When one thinks about musicals, one would imagine Wicked, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables. Well, Edges the Musical introduces a different genre of musical theatre – the song cycle – where there isn’t a clear storyline unlike most traditional musicals. The song cycle is quite literally a cycle of songs. Each number touches on different topics that all relate to the central theme of growing up. Edges the Musical stars four young adults exploring the pains and privileges that come with the transition from childhood to adulthood. Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul originally, director Derrick Chew tailors universal themes of sexuality, love, heartbreak and hope to the local context.
What greets audiences upon entering the cozy little theatre is the set designed with just two walls, fully furnished to depict a typical youngster’s room. The compact setting allowed the performers to be in close proximity to the audience. It played to the production’s advantage with easy eye contact and interaction with the cast, making for an incredibly intimate show.
Benjamin Kheng, Linden Furnell, Kristy Griffin and Mina Kaye form the gorgeous, diverse cast of Edges. One quarter of The Sam Willows, Kheng’s rich and soothing vocals bring hope to the local talent pool. Furnell and Griffin oozed with chemistry and put the audience in stitches with the sexy performance of I Hmm You, a song about being afraid to say ‘I love you’. Be My Friend (or The Facebook Song), a crowd favourite, was particularly catchy. It reflects the dominance of social media in the lives of today’s youths with lyrics, “You need me to be your friend on the Facebook/If you refuse, I’ll forget that you exist/Help me feel alive/Be friend five hundred and five”.
The cast’s complementary vocals blended flawlessly and the amount of talent on stage was palpable. All four of the performers sang with impressive technicality and emotion but it was Kaye who stole the show. She belted the high notes with such effortless power, my hair stood up repeatedly throughout her performances. Her solo of In Short painted a shamelessly honest picture of the childish wrath we’ve all experienced, in a way that’s laughable.
Supporting Edges with the music is the one-man band, Joel Nah who doubles as the music director. Stationed at an obscure corner in the theatre, Nah deserves more recognition for his ability to provide live piano music that goes in perfect timing with prerecorded tracks lasting an hour and a half, without error. Despite being far from the spotlight, he plays one of the most important roles. Because what’s a musical without the music?
As a musical without a proper plot, it leaves the actors with little use of dialogue. If one does not know what a song cycle is, the jumping from one song to another without a narrative flow might confuse. Fortunately, that’s compensated for with catchy tunes, hilariously relatable lyrics and a talented cast. While the older folks may not be able to identify with the social media references, Edges is a largely accessible musical and every bit entertaining. Missing it would be a mistake.
Image Credit: Sightlines Productions