of background, for starters….
There is a huge amount of research to suggest that going to the theatre, experiencing live performance with your children, has many benefits. It’s not just great for a child’s emotional intelligence, creativity and imagination, but it can improve social bonding, allow for emotions to be explored in a safe space, and kick-start conversations about some really important issues.
All too often, though, we get so caught up in the buzz and grind of everyday life that getting organised to get the tickets and get there can often be feel like just too much…of a production. For some reason getting to the pool, or a treat restaurant or ice cream parlour is significantly easier.
I’m not quite sure why. It could be the nervousness of taking little ones who won’t sit still and will make a noise; or that you’ll go and it won’t be any good; the aforementioned little ones won’t enjoy it and could be rather vocal in their displeasure! It could also be that you’ve had so many bad experiences with shows, bothering to see another will simply feel like a risk that’s not worth taking. There’s also the simple issue of how do you know if it’s worth the effort of getting there!
Well, that’s where we come in! We aren’t going to go on and on about why it’s so brilliant to take kids of all ages to the theatre (Google can do that very easily for you though), but we are going to scour what’s on in the months ahead and filter through it all to bring you a selection of what we think is really worth making the effort to get to.
The plan is to try and pick things for a range of ages and interests, hopefully something for the whole family — Sassy Mamas always, whether with bouncing bubs, cute kiddos, testing teenagers and anyone else in between! For lots more going on check out the What’s On section, but for our top picks in Feb….here we go:
1 – 3 February: The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Like so many other mamas, I fell in love with this story when I was 4 (a very long time ago!). The pages of the book were worn and loose from being read so often at bedtime. It also became a favourite with my boys when they were a similar age, and it was one of the books I kept when they grew up.
I’m not quite sure what makes the story so enchanting – a tiger turning up to eat everything in your cupboard could be a thing of children’s nightmares, but this timeless tale is simply magical. There’s a delightful interview with the playwright, David Wood, in the Guardian about how the play came about and the responsibility he felt in bringing such a loved book to the stage. Apparently, it all started when he met the author, Judith Kerr, at Buckingham Palace…as you do! Surely, that’s Paddington’s patch?!
The show is on for KidsFest and I’d highly recommend it, for nostalgic mamas and over excited little ones! And given that there’s just been a snake on Orchard Road, perhaps a tiger popping in for tea isn’t quite so crazy after all!
When: Friday 1 February to Sunday 3 February
Timings: 10am, 12pm and 3pm
Where: Drama Centre Theatre, 100 Victoria Street Level 3, National Library Building, Singapore 188064
How much: $42-$62; click here to purchase tickets.
If you know a little boy or girl who dreams of being a ballerina, then this is definitely the one for you, mamas! Singapore Dance Theatre have condensed Don Quixote into a charming hour-long performance especially for young audiences; even littlies as young as 2 are welcome!
It’s described as dazzling as well as funny, a glittering show stopper that tells a story of love, betrayal, and eternal devotion. But for little ones, it’s so much more than that! It’s the shoes and the costumes, the moves they can try and copy at home, and the chance to speak to a real life ballerina at the end, which makes it so exciting.
The entire audience (although they are probably meaning the small members rather than big growns!) is encouraged to come in their own costumes and to take lots of photos whilst mingling with the cast afterwards. Oh, to be little again, or to have a little one to take along with me…!
When: Saturday February 9
Where: Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Dr, Singapore 038981
How much: $14; click here to purchase tickets.
15 – 17 February: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Throughout much of February the Esplanade is putting on Huayi – Chinese Festival of the Arts. But don’t be intimated by the name, mamas, this Arts Festival is not just for Mandarin speakers. There are some extraordinary shows, many pushing daring and contemporary artistic boundaries, with English surtitles, and many are free. Have a look through the program at the Esplanade to see what’s on and get a flavour of it all. I think you’ll be interested and pleasantly surprised!
One that looks like it could be a visual feast is The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. It’s badged as a dynamic, modern revival of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But be warned this is not for the fainthearted; it’s three hours of Shakespeare in Mandarin! I’m very aware that it may be too much for many, but for die-hard Shakespeare fans or students studying the Bard, this could be worth a punt. Not only does it have a very high calibre cast and creative team, it’s been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of the Shakespeare Folio Translation Project, a scheme which aims to create new accessible translations of the Shakespeare’s plays for Chinese audiences. To dare, or not to dare…that is the question!
When: Friday 15 February to Sunday 17 February
Timings: Fri & Sat: 8pm; Sun: 2:30pm
Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Dr, Singapore 038981
How much: $38-$148; click here to purchase tickets.
