Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Interview - Broadway star Stephanie Reese - 13 and 14 Dec 2017

Hawk Liu has a dialogue with Broadway/West End star Stenphanie Reese ahead of her appearance in Sean Ghazi's upcoming concert on 13 and 14 December 2017. Find out how a college job led her into a full time career on the Great White Way!

The Mad Scene: Hi, Stephanie, welcome to Singapore! We can't wait to hear your lovely voice in the intimate Esplanade Recital Studio! I read in your bio that you performed in a solo concert in Carnegie Hall. How did you come about the opportunity?

Stephanie Reese: Yes it was amazing! I was asked by a producer if I would be interested in doing a concert there and of course I said yes! From there she worked with the Hall to produce it and it was a dream come true.

The Mad Scene: We would like to know about your early training in singing and performance. Do tell us your journey.

Stephanie Reese: I started off studying classical music even though I had a deep love for musical theater and pop music. My voice always had a classical tone to it but through training I was able to cross over into other genres too.

I studied privately (voice) and then I went to Indiana University for opera performance and realized fairly soon that I missed acting and I missed musical theater and transferred into Cincinnati Conservatory for musical theater. It was an exclusive and extremely competitive programme and I really thrived once I was there, so much so that I ended up landing a job in Miss Saigon where I got to play Kim while I was still in school. I left school early thinking I would come back to do the show but that job led to another and another and so I still haven't finished my formal education. But to me, the best education has been working in the field and learning from the mentors in the business I have met along the way. I still take classes though. I think it's important to always grow and learn and challenge yourself. It makes me a better teacher too, which I like to do for private coachings when I go to different cities.

The Mad Scene: You had a one-woman show, The Journey. Tell us about that journey too...and maybe where we can catch sneak clips of it anywhere?

Stephanie Reese: The journey was an amazing experience and project to create. It was the journey of my life and career and the challenges that came with it told through two characters - me and my voice. Sounds strange but the character of the voice was something I spoke to throughout the show signified by a single spot light on the stage that I would speak to throughout. It's a story of friendship and love between these two characters and the relationship between the singer and her voice. A metaphor for how our art or our talent is something that we have a relationship with outside ourselves that needs to be nurtured and loved and respected but ultimately (and the realization that happens in my show) is that the journey is the relationship you have with your own self to find self love and acceptance. 

There are no clips posted but I hope to soon!

The Mad Scene: Thank you for your time, Stephanie, and I hope to meet you in person at the concert soon!

Excited to see Stephanie live in Singapore? Check out the Events Page for tickets!

Read our writeup of An Evening with Sean Ghazi here:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

'An Evening with Sean Ghazi' - 13 and 14 Dec 2017

Sean Ghazi, last seen in Singapore as George in Wild Rice's La Cage aux Folle opposite Ivan Heng's Albin, returns to Singapore in an evening of Broadway musical and movie theme songs.

Joining him is Stephanie Reese, a West End actress who became good friends with Sean when they performed in The King and I at the London Palladium. Concert is 13 and 14 December at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Check out the Events Page for tickets!

SLO's 'Aida' Roadshow at Raffles City - 8-10, 29 and 30 Dec 2017

Find out more about the Singapore Lyric Opera's production of Aida in June 2018 at their Raffles City roadshow this and next weekend! You will get to buy tickets at early-bird discounted prices, take pictures from their photo-wall, win limited edition tote bags and event tickets! Plus you wil lget to find out more about the coming Aida production: its history and what we can expect to see. Go check it out and get your tickets at SISTIC!

Singapore Lyric Opera on the GO!
Raffles City Shopping Centre
8 to 10 Dec (Fri to Sun); 10am to 10pm
29 and 30 Dec (Fri and Sat); 10 am to 10pm

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Interview: Teng Xiang-Ting and Leslie Tay - 16 Dec 2017

If you are in the mood for festive music, vocal recital Sure on this Shining Night is surely your cup of tea. Singaporean opera stars Teng Xiang-Ting, Alvin Tan and Leslie Tay join pianist Pauline Lee to present a Christmas-themed concert, with a programme consisting of spirituals, sacred classics and a hilarious newly composed piece by local composer Lee Jin-Jun and writer Aaron Lee.

We had a chat with Teng Xiang-Ting and Leslie Tay to discuss what we can look forward to, as well as their respective musical journeys. Read on to find out what we discussed!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

'That's Me' Vocal Recital by Martin Ng and Michelle Chow - 17 Dec 2017

After chalking up more operatic successes locally and abroad, Martin Ng returns to the recital stage in a collaboration with soprano Michelle Chow entitled That's Me. This being his 4th recital in Singapore, we ask him what is different this time and what highlights can we come to expect. Check out our chat below!

The Mad Scene: How’s concert preparations coming along?

Martin Ng: Quite ok, thank you! We’re busy rehearsing every Sundays.

The Mad Scene: What are you singing for us for this concert?

