Review Theatre


“Beauty World Cha Cha Cha!” “High Class, Low Class, NO CLASS!”

Who can forget these classic lines? Beauty World the musical has been with us 5 years after I was born. So 20 years after its creation, I was given complimentary tickets to watch.

Firstly, I don’t like the Esplanade Theatre. The stall seats are just as good as being on perfectly flat ground. It’s so steep that I was unable to see any action that was within 0.5m from the stage floor.. *grumbles*

I went in without any expectations of a good time actually.It was quite obvious to me before I stepped into the venue that it will not be good. It might pass, but it will not be one that stays with us for a long time. The cast list is pretty much good enough to tell all.

That said, I was fairly impressed by the set design. I thought it was intelligent and thought was actually put into the works and how the interchanging of the set flows with the rest of the play. There was a certain sense of period in the Beauty World cabaret style set but it could have been slightly better. The whole feel was more of a Moulin Rouge idea than 80s chinese cabaret. Slightly off but still good.

Lights was in general another good point in the play. Lulu’s follow-spotter was not very on-the-ball at times. There were a couple of spots that cleanly cuts a dark arc across the forehead. And that happened in scenes where she was supposed to be showing lots of emotion in her expression… A big waste that was actually. But I’m not really a lights person so I’m not really able to comment much on it..

Sound though, is a different thing. OH MY GAWD! I hated it, the sound cues, not the songs.. The band was placed at the back and on top of ALL the action. So much so that the conductor is totally unable to see the action on stage real life. He either had to use audio cues, or use his monitor which is super tiny. I know. I’ve seen it. I can’t see shit on that small little thing. So.. 90% of the sound cues were off. Especially the visual ones. Timing was horrible. Sometimes the music climax came after the actor had already paused in his act.. Like 3 seconds. Totally off. Bad.

Personally, and I think this applies to most industry people who watched the show, that the costumes were bad. It was totally off. I mean, this is a 80s Singapore Chinese cabaret, not Moulin Rouge. Yet 80% of the cabaret girls’ costumes were so Moulin Rouge, complete with sequins, glitter, shine, feathers, tassles all the works. *beep* Wrong era here. And my god the suits look like a really fashionable & modern cut! The only correct period costume was probably recycled from the old run. Which is Ah Hock, Ivy, Frankie & Rosemary’s. *shakes head*

My heart goes out to Daren Tan, really. He’s not a stage actor. He doesn’t even know how to act. Yet because of his fame as the winner of Project Superstar, he has to be thrown into this unfamiliar and really very unkind community. He simply can’t act. Not now. Not without training and experience. His singing is wrong. The wrong type of vocals. Pop singing and musical singing is really way off. Not everyone’s Pamela Oei or Gani. He was easily the worst of the lot, seriously. Not entirely his own fault but still… Reality sucks.

Elena, playing Ivy, really threw me off. She was much better than I had expected. Then again, she has the right musical theatre training as a foundation. She has the vocals and the potential. What she really lacks is the experience, which shows in her acting. There is a certain lack of sense of how you capture and enhance movements in accordance with the background music. For example, when she was sneaking around in Mummy’s room in her all-black catwoman suit, it would have been more interesting to see if she had followed the beat of the music. I’d like to use popping as a way to connect such movement acting. There’s always a certain place where you stop, usually at the hard beat itself. And the right amount of jerky actions combined with smooth moves accentuates what you are doing and makes your movements clearer. Plus you don’t have to do as many consecutive actions to get the same effect. And it looks better on stage. She really needs to work on her physical aspect.

Frankie, played by Dwayne Tan, was a lovely success. Totally without the image of Hossan Leong from the 1998 run and yet still endearing in his own way. “My a-ha-ha Ivy….” Didn’t know how it was apparently so hilarious that everyone had to laugh like mad dogs every time he sang that song. *grouchy*

The rest… Denise could have done better but the chemistry between her & the rest wasn’t there.. The showdown between Lulu & Rosemary was such a let down! Where is the vocal power????? Rosemary was tooooooo much Jacintha, she might as well have done it by herself. Irene Ang was hilarious as Ah Choo, spot on punch lines.. Swee Lin was charismatic as Mummy as well.. Ensemble was well, forgettable.

I wouldn’t pay to watch the show, even if it was S$10. But that’s just me. Someone else might have a different opinion.

Have you watched the play?