21 February – 17 March: Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical
I have no doubt that tickets to see this famous show are going to fly like proverbial hot cakes! So if you want to see it, I seriously recommend booking straight away, mamas!
Roald Dahl’s famous book was brought to life magically by Dennis Kelly, an award-winning playwright who oddly, before Matilda, was known for dark and disturbing psychological thrillers rather than children’s shows. His talents have been complimented by Tim Minchin, a talented, risk-taking Australian musician and song writer. Perhaps it’s this dark subversive quality of the two creatives, one that Roald Dhal would likely have understood well, that is the secret to why it works so brilliantly.
I don’t want to labour the point but this musical has received accolades worldwide, winning 85 international awards – including 16 for Best Musical – and it’s now in its seventh year in London. Given how hard it has been to get a ticket to see this show anywhere, seriously mamas, I’d grab a ticket now if you’re keen. We’ll be reviewing it in more detail later on in the month but by then it could be too late. The grand theatrics and musical numbers make it a safe bet for the whole family.
Admittedly, there have been times when the big musicals have arrived in Singapore amid much anticipation and excitement, only to bring a rather lackluster version of the promised goods. But here’s hoping that this cast and crew won’t disappoint. If they do, rest assured mamas, we’ll have no hesitation in going all Trunchbull on them!
When: Thursday 21 February to Sunday 17 March
Timings: Tue – Fri: 7:30pm Sat: 2pm & 7:30pm; Sun: 1pm & 6pm
Where: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
How much: $68-$198; click here to purchase tickets.
22 February: Twelfth Night
If you fancy a bit of Shakespeare but prefer something a little lighter than three hours of Hamlet in Mandarin, then the Handlebards tongue-in-cheek version of Twelfth Night may be more up your street. Direct from the UK, as part of an Asian tour, the world’s only biking Shakespearean theatre group is coming to Singapore for one night only.
This unique troop of young men is cleverly mad, outrageously silly and has a growing reputation for producing fantastically fun theatre. Go ready for riotous amounts of energy and lots of crazy antics. And, as the flyer for the show claims, if you’re new to Shakespeare there’s no better introduction and if you are a “Bard Buff,” you’ll never have seen it done like this before!
There is also the added appeal of the setting. It’s performed in the garden of a black and white house at Alexandra Park and you get to take a picnic and have a few glasses of wine along the way, too. What’s not to enjoy about that, mamas!?
When: Friday 22 February
Where: Leedon Road. Purchase ticket for specific location!
How much: Student: $55; Adult without wine: $78; Adult with wine: $88. Click here to purchase tickets.
22 Feb – 10 March: Late Company
As a parent of teenagers, the issues of online bullying are a very real and present issue. It’s not just the fear that your child may be targeted, or involved, it’s the secrecy and the mystery of an online world where the language is changing and developing so fast it’s almost impossible to know how to manage and navigate it safely and sanely.
The effects of bullying are far reaching and the stats are terrifying. Globally, teenage suicide is rising and Singapore sits alarmingly high on key charts. It has the third highest rate of bullying in the world and is the second highest when it comes to cyberbullying.
With all these issues very much in our minds and the headlines, Pangdemonium’s production of Late Company, an award-winning play by a young Canadian playwright, Jordan Tannahill, is one that I’d highly recommend making the effort to get to. The company has a huge following, not only because of the quality if its work but also its reputation to address gritty, tricky issues, ones many in Singapore wouldn’t dare to do.
Tannahill was inspired by the true and tragic story of Jamie Hubley, a schoolboy in Canada and a promising figure skater, who committed suicide at 15. He was openly gay and bullied mercilessly. He was self-harming and on anti-depressants. In his suicide note he said, “I’m tired of life, it’s too hard, I just can’t take it anymore…I don’t want mum and dad to this it’s their fault…I love them.”
Great theatre has a way of taking us out of ourselves, opening our minds to look at situations differently, developing true empathy and a better understanding of our world. So, if you’re a mama with teenagers, Late Company is sure to resonate. Even if you’re not, go and see it! Not only will it get you thinking but hopefully it will prompt conversations with other mamas, parents and, most importantly, with your own kids.
When: Friday 22 February – Sunday 10 March
Timings: Tue – Fri: 8pm; Sat – Sun : 3pm & 8pm
Where: Victoria Theatre, 11 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
How much: $25-$75; click here to purchase tickets.
So, that’s our top performing arts picks for February, mamas. I hope you get to see some – and if you do, I’d love to know what you thought, too.
If I don’t see you in a foyer somewhere about town, I look forward to catching you next month for what’s happening in March!