Touted as “Singapore’s very own maiden musical”, Singapura, Lion City had an advance showing on October 5th at the newly revived Kallang Theatre.
First conceptualized in 2009 by Asia Arts & Culture Pte Ltd (AAC), the show, which premiers on October 8th, incorporated an energetic and flamboyant performance with a storyline on the development of Singapore from a small fishing village to the global city it is today.
Indeed, the first few scenes evoked nostalgia as performers from Yunnan Provincial Performing Arts Group of China reenacted familiar tales such as Sang Nila Utama’s stormy journey to Temasek and the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles.
However, the term “musical” is misleading. There was a lack of live singing and songs were poorly lip-synced by the performers struggling to keep up with the lyrics. Well-known numbers like Rasa Sayang fell flat as it was noticeable that performers were unfamiliar with the song.
In fact, the performance shrugged off its Singaporean slant halfway through the show and became a spectacle, showcasing the performers’ acrobatic prowess as they floated through the air on silk scarfs and balanced on each other’s heads. It might have been more enjoyable without the tacky history lesson woven into the performance.
Despite that, there were other commendable moments in the performance. The spectacular projections on the stage sides and back wall, as well as the vivid coloured lighting filled the stage with drama and made the performers very much larger than life.
Still, too much of a good thing makes a bad one. With scene after scene of bright lights and fantastical multimedia, the over-the-top grandeur had a desensitising effect on the audience.
Perhaps this performance should not be aimed at the local audience, well-versed in popular musicals by theatre companies like W!LD RICE, but to tourists who would be more receptive to such a parody of history and performance.