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Opera Review (Singapore): Another Murder on the Orient Express by Bellepoque

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Bellepoque‘s Another Murder on the Orient Express is an operetta that was held at the Living Room @ The Arts House, from 28th November to 1st December 2012.

Another Murder on the Orient Express tells the tale of a novice film director (Tim Garner) who finds himself stranded on board the last train trip of the Orient Express in 1914, when a fellow passenger is found murdered on board. With some damsels in distress, including the wife (Sabrina Zuber) and niece (Kristy Griffin) of the victim, and a pair of gangster brothers from Shanghai (Jonathan Lum and Melvin Tan), along with an Australian pauper (Tom Ragen), the film director tries to get to the bottom of this murder mystery.

Made up mostly of music and lyrics from the works of Jacques Offenbach, this operetta also incorporated Bizet’s “Chanson Boheme” from Carmen and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “If You Want To Know” from The Mikado, amongst other works. The story, as in most operettas, was light and frothy, with coincidences and humour playing a large part. All of the actors delivered the comedy and their dialogue effectively and earnestly.

The singing, though, is the main point of operettas, and these performers didn’t disappoint. Griffin possesses a clear soprano voice that fluttered up to the rafters each time she hit those high notes, and Tan’s luscious baritone voice carried the songs effortlessly and magically with every note he mellifluously sung.

Zubir performed Offenbach’s “La Chanson d’Olympia” as a mechanical doll, bringing loads of laughter with her movement and staccato singing.

As the monsoons hit Singapore and the cold rains pour down each day, it’s these little theatre companies such as Bellepoque, which perform in small spaces such as the parquet-floored Living Room in the colonial Arts House, that warm the soul of local theatregoers. Another Murder on the Orient Express was not flashy or big-budgeted, and neither was it staged at some snazzy theatre. It was, however, like having an intimate and highly entertaining performance piece right in your own living room, by the fireplace. In a way, Another Murder on the Orient Express was “comfort theatre”, and just what the doctor ordered for a cold, wet, and rainy monsoon season.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.
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