Category Archives: music

Movie Review: That Girl in Pinafore (我的朋友, 我的同学, 我爱过的一切)

That Girl in Pinafore (我的朋友, 我的同学, 我爱过的一切) is a 2013  made-in-Singapore comedy-musical film directed by Chai Yee-wei and starring Julie Tan, Daren Tan, Jayley Woo, Hayley Woo, Kenny Khoo, Seah Jiaqing and Kelvin Mun:

The director has one other commercial film under his belt in 2011 – TWISTED (撞鬼). I mentioned in my review of Twisted that I look forward to Chai Yee Wei’s next movie. It is here now and he did not disappoint.

Like his previous movie, That Girl in Pinafore has high production quality, no difference from many of the other movies produced by Asian cinema powerhouses like Hong Kong and Thailand.

I am a big fan of xinyao (新谣) and I love the fact that the movie is themed around xinyao in the 80s, my growing up years.

The movie reminds me of the wildly successful 2011 Taiwanese growing-up romance film, You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年,我們一起追的女孩), directed by Taiwanese author Giddens Ko (九把刀).

The timing is just right to cash-in on the nostalgia wave. Those born in the 70s and 80s like me are now in the prime of our life and career. We are likely to be key breadwinners in our households and will be the ones with a fat wallet to milk from.

The casting of 30-year-old Daren Tan as an 18-year-old teenager made for an awkward start, but the writers were quick to get it out of the way by introducing him from the beginning as a “chao lao (old-looking)” guy who retained during primary school for two years and did five years in secondary school.

The xinyao songs were lovely and woven in nicely into the storyline.  For me, it was worth watching the movie just to hear classics like 邂逅 and 細水長流 play on the big screen.

The cast of mostly young, unknown talents was a refreshing break from the stale pool of TV actors and actresses we tend to see in many local productions. The two leads, Julie Tan and Daren Tan, both put in commendable performance.

Overall, I find the ending a little cheesy, but it is still a very enjoyable movie. That Girl in Pinafore should do well in the local box-office. It has many of the necessary ingredients for success – a youthful cast, nostalgic storyline, lovely xinyao soundtrack and high production quality.

A big congratulations to Chai Yee Wai on a job well done. 🙂

That Girl in Pinafore is now showing in Singapore cinemas. Go catch it!

Here is the full synopsis via the movie’s official Facebook page:

Should you listen to your heart or follow your head?

A coming of age teenage romance from Singapore set in 1993, about dreams, friendships, first love, and the difficult choice between following your head, or listening to your heart.
The story follows the teenagers’ efforts to bring business back to a struggling folk music pub, and the blossoming love between Jiaming and May, both fans of Singaporean folk music.

1992, Singapore is on the cusp of having the first elected President, and it has just banned chewing gum. There is an air of hope and rejuvenation in the air, where everyone believes that a Singaporean dream is possible. There’s a bunch of young people who are trying to create a Singapore music industry and creating plenty of local works at a crazy pace. This is also the time where music cafes/lounges featuring local talents are sprouting everywhere alongside a new trend called karaoke.

Jiaming is a free spirited lad who has never really taken school seriously. His parents own a music lounge called “Meng Chuan”, and he felt he could always help run the business if he drops out of school. True enough, his ‘O’ level results in high school bombed and he dropped out of school.

Jiaming has a bunch of buddies named Caogen, Haoban and Xiaopang who were able to score well enough to move on to Junior College. But they were caught renting porn magazines by the Principal and had to be suspended for a month.

During this month, the 4 boys took part in a local music competition, had their taste of puppy love, and worked hard to bring business back to “Meng Chuan’s” struggling business. This coming of age tale, see Jiaming and gang learning the harsh realities of pursuing dreams in the real world; and finding out that choosing between what your heart wants and what the society expects from you, is akin to losing your innocence in an adult world.

Through the closure of ‘Meng Chuan’ in the story, the film reflects the eventual demise of the ‘Xinyao’ (Singapore Chinese folk music) movement around the mid-90s. And signifies a losing of innocence in the youth’s struggle to battle the realities of growing up.

