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Some good moments stick out in this hit-and-miss musical about a girls' school.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Detention Katong’ by Dream Academy

Dream Academy’s new musical Detention Katong is running at the Esplanade Theatre from February 17th to March 5th 2017.

This musical is about 15-year-old Amanda (Valerie Choo) who studies at the fictitious Geylang Girls’ Secondary School and typically excels in both her studies and behaviour. However when her mother starts acting suspicious and pays less attention to her, Amanda decides to behave badly – and lands not only in detention but also as a piece of scandal at the school.

Detention Katong is hit-and-miss, unfortunately, as its plot is wafer-thin, the humour is oftentimes corny, and despite having a bevy of seasoned music makers as melody creators – such as Benjamin Kheng, Elaine Chan and Sarah Cheng-De Winnie – the songs aren’t catchy enough and therefore aren’t memorable.

Having said that, though, a few good moments stick out: Valerie Choo’s sweet and crystal-clear singing and Sebastian Tan’s rich and smooth vocals are a delight to hear.

Tan also shows off his skills at portraying various accents as he and Neo Swee Lin play different ethnicities of parents. Neo easily matches Tan in her superb delivery of the varying accents.

Suhaimi Yusof who plays the Physical Education teacher has the best comedic lines which he delivers with great comic timing and tone. It’s a pity he didn’t get more of those.

In fact Yusof performs one of the songs pretty well – except his voice is drowned out by the live musicians. Backup singers would have made this song more effective – and some of the other songs too.

On the acting side of things, Serene Chen plays Amanda’s mother to perfection, with the expressions and body language that make Chen so entertaining to watch.

Above all, it’s the girls of the school – both good and bad – who add spice to this otherwise rather bland musical. Credit goes to Director Selena Tan and actresses Inch Chua, Munah Bagharib, Kimberly Chan, Natalie Yeap, Melissa Gan, Sharon Sum and Alyssa Lie. These young actresses play supporting roles but manage to make their characters distinct from what could have easily amalgamated into a single body of school friends.

Detention Katong might not get a good grade overall from me, but there are certainly some little gems to enjoy.

About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

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

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