PEr FYI

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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February 29, 2020

Cats, Singapore…Too slow, too tame, too threadbare

Filed under: Activities, Entertainment, Musical, Singapore, theatre — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 4:42 pm

From the moment I bought the tickets, I was filled with regret, thinking this musical is going to be hideously dated, boring, empty, meaningless, unfunny. For the entirety of the two hours I sat watching Cats, there’s no plot and no apparent point, but I travelled home afterwards humming the one tune – Memory.

Although the anthropomorphised felines, in their spandex leotards and furry leg warmers, prowl the aisles and glare in the eyes of the punters but somehow the show, with its trademark junkyard set, does not feel like an immersive experience. Whilst the music sometimes jarred a little, the choreography of this production was spectacular. However, there was several songs that turned out to be pleasant surprises

Cats is a musical unlike any other. If you are looking for more traditional West End or Broadway music and a clear plot, you perhaps ought to go elsewhere.

The “memory” lives again. 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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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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February 4, 2017

4DX Theatre, Paragon Cineplex, Bangkok…the next generation in movie watching

4DX theaters come with the technology providing environmental effects synced with the movie. Imagine seeing a movie in 3D (glasses and all) but with added physical sensations like wind, rain, and a moving seat.

I tested the technology for the first time through Disney’s new release, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” I have to admit that at times watching the audience seems more compelling than the movie I was viewing. Perhaps, thankfully too, I could not detect any smells during the movie. I am not sure whether a malfunctioning system, a programming error or my sinus allergies were to blame. Whenever someone was firing bullets, compressed air was fired at my head. The flashing lights on the side of the auditorium that were supposed to represent lightning and timid sprays of water whenever the action got near bodies of liquid. Whenever punches are thrown, your chair pokes you in the back, like an airport massage lounger gone berserk

The short of it? 4DX is unlike anything I’ve felt in a movie theater before, and it was just cool enough that I would recommended splurging on a great movie. However, movie selection is key. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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