Martin Ng: Its quite an exciting programme that I am presenting: I will be singing the Aida/Amonasro duet from Aida and the Santuzza/Alfio duet from Cavalleria Rusticana among them.

The Mad Scene: Ooh! Ambitious stuff!

Martin Ng: Plus you will get to hear me sing a number of Chinese songs as well: 教我如何不想她 (How Can I Not Think About Her?), 多情的土地 (Oh How I Love this Land), 黃河頌 (Ode to the Yellow River) and 那就是我 (That is Me) in a duet arrangement. Lastly, I will also be revisiting Dulcamara’s entrance aria and presenting two art songs by Tosti.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

'The Sound of Music in Four Minutes' by The SoDa Players

Not free to catch The Sound of Music production at MBS? Fret not, local group The SoDa Players provides everything you need to know about the classic musical in only four minutes; jsut click on the video below. How's that for a time saver?

Monday, November 27, 2017

MBS Sound of Music 2017 in Review - till 3 Dec 2017

by Jeremy Lee

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...in 1959, Mary Martin trod onto a Broadway stage and sang “The Sound Of Music” for the first time…..wait, what? What happened to Julie Andrews?

For everybody who thinks that the legendary The Sound Of Music started with Julie Andrews twirling around the hills of Salzburg...nah, that was just the 1965 movie. The production currently running at the MasterCard Theatres at the Marina Bay Sands till 3 December is here to put you right.

Turns out The Sound Of Music began life as a Broadway stage musical with iconic Broadway star Mary Martin originating the lead role of Maria von Trapp. And that, NOT the Julie Andrews movie, is the production that’s now being revived at the Marina Bay Sands, after a successful run at the same venue in 2014.

Well, what’s the difference, you may ask? First, the good news: Don’t worry, all your favourite tunes are still here, including, well, “My Favourite Things”. Toe-tappers like “Do Re Mi”, “The Lonely Goatherd” and “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” are still intact, and stirring numbers like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Edelweiss” are present too.

Some of these much-loved songs are just repositioned, that’s all. For example, “My Favourite Things”, sung by Maria and the children in the movie during the thunderstorm scene in her bedroom, is now sung much earlier in the show... and by the Mother Abbess, just like how it was supposed to be in the stage musical. Maria and the children now sing “The Lonely Goatherd” during the thunderstorm scene.

However, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the movie who knows every sequence by heart, you won’t detect much different from this production, and will thoroughly enjoy it as much as you enjoyed the movie.

Now, the better news: There are indeed some obvious differences between this production and the movie. The most striking of all is we have two “new” songs that the original stage musical had, which were cut from the movie. And both of them involve Baroness Elsa Schräder singing!

Audiences might be bewildered to hear the Baroness and Max, who were both distinctly non-musical in the movie, breaking out in song not once, but twice, in the ditties “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way To Stop It”, which both explain their somewhat cynical attitudes towards life and how they are at odds with the simplicity of Maria and the von Trapps. Upon listening to the songs, it’s quite evident why they were cut from the movie: They have a distinctly different feel from the rest of the songs in the musical, and presumably composers Rodgers and Hammerstein did this to deliberately set them apart from the rest of the more innocent and heartfelt songs. For Singaporeans who love to get a bargain, though, we should just take it as a bonus -- two additional songs we didn’t even ask for, and they are capably sung by Haylea Heyns as the Baroness and Jonathan Taylor as Max.

And as a bonus, the two songs that were added in the movie but were not in the original stage production -- “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” -- are also here, so audiences will get the best of both worlds.

As for the performance, a clear standout is Janelle Visagie as the Mother Abbess. Though the role doesn’t get much stage time, she has the necessary gravitas and charisma to steal the show whenever she’s on stage.for the role, and most importantly she has the singing chops for a rousing version of  “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”. Visagie’s operatic background is put to good use in the Act 1 closing number, and it makes her the performer that evokes the fondest memories for aficionados of the movie.

Another notable mention is Carmen Pretorius, who like all the Marias before her has a very tough job to even come close to the magnificence of Julie Andrews. Though her vocals are far from the stylings of the English Dame (who, indeed, can match up to them?), she makes the role her own with a spunk and winning chemistry with the children. As with most Marias, though, she seems to have more chemistry with the children than her eventual husband Captain von Trapp (Nicholas Maude).

Parents may come to marvel at the children, who are indeed adorable. The production has chosen 18 young actors and actress right here in Singapore to play the 6 youngest von Trapp children (with the eldest, Liesl, played by the delightful Zoe Beavon). Each child character will be alternated between 3 children. So if you like children and want to support young local talent, you can’t miss this chance to catch them in action.

If you’re still reading this review, you’re probably already interested in the show, so what are you waiting for? We can guarantee you’ll have a great night out.

Intrigued? Here's your last chance to get tickets to The Sound of Music at MBS! Get your tickets at SISTIC!