From Cirque du Soleil to Aladdin, here’s what’s on for family-friendly theatre in Singapore this July
July means back to class for some schools and summer holidays for others. If you are in town, there are still lots of great things happening on Singapore’s stages! Whether in the big top or on a big screen, with a cocktail mix or a historical twist, here are our top picks of the shows that are definitely ‘worth the effort’ to see.
Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities
To go to a Cirque du Soleil show is a real treat, an experience quite unlike anything else. In fact it can be so extraordinary that the memory of the images and sounds you see – the wonder at how on earth bodies can bend and move and leap like they do – can stay with you for years.
Kurios is a show born of the story of a late 19th-century inventor who invents a machine that defies the laws of time, space, and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Using fantastical inventions and characters from another dimension, it is described as a “tribute to the power of the human imagination.” I expect that’s both in what it does and how it does it!
Given the ticket costs are punchy, if you are going to restrict yourself to just one Cirque du Soleil show then it looks like Kurios is the one to pick! It is the 35th in the company’s history and has been described as “kinetic, whimsical and astounding” by The Globe and Mail, and The San Jose Mercury News said it is “a dark and mysterious world that eschews the brightly coloured eye candy for which the French Canadian juggernaut has become famous”. The Chicago Tribune boldly claimed,“it is not to be missed on any account!” You see, it’s not just me!
It’s definitely one for the whole family, a bit of a holiday treat and one you’ll be oohing and ahhing about like there’s no tomorrow.
When: 5 July – 4 August
Where: Bayfront, next to Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
How much: From $99, click here for all the details
Best for: all the family
Smarty Pants and the Sword Fish
SmartyPants and the Swordfish sounds like an enchanting show! It tells the story of Nadim, a young kampong boy who unexpectedly saves the kindgom from a violent swordfish attack but tragedy strikes. As a group of students try to find out what happened, they learn that there are many ways one can dissect and reimagine a story.
Written by award-winning playwright Jean Tay and directed by the critically-acclaimed Samantha Scott-Blackhall, this show is more than just a retelling of a classic legend. It also highlights the nuances of power, addresses issues of bullying and the importance of standing up for what is right. It is a timely reflection of where Singapore has come from and where it is going, something that is particularly relevant in a Bicentennial year.
The performance is interactive, so young audiences won’t just get to sit and watch. They will be immersed in the story playing swordfishes, the sultan’s advisors and the villagers. It’s bound to excite and enthral them and I’m sure will be all rather cute to watch too. Definitely one that’s worth the effort for the kiddos!
When: 13, 14 & 20 July
Where: Gateway Theatre, 3615 Jalan Bukit Merah, Bukit Merah Estate, Singapore 159461
How much: $32 for tickets, book here
Best for: 6 to 10 year olds
It’s hard not to get excited when you hear there’s a massive Broadway hit coming to town! Marina Bay Sands has done Singapore proud recently with Matilda and Phantom and now it has Aladdin flying in (note the very subtle carpet reference…) and it’s sure to be genie-us!
Boasting lavish sets, spectacular costumes (a staggering 337 of them, which feature 1,225 different fabrics, 712 different styles of beads and almost 500,000 Swarovski crystals) and of course the fantastical flying carpet, this is definitely one to push the boat out for. The show is based on the Academy Award-winning film and made its world premiere to critical acclaim at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20th, 2014. Since then it has toured globally and claims to have been seen by over 10 million people. Now it’s time for the Singapore premiere!
The New York Times described it as “fabulous and extravagant with relentless razzle dazzle” and The Associate Press claimed “Disney hits magic again”. If you’re looking for something with lots of sparkle, don’t just get polishing and trying your luck with a few wishes… this is one to be remembered and definitely one that’s worth the effort!
When: 21 July to 1 September
Timings: Tuesday to Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7.30pm and Sunday at 1pm & 6.30pm & 7.30pm
Where: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
How much: $68 for tickets, book here
Best for: all the family
Last month, the Singapore Repertory Theatre brought us three screenings of Royal Shakespeare Company’s shows (which were fabulous), and this month it’s so great to see the Esplanade is doing something very similar! And the line-up is tantalisingly good: War Horse, Antony and Cleopatra, and King Lear, all of which were recognised as major hits when they were first performed at the National Theatre in London.
Although watching a screening of a performance rather than the real thing may lose some of the magic of ‘proper theatre’, it does make extraordinary theatre accessible to so many more people – which can only be a good thing! There are some great up sides too. For one, you always feel like you have the best seats in the house!
Although it would be great to see all three, if you can only make one, then War Horse would be my pick – even though I am a major Ralph Fiennes fan (Antony and Cleopatra) and think Ian McKellan (King Lear) is a theatrical god! Based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel and adapted for the stage by the brilliant Nick Stafford, War Horse takes audiences on an extraordinary journey from the fields of rural Devon to the trenches of First World War France. It has been an international smash-hit and brought tears (in a good way!) to the eyes of millions.
The show is powerfully moving, imaginative and phenomenally inventive. It’s the life-size puppets that provide the real magic and I wonder if seeing them as close up as the camera will allow will give it a whole new level of intrigue, even for those who have been lucky enough to see it on stage! It’s definitely one that’s worth the effort, but don’t forget to pack the tissues!
When: 27 July
Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981
How much: From $20 and $28, click here for all the details
Best for: 6+
M1 Patch! A Theatre Festival of Artful Play 2019
The Theatre Practice is a wonderful place and if you’ve not been there yet, it’s well worth exploring. Nestled on Waterloo street, the quirky blue shopfront building is the face of many years of theatrical collaboration, endeavour and artistry. Founded back in the 60’s, the company has been at the heart of the Singapore theatre scene ever since.
The company’s current Artistic Director, Kuo Jian Hong, has a vision and drive that is infectious. She is passionate about the transformative power of the arts and the need to do, create and play, and her latest project, M1 Patch! A Theatre Festival of Artful Play, is a huge testament to that. She has created a program of events which are designed to enable us all – young and old – to do exactly what it says on the tin: Play!
There’s plenty to choose from so it really is worth having a delve into the full program, especially with the kids in mind. But for a grown up treat it’s the Play with… series that’s really worth checking out, mama! Whether it’s Gameology, Flavours or Bubbles, you’ll be encouraged to throw away preconceived ideas, free your mind and enter the world of artful play!
Play with… Flavours could be quite the thing for anyone looking for something a bit different on a night out! Lead by Jeff Ho, a flavour genius and mixologist with a deep passion for fragrances and flavours as well as a belief in the importance of mindful consumption, guests (or the audience!) will be challenged to open up their senses and go on a ‘meditative mixological journey’. It all sounds like quite an exciting cocktail of fun to me!
When: 13 July
Where: Practice Tuckshop, 54 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187953
How much: $30, click here for tickets
Best for: 18+. Mamas on a night out
Lead image courtesy of James Green; Cocktail image by Jia Jia Shum via Unsplash