THAT GIRL IN PINAFORE 《我的朋友,我的同学,我爱过的一切》is the first Singapore film in 15 years to celebrate the success of ‘Xinyao'( 新谣), the popular 90s Singaporean folk music movement. The film re-introduces this music with contemporary arrangements to a new generation in this charming teenage love story.

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The Phantom Of The Opera Returns to Singapore at Marina Bay Sands

Broadway’s longest running musical, The Phantom Of The Opera, is here again in Singapore!

Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s phenomenal hit celebrated its 27th anniversary on the West End stage last year, and continues to play to full houses nightly in London, New York and around the world. The musical has been seen by over 130 million people worldwide; has been performed in more than 27 countries; has won over 50 major theatre awards, and has grossed more than US$5.6 billion.

The Phantom Of The Opera is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of the novel Le Fantome De L’Opera by Gaston Leroux. It tells the heart-wrenching story of the mysterious, hideously disfigured Phantom who lives beneath the Paris Opera House, and his obsession with the young singer Christine. Disguised as the ‘Angel of Music’, he devotes himself to creating a new opera star, and winning her love from his rival Raoul, while exercising a reign of terror over the Opera House.

With 130 cast, crew and orchestra members, jaw-dropping scenery, breathtaking special effects, and more than 230 stunning costumes, The Phantom Of The Opera contains some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famous and stirring music.

It last arrived on our shores at the Kallang Theatre in 1995 and the Esplanade Theatre in 2007. From 18 July 2013, it will take up residence in the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands for a limited season.

Although I know of the musical, I am surprise I have not seen it even once, whether in the theatres or the movie adaptation. I missed the musical in 1995 and 2007, I have to see it this time.

And I did…

on the opening night!

I watched the musical without any prior knowledge of the plot and I enjoyed it all the more. The staging was lavish, with some clever play of lighting and props for dramatic effects.

The cast sang well. When I heard familiar songs like Phantom of the Opera and Music of the Night being sung in the context of the musical, the songs became even more endearing and emotional to me:

“Softly, deftly music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it secretly poseess you
Open up your mind let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night”

In this season run in Singapore, American actor Brad Little, 49, plays the lead role of the tortured, lovelorn Phantom. Little has performed the role more than 2,200 times across the globe and is one of the only four men who have played the role of The Phantom over 2000 performances. He still shines in the role and put on a moving performance on the opening night.

Whether you are a regular theatre/musical goer or a newbie, The Phantom Of The Opera is a must-see experience. Do not wait another five years or more for it to return to our shores again!

Tickets are now on sale and cost from S$55 to S$230, excluding the booking fee of S$3 per ticket. You can book online at http://www.baseentertainmentasia.com or http://www.marinabaysands.com/Ticketing, by phone at +65 6688 8826 or head down to get in person at the Marina Bay Sands Box Offices.

Jay Chou Opus World Tour – Singapore Concert with OCBC Titanium Mastercard

Thanks to OCBC Titanium Mastercard, I attended Jay Chou Opus World Tour Singapore Concert last Friday night:

Jay Chou Opus World Tour - Singapore Concert
Jay Chou Opus World Tour – Singapore Concert

I cannot believe this dude has been singing for 12 years already. It goes to show how old I am, having bought his albums and listened to his songs since his very first album 12 years ago.

During the concert, Chou said he started going to the gym to buff up his body after hearing one of his fan’s son call him “shu shu (uncle in mandarin)”. He claimed he felt an obligation as an idol to look and maintain young. He don not want his fans to feel like they are idolizing an old uncle, but someone who is forever youthful. Wise words.

The concert was quite a spectacular sight and sound showcase. Lavish fireworks, laser displays and all sorts of lighting and sound effects were deployed for the best concert experience.

Performing a mix of new and old songs; fast and slow tracks; Chou flaunted his diversity amply throughout the two hour long concert. I am sure both old and new fans of his were equally wowed with his performances.

