It is time for W!ld Rice’s annual pantomime, and this year the company tackles a localized version of Charles Dickens’ timeless story “A Christmas Carol”. Called A $ingapore Carol, this musical written by Jonathan Lim with music by Elaine Chan runs at the Victoria Theatre from November 23rd to December 15th 2018.
The story is about SK Loo (Sebastian Tan) who runs a conglomerate without a care for the human beings who serve him and his company. Then one night he is visited by three ghosts from his past (played by Siti Khalijah Zainal), his present (Audrey Luo), and his future (Candice De Rozario) who present him with snippets of his life and the people in it. They make the heartless Loo realise that his money and influence can be put to better use.
The first half is a bit draggy, with jokes on the slapstick and mundane side, rather than witty dialogue. The “Teddy Talks” segment in particular is a lacklustre way to open the show, as the theme and lines are just not captivating.
The melodies of the songs in the first half also lack interest and are not punchy enough to remember.
Thankfully, things really pick up in the second half where Lim’s writing turns more humourous, and Chan’s songs strike the right chord especially with the toe-tapping “A Million Of Me” and the emotion-heavy ballad “Christmas Out There”. In fact, since watching this show, this critic has been periodically humming the energetic closing number “Christmas No Enough” to herself!
In addition, director Hossan Leong effectively uses the First Stage! kids to add extra spice to the show. With plenty of choreographed dance items by Andy Benjamin Chai, these children add to the zaniness of this musical.
The set by Eucien Chia is stunning as usual, as the stage seamlessly transforms from Loo’s home to a children’s hospital to a digital-based columbarium. Also, the creatively designed costumes by Thailand’s Tube Gallery are very eye-catching with their bright colours and sparkles.
Overall, W!ld Rice’s A $ingapore Carol may be a slow starter, but eventually it reveals itself to be a fun musical, made for local families, with good songs and dialogue to entertain, beautiful costumes and sets, and a message to love everyone this festive season – or even after the season’s over. As “Christmas No Enough” remind us, we need to love each other, for always.