Rachel and I attended the gala for the Chinese musical, December Rains (雨季) on Friday. We were both really looking forward to being mesmerised by Kit Chan (陈洁仪)‘s singing and the combined songwriting talent of Liang Wern Fook (梁文福) and Jimmy Ye (叶良俊).
Some background on December Rains:
The musical was launched, in conjunction with the celebration of Toy Factory Productions Ltd’s 20th Anniversary. December Rains was first staged in 1996. It was the first Mandarin musical written in Singapore and was created by pivotal figures of Singapore Mando-pop – Liang Wern Fook, Jimmy Ye, theatre director Alec Tok and celebrated producer James Toh.
The 2010 remake is helmed by director Goh Boon Teck with Kit Chan, George Chan and Jeffrey Low playing the lead roles.
The invite card stated “Asian Formal” for dress code. Rachel wore the cheongsam my mom had made for her for our wedding solemnisation while I put on a shirt with oriental accents for the night.
The Esplanade Theatre was packed from the floor seats to the circle seats. It’s heartening to see such a turn-out for Chinese musical. Proof that Chinese culture is not dead in Singapore.
Overall, we enjoyed the music immensely (we bought the OST CD during intermission), but the story fell a bit flat. I had expected to be confronted with more thought-provoking themes, but was disappointed by what turned out to be predictable run of the mill romance (I have not seen the original 1996 version and am not familiar with the storyline).
Nonetheless, it is a sweet production that is easily entertaining. Kind of like those cheesy but pleasing romance movies which you secretly enjoy, but am too ashamed to admit.
I was glad to see George play the role of the male protagonist, as he has strong stage presence.
In plain speak, it is a mainstream crowd-pleaser. Most Singaporeans will enjoy this.
Here’s the promotional trailer to get a feel of the musical:
1950s Singapore: the innocent relationship of a pair of young lovers is sabotaged by strikes organized by Chinese high school students, a marriage of convenience, strong parental disapproval; and a third party waiting desperately in vain for his unrequited love.
1980s Singapore: past grievances and mistakes continue to haunt the younger generation. Only a personal sacrifice and the revelation of an undelivered love letter holds the promise of resolution.
However, no one knows when the rain will cease in December.
Rachel is more opinionated than me and better at words, below is her take on the musical:
“The characters lacked dramatisation and development, although the musical was 2.5 hours long. The most colourful character was Wang Mei (played by Josephine Tan), one of protagonist Li Qing’s (played by Kit Chan) sidekicks.
If December Rains had aspired to just be a simple love story, then perhaps it should have given more time to allow the two protagonists to fall in love with each other, developing more stage chemistry.
Kit Chan’s singing, though, was the saving grace of the musical. And to be fair, Mr Liang’s lyrics are always meaningful and a pleasure to listen to over and over again.” – Rachel Chan (edited August 15, 2010)
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