Hansel and Gretel is Proof that the Singapore Theatre Scene Kicks Ass

Yet another brilliant production by W!LD RICE, Hansel and Gretel is a witty Singaporean-style remake of the wickedest German story I remember reading as a child. A definite must-watch! Showing at the NLB Drama Centre Theatre till 15th December 2012.

Here’s an idea for a Christmas treat for those who’ve got a friend who already owns all the material possessions a human being could possibly want. Or a friend who thinks the Singapore theatre scene sucks balls. Though seriously, you shouldn’t even be friends with such a person to begin with.

Hansel and Gretel is 135 minutes of candy-catching, ballistic fun, outrageous humour, and brutally sharp-witted parodies to several of Singapore’s most scandalous current affairs (think Sun Ho and Amy Cheong), and for the littles ones and some family fun– catchy tunes and awesome sets and costumes, and plenty of heartwarming moments that will have you going awww. And this musical is the first that I’ve been to in my life which promises a multi-sensorial experience. *SPOILER ALERT* If you pick up a strong vanilla scent in the middle of the show, don’t worry it’s not someone’s spilled perfume.

So the Singaporean version of this slightly disturbing classic goes like this: Hansel (Dwayne Tan) and Gretel (Denise Tan), two nonidentical twin siblings with German names live simply and happily with their daddy dearest (Dwayne Lau) in an HDB apartment at Queenstown. Their harmonious family life is disrupted when daddy dearest invites a wanna-be-singer and youtube sensation (read:joke) by the name of Cassandra, with whom he is in lust with, to come and live with them. Cassandra, played brilliantly by Vernetta Lopez, brings along a Filipina domestic helper called Vilma, who proved to be such an endearing character that added a certain Singaporean quality to the storyline that I didn’t even mind that the role was totally redundant. With passionate hatred for chill-rrrrrrrrrrren, and determination to make room in her new home for a walk-in closet, Cassandra wastes no time in getting rid of ‘Pencil’ and ‘Kettle’. Twice, they are abandoned in the Mandai forest. The first time they find their way home thanks to Hansel’s five-stones, after a hilarious encounter with some NS soldiers who have also lost their way. The second time they stumble upon a house in the forest, made of -get this- cookies and kueh lapis and pandan cakes. REAL cookies and kueh lapis and pandan cakes that Hansel and Gretel generously share with the audience. Enter the creator of these treats– the Chef, played impeccably by Sebastian Tan (recall Broadway Beng) who starts behaving really strangely upon learning Hansel’s name. Oh, the fun has only just begun.

What ensues will have anyone bowling over with hysterical laughter. Siti Khalijah, who played Vilma earlier, now plays the Chef’s not-actually-evil assistant called Nicki Minah. Her stellar performance really hurt my abs siol. But what I loved most about this play was that on top of all the frivolous light-hearted fun, there was also well-balanced and thoughtful development of the main characters with such themes as sibling love, the coming-of-age realization that parents too can make mistakes, and, in light of the festive season, forgiveness. And so it is that daddy dearest forgives Cassandra for being such a stuck-up, materialistic, child-hating gold-digger; the kids forgive daddy dearest and the step-monster; and everybody forgives the Chef for making Hansel obese because she had *SPOILER ALERT* misread her secret recipe due to poor eyesight, so that for years she searched for the ingredient: “70kg of Hansel”. As if the extremely happy ending wasn’t enough to round up the night, the cast leads the audience after the credits in singing “C is for Christmas”.

Okay, now do yourselves a favour and catch Hansel and Gretel on their last day! Showtimes are 2:30pm and 7:30pm.
Get your tickets from here

Tickets priced at:
Standard – S$69, S$59, S$49
Restricted View – S$54

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