Concert about to start to a packed indoor stadium
Concert about to start to a packed indoor stadium
Dancers emerging from below the stage
Dancers emerging from below the stage
Jay Chou emerges from the centre capsule to kick-start the first song for the night
Jay Chou emerges from the centre capsule to kick-start the first song for the night
Stunning laser and lighting displays
Stunning laser and lighting displays
Fire
Fire
Fake snow during one of the song
Fake snow during one of the song
Singing 雙截棍 (Nanchucks)
Singing 雙截棍 (Nanchucks)
All the way north (一路向北)
All the way north (一路向北)
不能說的秘密 (Secret)
不能說的秘密 (Secret)
Transiting to fast tracks
Transiting to fast tracks
Lighting up the stage
Lighting up the stage
Jay Chou on the piano
Jay Chou on the piano
Jay Chou the soulful crooner
Jay Chou the soulful crooner
Switching to
Switching to “China Wind” songs
Dressed like a chinese gongfu star
Dressed like a chinese gongfu star

A significant segment of the concert was devoted to promoting his upcoming new musical movie, The Rooftop (天台):

Mini musical segment
Mini musical segment
A romantic moment on stage
A romantic moment on stage
A little musical drama during the concert
A little musical drama during the concert
Solo on the roof
Solo on the roof

This is very clever marketing to tie his concert world tour with his movie promotion.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the concert was towards the end when Chou performed a medley of some of his best hits through the ages. As he belted out song after song, many held special meaning for me, bringing me back sweet and sour memories, dating 12 years back to present. Mostly, they reminded me of the many vacations Rachel and I made to Taiwan from the time when we were dating to after we got married and now, as parents to a one year old boy. Chou’s songs are popular evergreens in Taiwan and can be heard playing in a random shop or along the street.

Big Ben (大笨锺)
Big Ben (大笨锺)
Jay Chou on the guitar
Jay Chou on the guitar
Belting out a medley of some of his top hits
Belting out a medley of some of his top hits

The night ended on a very high note, with Chou returning to perform three more encore songs after the concert officially ended. Streamers, giant beach balls and stunning lighting displays round up a night of nostalgia and fun with the King of Mandopop.

Jay Chou back on stage for encore performance
Jay Chou back on stage for encore performance
A picture of me at the concert during the encore song
A picture of me at the concert during the encore song
Performing the fun beach-themed song, Ukelele
Performing the fun beach-themed song, Ukelele
The giant balls came first before the giant streamers
The giant balls came first before the giant streamers
This really caught me my surprise. The folks around me all when ecstatically high.
This really caught me my surprise. The folks around me all when ecstatically high.
Singing the last song for the night, a couple duet,
Singing the last song for the night, a couple duet, “Rooftop (屋頂)”
Close-up shot
Close-up shot

“The most important thing when attending a concert is for everyone to have a good time, did all of you enjoy yourself tonight?” Asked Chou at the end in mandarin.

Yes I did.

Thanks for taking me a walk down memory lane with over a decade of your songs.

OCBC Titanium Mastercard – The card that takes you places…. like the Jay Chou World Tour Singapore Concert

Thanks to the OCBC Titanium Mastercard, I got myself a superb ticket to the Jay Chou World Tour Singapore Concert:

The tagline for this credit card is “the card that takes you places”.

It is not a boastful claim.

Ask any mandopop fans and they will all attest to how difficult it is to buy tickets to Jay Chou’s concerts in Singapore. Often, even before the public sale of the tickets start, all the best seats are already snapped up by OCBC card holders who enjoy priority booking privileges.

What can this card do for you? In three simple words – “cheonging, air miles and concerts” privileges.

Here are some of the highlights of the card’s key benefits:

  • 2.5 air miles for every dollar spent overseas and at local nightspots like Mink, Royal Room, Butter Factory, Pump Room, and Timbre (Min spend of S$1.5k/mth)
  • Free travel insurance (up to S$300k coverage) when you use Titanium to purchase your travel package or airfare and charging at least once to the card while overseas
  • Priority entry and other promos (e.g. all night 1-for-1) at Butter Factory, Timbre, Royal Room, Mink, Pump Room, Beer Market

Interested to get your own OCBC Titanium Mastercard? Visit the official OCBC microsite to find out more. 🙂 

The Top Winners for the First Social Star Awards are…

One Direction, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, just to name a few.

