The Feast of Fools

24 12 2013

A scene that is one of several that celebrates the musical Notre Dame de Paris, currently playing at the MBS MasterCard Theatres, is possibly The Feast of Fools. Accompanied by the confused frenzy of movement, it is at this point that sees the introduction of Quasimodo, the well-known character of the tale behind the musical many would be familiar with from their childhoods, who in the scene is crowned the King of Fools.

Belle, one of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical.

One of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical, during which the popular song, Belle, was sung. The musical features Matt Laurent as Quasimodo (L) and Alssandra Ferrari (R) as Esmeralda.

It is not the Quasimodo that in the wake of Disney’s retelling of Victor Hugo’s novel that many would recognise. The same can unfortunately be said of the storyline or the lack of it in its musical version. Except for a few popular music numbers such as Belle, it would probably be better remembered for what has to be said, was a impressive display of dance.

Another scene shown during the preview - Refugees - which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Another scene shown during the preview – Refugees – which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Certainly for me, the musical did not quite live up to the hype that surrounds it. Whatever my impressions are, the musical is still quite a watchable one and certainly one that does provide some entertainment value – that is if you need some extra to distract you this Christmas season. The musical, which opened on 17 December 2013, will see its run in Singapore extended to 11 January 2014. For more information and also for ticketing, do visit the Marina Bay Sand’s page for the musical, or the SISTIC website.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.


More on the musical (from a press release from its Singapore opening):

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Singapore – 17 December 2013 – The musical spectacular Notre Dame de Paris, which has become a phenomenon around the world cutting across generations, opens tonight at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, Grand Theatre. Performed for the first time in Singapore in English this majestical show tells the story of Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Esmeralda the Gypsy girl, in one of the most powerful love stories in history on par with Romeo and Juliet.

Since premiering in Paris, France in September 1998, the musical has attracted audiences of more than 4 million in France alone and broken box office records in Canada, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and South Korea surpassing 10 million spectators while combined sales of soundtrack and cast albums have reached the 10 million mark.

Notre Dame de Paris has been staged over 4000 times in 20 other countries, including Italy, Great Britain and the United States, receiving standing ovations every night.

Faithful to Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre Dame de Paris, the show tells the emotionally charged story of the unfortunate Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral Bell Ringer, the hunchback Quasimodo, and his hopeless devotion for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. Phoebus, the untruthful soldier and Frollo, the priest torn between his faith to God and his desires will compete for Esmeralda’s love. While Clopin, the leader of the refugees or underclass, and Gringoire the poet will try to save Esmeralda.

The musical spectacular is the creation of lyricist Luc Plamondon and composer Richard Cocciante, whom have both won numerous awards for their work and is directed by Gilles Maheu. The English lyrics were written by Will Jennings, Oscar-winner for “My heart Will Go On” from the smash-hit film Titanic.

“It’s a well-known story which stands up on its own and doesn’t need to be explained. That’s why there are at least a dozen films based on the Victor Hugo novel, from the silent era to the recent Disney animation,” said Luc Plamandon.

Reminiscent of The Beauty and the Beast and presaging The Phantom of the Opera, Notre Dame de Paris remains a poignant and powerful myth with some of the interwoven storylines being more relevant today than ever: asylum-seekers, racism, the role of religion, the fear of the unknown and man’s place in an ever-changing world.

Riccardo Cocciante beautiful melodies will leave a long lasting impression on local  audiences. Featuring more than 54 vivid arias of operatic beauty and rock resonance, the characters are brought to life through stunning vocal performances and visual spectacle – courtesy of the show’s seven principal artistes and 24 dancers and acrobats.

The show will feature acrobatic contemporary dance choreography by Martino Muller, renowned modern dance visionary, contrasting with a beautiful love story moments to create an audience experience reminiscent of French cirque. Dancers appear to be flying across the stage under fantastic arcs, freely incorporating gymnastics, contemporary and even break dance moves into their repertoire – at one moment whirling across the floor in a series of pirouettes, and the next tumbling from a bungee rope high above the stage.

The show will be presented on a grand scale at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. The modern impressionistic stage set features a 12 metre high ‘climbing wall’ representing the façade of the grand cathedral of Notre Dame as well as the famous Bastille prison in Paris. This amazing edifice is also the platform for a series of stunning acrobatic routines that will leave the audience breathless.

