Monday, December 17, 2012

"Belle Epoque - Orient Express" in Review

This review was sent in some time back but slipped my notice after waiting for a few weeks for relevant production pictures from the team, but better late than never I guess. Check out Hawk's take on the show here:


Belle Epoque - Another murder on the Orient Express
30 November 2012
The Arts House, Living Room
Singapore

Nicole Stinton, concept, direction
Dr Robert Casteels, Music direction
Sean Huan Yuh, violinist
Kristy Griffin, soprano, Australia
Sabrina Zuber, soprano, Italy
Tim Garner, actor, New Zealand
Jonathan Lum , tenor, Singapore
Tom Ragen, tenor, Australia
Melvin Tan, tenor, Singapore

A Review by Hawk Liu

Photo credit: Silvia Hagge de Crespin
Morriss Weissman (Tim), a film writer, finds himself on the Orient Express with a murder mystery that he inevitably tries to solve. He meets other crazy passengers who makes his task more than interesting. The host of characters appearing on the train are the most unusual bunch you'll ever meet and what seems to be just a crazy boy (Tom) chase girl (Kristy) situation, turns into a thickening of the plot. What are two Chinese suave brothers (Melvin, Jonathan  doing on the train? And most of all who is this omnipresent Lady Beatrice (Sabrina) who is connected to everybody?

I like the old-fashioned feel of the production as the story brings us back to the early 20th century music of Offenbach, Messager, Gilbert and Sullivan and some other older French composers. I love the mutli-lingual script with Chinese, French, Australian, American, and the accents are hilarious  The national references in light of the actual actors playing their characters are genius  Having lived in Perth for 4 years myself, it was such a good welcome to hear Tom do Australian-speak, not to mention his very funny attempt at French. Tom's Gilbert and Sullivan number is aptly chosen for him. Kristy appears quite French with her convincing accent and costume and was a delight to watch. Love her squeals throughout the show too. The Chinese brothers are quite a handful, imposing their presence very strongly. Melvin certainly sings his socks off - and he shows off the amazing range of his strong falsetto in the Bizet dance number. A big favourite is an Offenbach duet the brothers sing, which the audience cheered. What about Lady Beatrice? She slithers up everyone's sleeve in the show and everyone plays around her as she drinks and sings (a very decent doll song from Tales of Hoffmann, I must say). She drinks and faints, and then she drinks and sings. Love the acting Sabrina! Tim plays an admirable sleuth and the very tough job of being on stage almost the entire show, and reacting to everybody on stage. I know what a tough job that is! The musicians get to say lines too and Kristy flirts with the pianist more than once.

Photo credit: Silvia Hagge de Crespin
If you like old-fashioned things, it's a good show to let your hair down, not take the plot or the characters too seriously, and just sit back and have a few laughs and enjoy the music and the craziness. The twists and turns in the second half are just awesome!

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