Nice is different than good

Last night Naomi and I took what little time we had and got our tickets to watch Dream Academy’s production of Into The Woods.

It was the best musical I have seen in a long, long time, and I am so thankful that Selena Tan took a punt and decided to stage this wonderful (and devilishly difficult) Sondheim musical this year.

It is a rare gem, and there are four shows left in the last two days of its run.

If you ever wished for great musical theatre performed by the best of Singapore’s (and some of West End’s) musical talent – the grant is in Into The Woods.

It is that good. So go get your tickets.

P.S. If like us, you rush to the Esplanade after work to watch a show and have only 10 minutes for dinner, dine at Simply Peranakan – you can wolf down a nonya chap chye and satay ayam plus rice and drinks in 8, pay the bill and still make it in time for the top of the show. Pride of place in the restaurant’s window display is a letter from President Obama thanking them for their “tremendous” food.

Kumar: Stripped Bare – big shout out

Kumar: Stripped Bare & Standing Up

It’s not every day one gets to write the script for a completely sold out show.

It’s been such privilege to help write Kumar’s show (which closed last night), and I only wish the run was longer so’s more people could’ve watched it.

It’s also been an extremely rewarding experience interviewing Kumar for a week at the beginning of this project, listening to his life stories, of which there were so many that there was the added task of picking which ones to put in the show.

What made it fun also was the fact that it wasn’t just one way traffic – Kumar learned from me about the lack of Tamil directional signage at the Airport, while I learned that “Lingam” is a symbol used in the worship of Shiva, and which is sometimes portrayed as a phallic symbol.

To correct Nalinee (just a little bit), the script wasn’t quite ‘well researched’ – it was more like the product of many good chats with Kumar.

There were also incredible moments where Kumar, beyond all expectations, took offence at a proposed punchline because it was too racist.

Thank you very much Selena, Kumar, Maniam (The Tabla Man), every single one from Dream Academy, and every single crew member that made this show rock.

Kumar Tix going fast – get yours here for free


The people at Dream Academy tell me that tickets for Kumar’s show are selling out, and that there are only single seats left for some categories.

So I’ll remind you all that there are two tickets here for seats next to each other, for the first person to correctly guess Kumar’s vocation in NS.

(Hints: 1. Vocation, not unit or formation or arm. 2. He was in the Army. 3. He was PES A/B).

Free tickets: Kumar strips bare

I have been at rehearsals for the past week for Kumar’s show, and I speak for everyone when I say we are having damn a lot of fun, can?

It’s also been a real privilege to be the writer for this show, because the stuff that Kumar’s been spewing during our workshops has been just revelation after revelation – about his remarkable life and his complicated family, and about being Indian in Singapore.

Sometimes its hard to tell if Kumar’s being serious or not – like when he asks me as he flips through the script, “Ben, you have all these Indian jokes, and then got the Malay one, and one Eurasian one, but don’t have Chinese racist joke. Why ah?”

Yanked my chain good.

I wish someone else would come, watch rehearsals and write about how much of a kickass show this is going to be, because, you know, if the writer tells you hisself, it’s kinda lame.

There is so much life in Kumar’s retelling of his life’s experiences that writing them down has been a real joy, with anecdotes and punches jumping off the pages and onto the rehearsal stage.

So, I’ve asked the producers for a pair of tickets to give away here. All you need to do is answer this question correctly, and the person that gives the first correct answer wins.

Q: What was Kumar’s vocation in national service?

Kumar: Stripped Bare & Standing Up
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Dates: 19 – 21 March 2009
Tickets (selling really fast): Sistic