Bellepoque's latest production pays tribute to the music of Offenbach and the stories of French poet Jean de La Fontaine, with most of the music taken from the composer's collection of song settings The Fables of Fontaine in addition to two operetta excerpts. The result, as directed by Sharon Joy Frese and assistant director Wang Liansheng and accompanied by music director Dr. Robert Casteels, resulted in a colourful, energetic production, full of child-like humour.
Little boy George (played by a suitably boyish Jeremy Koh) refuses to go to bed, begging his Mom (Sabrina Zuber who for some reason moves half-pointe while flapping her arms like a swan) for one bedtime story after another, and playing with his toys: a doll (Angela Cortez), a soldier (Leslie Tay) and a teddy bear (Daniel Ho). Bored at first by his Mom's insistence on reading the classic children's stories of his ancestor Jean de La Fontaine, he soon becomes absorbed into them, reenacting them with his toys once mom has left the room.
The premise of playing out a child's imagination fits Offenbach's whimsical music perfectly. Eschewing the usual arias and duets, the musical numbers are mostly ensemble pieces involving three or more voices and often involving all cast members in some intricate stage business, which they delivered with great chemistry and crisp French diction (all expertly coached no doubt). Most of the numbers are so unknown that one might assume that they were written for this show if not told otherwise (some rearrangement to the vocal parts and creative changes to the lyrics and surtitles no doubt helped). Dialogue is in English peppered with French phrases.
Overall this production a great ensemble effort, tightly rehearsed. Its musical drama that is fun and funny, everything that we have come to expect from a Bellepoque production. Do catch the two more shows left on 15 and 16 May. All audience get to receive discount vouchers from local French food store LePetitDepot.com and The Better Toy Store!
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