Saturday, November 26, 2005

Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.

Last night was opening night for "Rent," at Kallang Theatre, performed by the touring cast from Noo Yawk. Yes, this is the one with Ms Mok (not Pat) in it to give an Asian audience someone to root for.

So much can happen in a year. Friends are made, lovers pair up, plans change, romances disintegrate, trust is betrayed, fame is gained, somebody dies. Not necessarily in that order but that's life, social beings that we are. And in this setting, we get the debate between order, control and profit vs. chaos, spontaneity and poverty; corporate systemania vs. creative Bohemia. Either way, the 2 cannot find a way to get along together. Interesting that in Singapore, we're trying to develop both in the same space.

Bohemia comes with a price tag. Crime, substance abuse, disease, material privation, disregard for established law and order. We want the benefits of a lively, spontaneous, creative, out-of-the-box lifestyle that Bohemia promises; yet consider our attitude towards the above. Wonder how realistic we are in our desire for a managed bohemian utopia? [Oy, get off the soapbox, you!]

The musical has lots of exciting, energetic choreography, nothing overcomplicated. Adrian was quite tickled by the character of performance artiste, Maureen, whose protest recital (the play-within-the play) was played-for-laughs silly, yet poignant; and because our seats were extreme left of the stalls, we got the full benefit of her mooning the entrepreneur, Benny, whose rent the Bohemians refuse to pay. Yay, Maureen!

Also lots of different musical genres blending together in the score, so there's not a boring moment anytime. There were a few technical hitches though, like sound and lighting cues not quite perfect yet. I was surprised when Mimi, Ms Mok's character, got a call from her mother, "Dónde está, Mimi?" Then I realised Mimi was supposed to be Hispanic! Wouldn't it have made more sense for her mom to call in Cantonese?

But what are we quibbling about? It's a great show, we had excellent seats and we got in by invitation, big thanks to Mary! Mary's invite included drinks with the cast as well, hence the dress code. We only hung around long enough for Ms Mok to make her appearance 'cos, well, it was our chance to be so close. She's actually quite small-built though she looks taller on-screen, and she has a very wide smile. Guess she must have been happy to see the couple of fans (not from our party, I assure you) who approached her for an autograph.

Adrian's walnut bread -- which we devoured in the parking lot during the interval -- didn't last us long. As soon as was decent, we skipped out from the reception and headed for Teochew porridge at the Oasis complex. Food, at last!

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