For a long long time when I was in school, being part of the choir was a large part of my life. So much so that I chose a junior college specifically for the quality of its choir. It meant waking up at the crack of dawn to make the long trek to the east side of Singapore. My poor mom did the same, to send me to the bus stop that had a direct bus to school and eventually sending me all the way to the school gates later on in my 2nd year. Thankfully it was not too bad a JC, in fact it was no.1 on the rankings at some point in time, so I guess my parents didn’t mind. Unfortunately, I never had good results while in JC, not that my parents really pressured me to do anyway. For that, I am really grateful for their parenting style.
My choir days were the best memories of my schooling life. And I made the best friends who till today are still very close to my heart. The camaraderie that we built practicing hours upon hours for performances and competitions really made us very tight as a group. Performing groups also get the best deal among all other ECA groups you know? We get to travel for performances and to far off lands no less. We always remember fondly our US trip – of flooded toilets, spooky rooms and a noisy amorous couple in the next door hotel room.
Even after graduation, I continued singing for a year or 2 with the alumni group. One of the more memorable performances we did was the operetta “The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s a comedy musical performance about a guy who was accidentally apprenticed to a bunch of pirates when he was young boy instead of to a pilot as per his parents’ wishes. He also falls in love with a Major General’s daughter who has a bunch of giggly and bimbo sisters. Yes, I played one of the bimbo sisters. lol 😀
Watched a very modern adaptation of the operetta at Northwestern last Saturday. Northwestern has a wonderful theatre program that routinely churns out really awesome performances and at really affordable prices! We only paid $10 per ticket. And the productions are not mediocre at all, very professional. I truly believe many of the students we see performing today will one day make it to become leads in Broadway, as have many in previous years.
Was filled with a sense of nostalgia watching the production and amazingly realized that I had forgotten a lot of the plot already, much less the lyrics of the songs. Utterly impressed with the staging and clever use of space as the theatre was quite tiny. The costumes were simple but yet had elements reflective of the victorian times that the story is set in. Reminded me so much of the grief I experienced hunting for costumes on a super tight budget when I was assistant wardrobe mistress during my time. We should have just made it more interpretive rather than making it too exacting. It’s a comedy after all, so some fun and surprising elements make it more interesting.
I also liked that some of the roles were switched up. Like how they replaced a middle aged woman character (Ruth) with a guy in drag, super funny. The bumbling policemen in the original were also switched to a girl scout troop, who IMHO sang the best among the ensemble. Another clear difference between the production I was in and this one was the level of talent in acting. We were obviously more comfortable as singers but the NU cast had both the acting chops and voices. They also had better direction and choreography, while we obviously were a bit more amateurish doing what we used to joke among ourselves as 骗钱 (literally cheat money) choreography as dreamt up by our choir conductor in the past. But you know, we did it for fun while these guys are working towards doing it as a living some day! Nevertheless, am sure anyone who loves performing will agree that it is always always a fun and satisfying journey.
Photos credited to Northwestern School of Communications and Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Centre