“Detention Katong”, a star-studded musical performance by Dream Academy Productions which tells about a goody-two-shoes student who turns to petty offence to seek her single mother’s attention as part of a bigger story of how teenagers manage the hectic and rigid education system in Singapore, and learning how friends and enemies may not be who they seem to be.
Into the first few minutes of the musical, “Detention Katong”, Neo Swee Lin who plays the Discipline Mistress, brings the audience into the act itself by reacting to their laughter and jeers as what we as students used to do during our school assemblies. Though as short it may be, this short interaction with Neo, conditions the audience to think back to the days when they were schooling or for those are schooling, to build a sense of connection between the musical and their reality.
Though the stage for the musical, may be bare as compared to productions of other drama companies in Singapore, Dream Academy never fails to fill the void with the glow of its talented performance artists.
A particular mention to the lead actress, Valerie Choo for her role as Amanda Chin, a straight ‘A’s student who turns into a defiant teenager to gain the attention of her mother. Having to shuffle between two extremes of character, yet maintaining the clarity of the inner emotions, one cannot but to soak up her energy during her time on stage.
Choo is joined by her co-casts; Kimberly Chan, Melissa Gan, Natalie Yeap, Sharon Sum, Alyssa Lie, Munah Bagharib (Oh, she is so pretty in real life!), and iNCH Chua, as other students in the school, each taking up a familiar character whom one would have seen or have known. Adding to the diverse characters of students, is a cast of stereotype teachers: The Discipline Mistress of Pain (Neo Swee Lin, Phua Chu Kang’s Ah Ma), a hotshot know-it-all Principal (Darius Tan, Monkey Goes West), the School Counsellor in need of counselling (Sebastian Tan a.k.a Broadway Beng®) and the worldly-wise Malay & PE teacher (Suhaimi Yusof, The Noose).
The presence of all these unique characters, make the show all the closer to one’s memorable schooling days.
Acting skills apart, be amazed at the stunning vocal performance by the artists in the musical. Personally, I was stunned at how good Suhaimi Yusof sang his song. Don’t play play, Mr Yusof can be suave if he wants to be so look out for his performance if you are watching the show!
Judging from the reaction of the students who were watching the show with me that day, this show struck close to the heart of teenagers. One might say this enables them to look at their daily difficulties from a third party perspective, allowing them to look at themselves via a mirror and reflect upon themselves on their choice of actions and words used with their friends, teachers and family members.
End of the day, the motto of the story from the musical, might just be that the answer to many communication problems in our complicated urbanised life is just a simple heart to heart, face to face talk with the person you are trying to communicate to instead of trying to express your feelings in ways that the other might not understand.
A humorous and enjoyable musical recommended for those who reminisce about the days of schooling during adolescence, and for families who wish to explore the difficult topics of teenagehood with their children through reflections amidst uncontrollable fits of laughter.
(How would I, a guy be reminded of my school with a cast of female students? Google Choa Chu Kang Secondary School Uniform. On another note, a musical about a mixed school would have been complicated for the playwright to come up with a script.)
Tickets can be purchased at SISTIC ticketing outlets or its online website.
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 to qualify for a chance at a lucky draw.
Venue| Esplanade Theatre
Timing| Tue – Fri: 8pm; Sat & Sun: 3pm & 8pm; 25 Feb: 8pm
Standard: S$100, S$80, S$55, S$35
Restricted View: S$100, S$55, S$35
Standard (Tue – Thu, Sat Matinee & Sun):
Standard: S$150, S$120, S$80, S$50
Restricted View: S$150, S$80, S$50
Weekend (Fri & Sat Night):
Standard: S$160, S$130, S$90, S$60
Restricted View: S$160, S$90, S$60