by Yasmeen Banu
A single contrasting spotlight shone on Ms Ng. She took the center of the stage by force, with a long ruler in hand, and the school’s motto “Nemo debet vos vitae!” echoing throughout the theatre. “No one owes you a living!” she said, staring directly at the audience, addressing the pupils of Geylang Girls Secondary School. That was the beginning of Dream Academy’s Detention Katong musical.
Just when you thought there was no way you could relive your younger days, Detention Katong reminds you of the times you were late to school, dying of boredom during detention, and your teachers towering over you while you used your mobile phone. Supported by a strong cast of familiar faces, audiences were taken on a memorable journey of epic puns, hilarious dialogues, energetic musical scores, and relatable teenage-angst.
The strength of the show lies in the realness of each scene, leading audiences through the confusing age of being a teenager, and the distinct perspectives of the teachers as well as parents. But it was not just that. A good portion of the musical was also focused on the teachers, principal, and discipline mistress of the school, played by Sebastian Tan, Neo Swee Lin, Suhaimi Yusof, and Darius Tan. Each with their own take on the education system, their own past, the challenges students’ faces in the new age of technology and influences, and their dedication towards their students, their lines and music numbers often brought cheers, laughter, and applause from the audience.
The most versatile, and perhaps demanding of all roles however, was by Valerie Choo, who plays Amanda Chin – the model student who got herself into detention to deal with the issues she has with her mother. Valerie was breathtakingly flexible in her performance and captured the audience with the whirlwind of her emotions – from discovering how her good girl friends are not that good, to wanting to be part of the “bad girls” detention group, to feeling like she is losing touch with her mother.
While it may seem like Detention Katong revolves around relatable subjects, the musical also centrally focuses on matters such as cyber-bullying, not being academically inclined, sexual orientation, and friends who may not be as they seem.
Accompanied by the stellar cast and their exceptional execution of their multi-layered role, the musical scores did not just complement the storyline, but added a refreshing spin with flawless vocals and lyrics that drew praise from the audience from just their opening night.
Written and directed by Selena Tan, you don’t want to miss the very whimsical Detention Katong!
Detention Katong will be playing at the Esplanade Theatres from the 17th of February to the 5th of March. Tickets are available via Sistic.
To stand a chance in winning a pair of tickets for the show on 24 Feb, 8 pm. Visit TOC’s Facebook post here and like/share/comment in order to qualify for a chance at a lucky draw.