PEr FYI

June 21, 2020

Le Petit Chef, Singapore…Eating out just got a futuristic makeover

Eating out just got a futuristic makeover.

Diners take their place with a blank book is placed in front of them. Though nothing is written there, we follow the adventures of a tiny chef – an augmented reality thumbsize Frenchman character – as he embarks on a journey from Marseilles to Arabia, India, the Himalayas and China. Of all the dishes, only dessert sees the Frenchman ‘preparing the meal’. He pulls up all the spices and ingredients to whip up one final sweet treat. He does expense all effort, laboriously hauling the weight of stirring-spoons and the ingredients.

Is the experience worth it? It’s not cheap and with the food was a mix of hits and misses, so it would have been worth it only if you’re deep-pocketed enough and the entire meal was as fun to watch as the dessert. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 3, 2020

Aurum Theatre, Johor Bahru…Public Rip-Off No. 1.

Let’s cut to the chase. Aurum’s an experience you’ll never remember, but  one which your bank balance won’t forget. It is not just eye-poppingly expensive, it’s overpriced.

As ever, the money could be justified if it was all “praise be” and “hallelujah”, but at an asphyxiating MYR150 per ticket (yes, you read that right), this feels like a consolation prize and like daylight robbery. The food was uninspiring, the taste was average and certainly not exquisite or wow. Don’t get me wrong, the cinema quality, comfort and product were good, but nothing near what I would expect from one what reviewer described, “Is this a cinema or a hotel?” Sadly, it just wasn’t that impressive and we went away thinking we had spent far too much money for the experience

There is the unshakable sense that I’ve been scammed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 1, 2020

The Cher Show, New York City…a mixed bag

If you grew up on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in the mid-’70s, like I did, there is probably nothing I could write here that would keep you away from The Cher Show.

There were too many character arcs and agendas to serve — three Chers, several careers, 35 songs. All the songs were there – “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”, “If I could turn back time,” “Believe” – it’s impossible not to karaoke along. Stephanie J. Block’s spectacularly commanding performance – her take on Cher – goes beyond impersonation into respectful homage, and while the vocal likeness is uncanny. We get to witness all of Cher’s struggles and triumphs, but are not especially moved by them. Unlike Mamma Mia, the songs rarely tell the story. The costumes are simply sensational, ranging from the nostalgia trippiness of the 1960s to the famous feathered get-up of the 1986 Oscars. This, to me is just a fancy but empty jukebox musical.

I’m still left wondering what The Cher Show is exactly. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 4, 2019

Phantom of the Opera, Singapore…still awesome spectacle after all these years

It has been more than 15 years since I first saw, and was not particularly entranced by, “The Phantom of the Opera,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that has been playing for more than 33 years (longest-running show in Broadway and the West End history!) and grossed $6 billion dollars worldwide (more than any other musical or even, gasp, movie!). But after watching it for the third time, I am made to love the lush, romantic, string-filled songs, the effect is offset by the comic jauntiness of Prima Donna or the pavane-like stateliness of Masquerade with neat lyrics (‘Masquerade-paper faces on parade,’)

The score, story, and visual wonders of this grandest of all current Broadway musicals,  the intoxicating power of songs such as “The Music of the Night” and the thunderous title number remains irresistible. The design is a heady barrage of ravishing costumes and lavish sets that change frequently, working in everything even to a descent into the underworld via a tilting bridge that leads to a candle-filled lake. No one can ever say that they’re not getting their money’s worth from this ticket.

There are musicals and musicals—and then there is the incomparable Phantom of the Opera: Awesome in scale. Luscious with melody. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 22, 2018

The Book of Mormon, London…vulgar, offensive but extremely lovable musical

‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert ‘Avenue Q’ Lopez are the folks behind this Broadway-munching musical, so brace yourself for a shock.

For me this winner of 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical is the best West End musical in recent times. It’s good-natured poking of fun at all things sacred. Very funny, breathing three-dimensional, all-singing, all-dancing life into the absurdities of literal Mormon dogma without ever being particularly mean. A series of great-to-sublime songs; the lyrics are deliciously witty, and the superb score is packed with catchy melodies.

Be warned: “Mormon” is irreverent, racist, raunchy and profane, and insults just about everyone. You may be ashamed of how much you enjoyed it, but that’s forgivable.

