Win your fam a morning of jolly fun with our Treasure Island giveaway, and find out why the show is a rollicking good time for kids (and adults) of all ages!
Treasure Island is not an easy work to adapt for the children’s stage, but Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Little Company has done just that. The choice to cast Jim Hawkins as a girl’s role was an inspired one, making what could have been seen as a “boys” show accessible to all.
Kimberly Chan opens the musical in the character of Ben Gunn, whom we later learn was left on Treasure Island alone with only coconuts for friends. She recounts the story of greedy Captain Flint, who killed his crewmates and buried a treasure, only to die at sea. Don’t worry, mamas, the book’s violence has been toned way down and she only uses puppets and a somewhat random Jamaican accent.
We then see Jim Hawkins (Ann Lek) come into possession of a map to Captain Flint’s gold. She convinces the dignified Captain Smollett (Erwin Shah Ismail) and foppish Squire Trelawney (Tan Shou Chen) to pull together a crew so they can go and retrieve it. While Jim never trusts the sailors hired for the voyage—the sketchy Hands (Chan) and dim-witted O’Brien (Mitchell Lagos)—she becomes close friends with the new cook, Long John Silver (Dwayne Lau). She is shocked when, one night on deck, she hears Long John Silver, Hands, and O’Brien plotting to take the map and steal the treasure for themselves! The rest of the show is a race to see who will get to the treasure first, and at what cost. Was Silver’s friendship all a lie, or is there a bit of goodness left in him? You’ll have to the see the show to find out.
The cast—six talented actors, playing eleven roles—has great chemistry. Each of them attacks their role with gusto, and the audience can’t help but respond. I saw a show with a large number of school groups, and was seated behind some older primary/young secondary students. It was delightful to see them get just as caught up in the show as the younger ones did.
Ann Lek brought a great energy to the role of Jim Hawkins. Her Jim is multifaceted—journeying from ignorant teen dreaming of pirates, to excited cabin girl, betrayed friend, prisoner, and ultimately moral compass of the show. Her character is well supported by Erwin Shah Ismail as the dignified straight man, Captain Smollett, and Tan Shou Chen’s melodramatic Squire Trelawney.
Dwayne Lau plays Long John Silver with an oily, evil glee. His henchpersons are Kimberly Chan as Hands, a rum-obsessed pirate with a mean streak, and Mitchell Lagos as O’Brien, the seemingly feeble-minded pirate along for the ride. Lagos’s portrayal of O’Brien also works as a foil to keep the show from becoming too scary—his silliness gives children something to laugh at, breaking what might be otherwise frightening dramatic moments.
The set design is brilliant, allowing the tavern to transform into a ship and then into a desert island. Pieces move smoothly, and the transition never takes away from the action. The ways in which the scenery enhances the action—such as allowing a believable jump overboard for Jim, Captain Smollet, and Squire Trelawney while a storm rages—creates the perfect backdrop for the story.
The beautiful costumes have steampunk-inspired touches — such as Long John Silver’s leather and bronze “wooden” leg. There are many clever choices, like Captain Smollett’s large and official-looking hat and Squire Trelawney’s luscious white wig, to reinforce the audience’s perception of the characters.
My only quibble is that the sound mixing was, at times, problematic. During the performance, it at times seemed like Anne Lek was doing her best to sing over a cold or trying to compensate for a microphone that wasn’t quite working, leading to audible strain on high notes. At other times, it was difficult to hear the actors over the background music.
My 4-year-old daughter was enraptured, but not always sure what was going on. She enjoyed the music (especially “The Coconuts and Me”) and the character of O’Brien. I think the show would be best appreciated by kids 6 and up, although pirate-loving children of any age will find something to love. My family encourages you to take your little deck hands to go see Treasure Island!
Sassy Mama is giving away TWO Family Packages (of 4 tickets each) for the Saturday November 21 performance – that’s a $153 value per family! For your chance to win, mama, just enter your deets in the form below. Good luck!
Treasure Island is playing through Sunday, December 13, 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Rd, Singapore 239035. Purchase tickets through Sistic.