I noticed the winners were mostly younger celebrities. No surprises here as their fan bases are likely younger as well and are the ones who are the most active on the internet. This is the future. Stars and celebrities will be created over the internet and social media, more so than any other media.

The first ever Social Star Awards was held tonight in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. The live Social Star Awards were the pinnacle to 24 hours of virtual awards where stars from all over the world were recognized for their popularity in the world of social media.

I just attended the awards show which was broadcasted live on YouTube across the globe. The show featured dynamic and unique set pieces and collaborations from some of the world’s top celebrities and internet sensations. You can watch the full show here if you have missed the live broadcast:

I am not much of a stars chaser, but I got to admit, the fans’ ardent support for their favourite stars was infectious on site. I happened to sit beside a super high- charged female fan who kept screaming and taking sneaky shots with a hidden DSLR camera whenever her favourite stars pop out (Ryan Higga and Carly Rae Jepsen). As she bounce up and down in her chair, I can feel mine vibrate too.

The night began with a bang as the Red Carpet was filled with the biggest YouTube stars of the past 12 months – Hikakin, Harlem Shake, Tummy Talk, Marquese Scott , Ryan Higga, Wrecking Crew, PewDiePie and some of the world’s most famous stars including Aerosmith, PSY, Jermaine Jackson, George Takei, Carly Rae Jepsen and CeeLo Green.

Psy on the red carpet (image via Starcount)
Psy on the red carpet (image via Starcount)

The awards kicked off with a solid opening performance from rock legends Aerosmith who are set to wow Singapore this weekend with their first ever concert here.

Aerosmith blew the roof of the theatre with blistering performances of their most iconic hits such as Crying and Don’t Want to Miss a Thing before performing an unforgettable rendition of the bands all time classic, Walk This Way with beat boxer Hikakin one of the most high profile and talented social media stars of 2013.

Steven Tyler still has it after so many years. His stage presence and antics were fantastic, rousing the crowd to a roaring start.

The show is hosted by Jessica Alba and Jeremy Piven. The awards were mostly given out onscreen, intercut with random funny videos taken off the internet. It was an interesting format to watch and strangely, pretty entertaining. The audience are encouraged to tweet, instagram, facebook or social share in whatever ways we can on the awards.

Show hosts, Jeremy Piven and Jessica Alba
Show hosts, Jeremy Piven and Jessica Alba (image via Starcount)

One of the show highlight includes the very first Harlem Shake to be performed and broadcast LIVE on YouTube featuring the four original Harlem Shakers themselves.

Wrecking Crew perhaps gave one of the most unforgettable performances of the night. The illuminated body poppers who have amassed millions of YouTube views of their blistering dance routines, brought a brand new sequence to the Social Star Awards which left the audience (including me) awe-stricken and will no doubt be another viral sensation in days to come.

There were also stunning solo performances from Carly Rae Jepsen, Sky Blu, Eric Benet, Blush and PSY who closed the show with a sensational performance of the song and dance that propelled him to internet infamy, Gangnam Style.

Big winners on the night included Ellen DeGeneres who won for most popular TV Show, Selena Gomez for most popular actress, FC Barcelona for most popular sports team, Cristiano Ronaldo for most popular Sportstar and the Brit Boy Band who have taken the world by storm, One Direction for most popular music group in addition to the most popular UK musician, most popular in the UK and most popular in West Europe awards given out via social media prior to the live awards show.

MOST POPULAR MUSIC SOLO ARTIST  MOST POPULAR ACTOR
Justin Bieber Selena Gomez
MOST POPULAR MUSIC GROUP MOST POPULAR SPORTS TEAM
One Direction FC Barcelona
MOST POPULAR FILM MOST POPULAR SPORTS PERSON
Twilight Cristiano Ronaldo
MOST POPULAR TV SHOW MOST POPULAR GAME
Ellen DeGeneres Show Candy Crush Saga
MOST POPULAR SOCIAL SHOW MOST POPULAR BRAND
PewdiePie Samsung (Mobile)
ALMIGHTY AWARD
Justin Bieber

 For the full list of winners, visit the official Starcount website. 