Notre Dame de Paris, the musical spectacular, stands out because of the masterful staging and artistic integrity of director Gilles Maheu, who has revived the 170-year old story with contemporary touches and deft inspiration incorporating choreographies by Martino Muller and costumes designed by Fred Sathal and set by Christian Ratz.

The English language album, featuring the main stars of the London production, also features guest star Celine Dion singing “Live for the One I Love”.
Hit musical, rock-show, opera, concept-album or gothic melodrama, Notre-Dame de Paris retains traditional theatrical elements while using modern staging techniques and choreography to present eternal, universal, mythical tales and themes.

About Notre Dame de Paris

  • First opened at ‘Palais des Congres’ theatre in Paris in September 1998
  • Based on the novel ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ written by Victor Hugo in 1831
  • Sell-out tours in France, Canada, England, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, America, Italy, Monaco
  • 4000 performances over 20 countries and seen by more than 10 million people.
  • The most sensational and successful musical in France, Italy, Belgium and Russia
  • Taking Europe by storm, “Notre Dame de Paris’ opened in London at the Dominion Theatre on 23 May 2000, following previews which opened on 15 May 2000.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, Notre Dame de Paris still holds the record as the show with the most successful first year of any musical ever produced.

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Edging in with a song cycle

12 04 2013

A lighthearted and surprisingly entertaining production which is currently playing at the Drama Centre in Singapore is EDGES the Musical. Produced by Sight Lines Productions and directed by Derrick Chew, the musical takes a look at four characters – young adults at the crossroads between adolescence and adulthood. Their experiences, their hopes and dreams and their emotions are expressed through what is a fairly new concept in their use in musicals seen in Singapore (and to me), a song cycle.

Edges features a cast of four young locally based performers in a small scale but highly entertaining musical.

Edges features a cast of four young locally based performers in a small scale but highly entertaining musical.

Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (who are the youngest winners of the Jonathan Larson Award), and with performances seen in North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa, Edges features “Be My Friend” in its song cycle, more popularly known perhaps as the “Facebook Song” which went viral on the internet. In it is a locally based cast, three of whom are from LASALLE College of the Arts Musical Theatre Programme, Mina Kaye, Linden Furnell, and Kristy Griffin. The fourth member of the extremely talented cast is Benjamin Kheng, a member of  local indie band, The Sam Willows, who has been named as one of ST Life’s face to watch in 2013.

Benjamin Kheng who has been named as one of ST Life's face to watch in 2013.

Benjamin Kheng who has been named as one of ST Life’s face to watch in 2013.

While the production does examine contemporary issues faced by the young adults of today, told through catchy tunes and lyrics which offer a witty look at situations the characters face, most of us (myself, having left that phase in life far behind, included) can quite easily relate to the characters’ experiences. Combined with what must be said is a masterful performance provided by the young cast, the musical was great fun, thoroughly enjoyable and well worth very bit of the one-and-a-half hours of time spent watching the characters deal with the emotional roller coaster associated with the coming of age.

Mina Kaye a graduate of LASALLE's Musical Theatre who made her professional stage debut at the Esplanade Theatre in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

Mina Kaye a graduate of LASALLE’s Musical Theatre who made her professional stage debut at the
Esplanade Theatre in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

EDGES the Musical runs from 3 to 19 April 2013 at the Drama Centre Blackbox (National Library Building Level 5). Showtimes are on Mondays to Fridays at 8 pm and on Saturdays at 5 pm and 8 pm. Tickets are avilable at S$38/- with discounts available for Arts Platinum & FRANK Cards (15%), and all other OCBC Cards as well as PAssion Card (10%) at TicketMash.

Linden Furnell and Kristy Griffin.

Linden Furnell and Kristy Griffin are also graduates of LASALLE.


I have two pairs of tickets, courtesy of Sight Lines Productionss, for the show on Monday 15 April 2013 to give away. If you are interested, do drop me an email by Saturday 13 April 2013 with your name, email address, and why you would like to catch the show. Winners will be notified by email the following day.


Production photographs courtesy of Sight Lines Productions