I can give an “Amen” to that. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 8, 2018

Aladdin, London…bland Disney magic

Colourful designs and lively song and dance routines. The songs themselves are a mixed bag: the big romantic number A Whole New World is completely upstaged by the magic carpet that floats through the air with no strings attached. Not visibly, anyway. The Genie’s big show-stopper Friend Like Me – a jazzy riot of infectious trick-mustering showmanship that conjures the spirit of Las Vegas and hits the jack-pot in terms of hummability.

There’s so little of Lion King’s fecundity of imagination here that the ideal target audience would seem to be much younger, and more easily impressed. There’s been a cull of the animals – Abu  and Iago – that featured in the 1992 cartoon. It barely rises above the generic.

My honest advice, save your pound sterling. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 24, 2018

Miss Saigon on Broadway, New York… pretty schmaltzy

Miss Saigon is back in New York. Known as “the musical with the helicopter,” it’s a tale of   doomed love affair between a young Vietnamese woman and an American GI in the last days of the Vietnam War. I am one of a whole new generation of theatregoers who never saw it during its run 20 years ago, and jumped at the chance to see it now.

Much of those songs are sweeping, melodramatic ballads. The likable and undeniably talented Philippines actor Jon Jon Briones, the show’s slimy pimp known as the Engineer is equally contemptible and charming. He delivered the stunning upbeat ‘American Dream’ number to perfection. He even threw in a joke about making America great again (something that surely wasn’t in the original script).

I can’t say I was deeply moved. Still, it’s a pretty schmaltzy show. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 26, 2017

Muay Thai Live, Bangkok…1 1/2 hours simply flies by

Thai boxing, also known as Muay Thai, is similar to regular boxing but with the addition of kicks, knee and elbow strikes and various clinching techniques.  It is reputedly one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

In a nutshell, Muay Thai Live at Asiatique Bangkok is a choreographed live performance combining entertaining performances with sounds, lighting and music effects and muay thai fights with storylines. Directed by award-winning Thai film director Ekachai Uekrongtham, the 90 minutes show traces the history of the art of Thai boxing and its place in Thai culture.

I never thought I’d say this of a local production but one and a half hours simply flies by. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 26, 2017

Calypso, Bangkok…burlesque, or rather more appropriately boylesque

Filed under: Activities, attraction, cabaret, restaurant, show, Thailand, theatre — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 8:41 pm

Bangkok is, without question, the world capital of gender-bending performing arts.

At Calypso, the ladyboys take the stage for a 75-minute-long splashy show that features dancers, lavish costumes, musical interludes and comedy. Some of the boys-as-babes try their best to impersonate and lip-sync some of the most well-known female musicians.

Yes, everything is opulent and over the top. But the prices are steep and the bar staff can be snooty.

My advice? If you’ve seen this kind of cabaret before, there won’t be a lot of surprises here. But if you never have — or if you’re a fan — it’s probably worth the coin to take in Calypso. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 11, 2015

Universal Citywalk, Orlando…super touristy but I love the atmosphere

Universal Citywalk is a shopping and entertainment area that is free for anyone to enter. You don’t have to go to the parks. You can hang out here. Located at the entrance of their main theme parks, there is a lot to see & do; plenty of dining options, drinking holes, souvenir shops and cinemas. All or almost all of them are chains so you aren’t getting any local flair here.

The largest Hard Rock Café in the world, The Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co and many more…no matter what your taste, you can find something you love here! For what they do, Hot Dog Hall of Fame is great. The place itself was pretty teeny tiny but they offer a line up of 9 hot dogs all served with French fries. The Detroit: Koegel dog, Abbott’s coney chili and diced onions was simply outstanding. I wish I had ordered two.

CityWalk’s Rising Star, Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom, Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX and many others provide entertainment that comes alive when the sun goes down. More than 10 million people worldwide have experienced the unique style of Blue Man Group. Three mysterious, talented, and energetic bold and blue characters takes the audience ona goofy, kiddish, colorful, big ole party…which would be fun for kids. It’s definitely so overloaded with skits/acts that you almost forget there’s legitimately no substance to them. I’m not sure why the audience was laughing so hard; either they were into the silly acts or they were all high.

Super tourist-y or not, I love the atmosphere and hustle & bustle of CityWalk. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

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