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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

A special Christmas with heart

This A-class musical cabaret, touched by tragedy, has an urgent and bittersweet message
The Straits Times - December 19, 2011
By: Adeline Chia
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A special Christmas with heart Ridiculous and hilarious: Dim Sum Dollies in Crazy Christmas. -- PHOTO: DREAM ACADEMY

Crazy Christmas as a title seems to be a misnomer for Dream Academy's annual Yuletide revue. In the last three editions, it has been heartwarming, entertaining and sweet, but never crazy. Kumar's R18 version last year inserted a bit of naughty but overall it has been a whole lot of nice.

This year, something is different. To rise to the occasion of staging a show at the Esplanade Theatre, its biggest venue to date, Dream Academy throws in slicker and more sophisticated production values. The sets are beautiful and the costumes more colourful and glittery.

The performers, among the who's-who of Singapore musical theatre, dish out the usual recipe of show tunes and mash-up medleys. Directed by Selena Tan and George Chan, who are also performing, it is an A-class musical cabaret.

The production does not just get glossier, but it has also grown a bigger heart. Crazy Christmas has always been about celebrating family and loved ones during the holiday season, but this year, the message is urgent and bittersweet.

That is because behind the glitz, the show has been touched by tragedy: the death of Filipino actor R.J. Rosales, who was scheduled to be in the production, and the withdrawal of local actress Emma Yong, who had to bow out because her stomach cancer has returned.

Still, the show valiantly, heroically, goes on. Musically, the stand-out performances include Tan's localised version of the Liza Minelli's Ring Them Bells, about a Jennifer Goh in Boon Lay Heights who travels around the world to find the boy next door; and a devious rearrangement of the 12 Days Of Christmas performed by the entire cast.

Comedy-wise, Sebastian Tan owns the show as a foul-mouthed, Hokkien Santa Claus who has fallen on bad times and has to move from the North Pole to North Point in Yishun, Singapore.

The comedy works by contrasting absurdities of the Santa Claus myth - the elves, reindeer and his ridiculous generosity - with an Ah Beng's pragmatism.

For those who understand Hokkien, that segment should rightfully have come with a health warning because I may have sprained my stomach laughing so hard.

For those who do not understand, sadly, there are no surtitles. But you can hope that you are one of those receiving presents from him, but note that they are, erm, hangers, used batteries and two-year-old coasters.

Another comedian, Kumar, is given top billing in the production, and he comes dressed in an outfit best described as 'Candy Cane playgirl': tiny striped dress and knee-high socks that show off his formidable legs.

His topic is safe sex and his routine is delivered with characteristic deadpan disdain for everybody. His 20 minutes of material written by Benjamin 'Mr Miyagi' Lee is average, but Kumar fans hardly care. They have come to be amused and abused and nothing can get them down.

As for the Dim Sum Dollies, they put on a hilarious number as three very different types of bunnies: Denise Tan (Yong's stand-in) as Chinese moon goddess Chang E's rabbit, Selena Tan as Duracell Bunny and Pam Oei as a bat who underwent a species reassignment. It is all ridiculous, beautifully absurd and very, very funny.

In general, the show is a celebration of those who were present - either giving it their all on stage or lapping it up in the audience - as well as those who could not make it. I will not call it a Crazy Christmas, but it was definitely a special one.

Where: Esplanade Theatre

When: Until Friday, 8pm. No shows today

Admission: $37 to $97 from Sistic (go to http://www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

 

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