About the Social Star Awards:

The Social Star Awards are based on data from Starcount which uniquely aggregates and charts social media’s most popular stars and celebrities through the measurement of 1.7 billion people’s social media activity across the 11 biggest social media networks in the world.

Starcount uniquely ranks and charts fans based on their individual social behavior by awarding points for every tweet, share, view and comment about the individual stars they love. 

About Starcount: 

Starcount is the definitive global popularity leaderboard, ranking the world’s top celebrities and stars based on their popularity and fan engagement, to produce the ultimate social media chart. It shows the social media ranking of stars across thousands of countries and categories.

Starcount uniquely aggregates and charts popularity and engagement of 1.7bn people’s social media activity across the 11 biggest social media networks in the world every day. These networks are: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Sina, Tencent, Youku, Renren, Mixi, Orkut&Vkontakte.

GLASS ANATOMY – The Musical 《搭错车》

Last Friday (3 May), I attended the media preview of GLASS ANATOMY – The Musical 《搭错车》. The show is produced by local theatre company, Toy Factory and omy.sg is the official online partner:

China-born Taiwanese singer, Della Ding Dang (丁当) plays the lead role and sung many of the main songs in this musical. She is known for her singing skills and powerful vocal. I was so impressed with her singing that I went to a CD shop the next day and bought one of her CD and the OST for GLASS ANATOMY. Mind you, I have not visited a CD store for more than a year!

The storyline is adapted from a famous 1983 Taiwanese tearjerker musical film of the same name, 《搭错车》 (Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing), directed by Yu Kanping (虞戡平), starring Sun Yueh (孫越) and Linda Liu (劉瑞琪).This film was released 8 times in Taiwan and 11 times in Hong Kong and won 4 Golden Horse Awards.The theme song “Any Empty Wine Bottles For Sale” 《酒干倘卖无》 by Su Rui (苏芮) is a Chinese pop classic and is of course, featured in this musical.

I did not watch the original film, but am interested to catch it after attending the musical. It is available for viewing here:

SYNOPSIS

什么时候儿时的玩伴都离我远去? 什么时候家乡变得如此地拥挤?

漫渡了时代的变迁,岁月的磨炼,TOY 肥料厂呈献历经十二年构思的呕心创作《搭错车》。时费三年间搜罗来自中国、台湾、香港、泰国、阿根廷以及新加坡的知名艺术达人与设计师齐聚共同打造这部旷世经典。

《搭错车》改编自1983年轰动整个亚洲的原名台湾电影。此电影在第二十届金马奖中获得了11个奖项的提名,创下金马奖提名最高记录。剧中精髓来自由罗大佑、粱宏志、吴念真、陈志远、李寿全与侯德建创作,铁嗓歌手苏芮演唱的《酒干倘卖无》、《一样的月光》、《是否》和《请跟我来》等经典歌曲,绕粱多年,深入民心。

TOY肥料厂的《搭错车》将由华语音乐排行榜新天后丁当领衔主演,以她高昂嘹亮的歌艺,征服她的舞台音乐剧处女作。

哑叔,一个从小被遗弃靠捡破烂为生的哑巴,盼望幸福有一天降临。清晨陋巷的弃婴声,改变了他单调无依的日子。弃婴阿美长大成了拥有天籁般歌喉的美丽女子,与相依为命的哑叔,过着充满乐符的天伦生活。 阿美被唱片公司送上歌唱的星光道路。她与哑叔、情人、童年的玩伴、成长的小屋与简单的生活有了一片摸不着看不到的玻璃隔膜。当她在大舞台上发光发亮时,年老的父亲已在老旧的收音机旁,渐渐睡去…

Have you ever wondered where your childhood friends have gone? When has home turned so crowded and foreign?

