Hold your horses.
Before you rattle on with the expected “Is this just another of the 50,000 SG50 activities being shoved in my face?” question, let me tell you: this is NOT your typical, run of the mill SG50 gimmicks.
This production of The History of Singapore: Part 1 by the Dim Sum Dollies will school you on the unofficial history of Singapore, spanning more than 700 years. The revival of the wildly-popular 2007 production will leave you in stitches.
The entertainment value of this production is off-the-charts! To be honest, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen the Dim Sum Dollies (yes, I’m ashamed of myself too). After having heard rave reviews of the singing-dancing-acting trio, it was definitely a real treat to see them perform live!
Of course, no dim sum meal will be complete without a piping hot side serving Lor Mai Guys. Now, now, no fighting, there’s more than enough servings to go around.
As the title of the show suggests, it is littered with everything and everything Singapore. The Dollies were unabashed to take head-on controversial topics, ranging from the recent Amos Yee saga to our Sarong Party Girl culture, our men in white and our famous-LY staunch leader. Nothing was off limits – if you can think of it, the Dollies have it covered.
This is truly a production about Singapore for Singaporeans. Evidently, during the intermission, a famous Singapore personality was overheard commenting “I totally didn’t understand a single thing that went on.” Well, your loss, considering how the entire Esplanade theatre was left rolling on the floor throughout the entire 2-hour performance.
For our dear non-local friends, fret not, The History of Singapore Part 1 will bring you up to date with all your need to know about Singapore’s culture and slangs. If you don’t understand any bit of it, just ask your Singaporean friends after the show lah.
Stealing the Show
Right of the bat, the Dollies got the audience tickled silly – dressed up as mermaids, the trio narrated the story of how the island of Singapore was founded. The ridiculously hilarious storyline included visits from Napoleon, Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan ‘stumbling’ across our little island and deciding that it was too insignificant for them to even consider conquering.
As amazing as the Dollies are, someone else stole the night. Taking on different characters faster than I could count from 1 to 10, Hossan Leong effortlessly slipped into the different roles of Sang Nila to a disgraced Miss Singapore and even Gandhi. That, on top of the Chinese Mask-Changing-esque speed at which he changed costumes left the audience speechless.
His standout performance added much comedic value to the show and acted as a strong support to the production. Well, his only blemish came when he was attempting to belt out a tune in his falsetto range, aptly as Miss Singapore, translated to a hardly audible minute of singing.
Pinch of Salt
As much entertainment value the show and production possessed, unfortunately, there were more than a few misses. The entire night’s performance was much like a Cosine Graph. The opening act was definitely the strongest, but from there it seemed to take a nosedive. The following scenes struggled to live up to that standard.
There was this small segment that featured some of the different spices that Singapore had, and the cast was decked out in spice costumes – Star Anise, Chilli, Ginger, Pepper and Cinnamon. What came next wasn’t much of a surprise – a reference to the Spice Girls and a medley of Spice Girls’ hits, with a twist on the lyrics. It was, to me, rather cringe-worthy and could have been done without.
Thankfully, the pace and acts began gaining traction and The History of Singapore Part 1 managed to salvage itself by ending with a pitch perfect closing act.
In its entirety, the show could have definitely been might tighter and perhaps benefitted a couple more weeks of rehearsal. That aside, I did enjoy the choreography and albeit cheesy at times, it was well thought out and the Lor Mai Guys seemed to really enjoy the snazzy moves.
We managed to go behind the scenes and find out what it takes to be a Dim Sum Dollie. Check it out here!
Even with the ups and downs of the production, you will not want to miss this production of epic proportions!
The 2-hour “History of Singapore Part 1” runs from now till June 21 at the Esplanade Theatre. Tickets start from $48 and is now available on Sistic.
A quick PSA: you might want to get your tickets ASAP before they sell out! The Dollies’ performed to a sold-out crowd on their opening night, which just happened to be the night of the SEA Games opening ceremony. Yes, the Dollies are this fabulous and delicious.