Through these changing times and growing years, TOY FACTORY presents, . A masterpiece that has taken 12 years to produce and 3 years to gather the best creative talents and designers across China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Argentina and Singapore.

Adapted from the Taiwan movie, “Papa, can you hear me sing?”, that took the entire Asia by storm and set the record for the highest number of nominations ever received at the 20th Golden Horse Awards. The essence of the movie is created by vocal powerhouse – Su Rei’s numerous classic hits such as The Same Moonlight

Uncle Ya, a mute rag-and-bone man, is always hopeful for the day that happiness will arrive. His dull and lonely life takes a turn when he hears the cries of an abandoned baby in the alley one morning. Being showered with Uncle Ya’s fatherly love, the baby blossoms into a beautiful young lady, Ah Mei. Father and daughter live a simple yet blissful life. Gifted with the voice of an angel, Ah Mei is eventually discovered by a famous record company producer and shoots to stardom swiftly. While Ah Mei lives in her dream, a glass has unknowingly formed between her and the people she loves. Her beloved father, her lover, her best childhood friend, her hometown and the simple life she used to lead are slowly slipping away. As she shines on the glamorous stage, an ailing old man sitting next to the radio that is playing his daughter’s song is slowly passing on…

How did I find the musical?

Great!

Okay, the story is very predictable and comes across very cheesy at time, but it was  based on a movie written in simpler time for simpler audiences.

In any case, I am a sucker for cheesy love stories for they provide escapism into romanticised worlds.

Storyline aside, I think the casting of Della in the lead role is very appropriate, given her similar personal background and rise to fame in real life. At just 18 years old, Della left her home in Zhejiang province, China, to seek chances to be a singer by singing with bands in different bars in Taiwan.

It was delightful to hear Della belt out one classic after another. The other performers sung well too.

If you are interested to catch GLASS ANATOMY – The Musical 《搭错车》, it will be showing at Esplanade Theatres from 3 to 12 May 2013. Tickets can be purchased online via SISTIC. Details:

EVENT DATE
3-12 May 2013
Tues – Sun, 8.00pm
Sat & Sun, 3.00pm

DURATION
Approx 1 hr 50 mins (no interval)

VENUE
Esplanade Theatre

TICKET PRICE (EXCLUDE BOOKING FEE)
Standard – S$129, S$109, S$89, S$69
VIP Box – S$129
Box B – G – S$109
Restricted View – S$129, S$109, S$89, S$69

Please add to above price $3 Booking Fee per ticket for tickets above $20 and $1 Booking Fee per ticket for tickets $20 and below. Charges include GST where applicable.

Edges – The Musical: 2 pairs of tickets to giveaway!

Edges - The Musical

Last Thursday, I just watched Edges – The Musical, directed by Derrick Chew and produced by Sight Lines Productions:

Edges is a contemporary musical about coming of age, hopes and dreams, love and yes, addiction to Facebook when it first started.

The musical follows a song-cycle concept that is new to the Singapore theatre scene. Edges is an original New York production by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and it features the famous song, Be My Friend, that has come to be commonly known as the ‘Facebook song’. It has been staged more than 100 times in North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa.

Being a social media addict, I had to watch it just to hear the cast sing the ‘Facebook song’:

Interesting?

The songs will resonate well with those born in the 80s and 90s as they tend to cover themes and growing up anguishes around that time period.

If you like musical and am interested to catch Edges, it is showing at Drama Centre Blackbox at the National Library Building from 3 – 19 April 2013. Tickets can be bought via Ticket Mash. 

I have 2 pairs of tickets to giveaway for 15 April (coming Mon), 8pm performance. If you are interested to catch Edges – The Musical, simple go LIKE my Facebook page @Alvinologist and drop me an email at alvinologist@gmail.com with your name, email, contact number and NRIC/Passport number by 14 April (this Sun), 4pm. The two winners will be selected via random draw and notified on the same day.

[Contest Result – 15 April 2013] Congratulations to Qin Liang and Caren Foo! Winners were picked via a random draw and will be notified by email.