Monday, 18 June 2007

Song of Singapore - Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Song of Singapore by Allan Katz, Erick Frandsen, Michael Garin, Robert Hipkens and Paula Lockheart
The Octagon Theatre, Bolton: Thurs 14 June - Sat 7 July 07
Directed by: Mark Babych
Musical Director: Howard Gray
Reviewed by: Stephanie Rowe - Nanny

I went along to watch this performance not really knowing what to expect, I was told it was a musical set in a bar in 1941 Singapore and was expecting something along the lines of Miss Saigon.

Upon entering the theatre I saw the stage was set for a type of Cabaret evening with a bar set up in the corner, It was a very average type bar with a swing band fronted by Rose of Rangoon, a very forgetful thou mysterious femme fatale. Things liven up when a customer is killed under suspicious circumstances and the police chief is more interested in what he was carrying than who murdered him and why.

Before the show started the cast came out early and started to put the audience at ease and in the mood by playing Jazz before the show began.

The show turned out to be excellent and nothing like I had imagined, it was a comedy with each character telling their story through the songs, in the style of Jazz and the Blues, I have to admit, even though I am not particularly a fan of this genre of music, I found myself tapping my foot and singing along to the reprises..

The set and costumes by Richard Foxton were very in keeping with the times and were simple yet effective. The lighting was superb, but the sound quality did vary during the performance and at times when Rose was singing, you had to strain to hear her voice over the other cast members.

Each cast member of the company also played a musical instrument, a form which is becoming more and more popular in Rep theatre nowadays, and it was good to see Musical Director Howard Gray also treading the boards as Freddie S.Lyme, Other stand out performances came from Andrew Schofield (Spike Spauldeen), Nick Lashbrook (Hans van der last) and Christopher Fry (Bones / Mysterious Man) each playing their various characters with a panache that is sometimes missing in a stage performance. A disappointing performance from Matt Devereaux who played three parts, and managed to make them seem like they were all one and the same. Ruth Alexander-Rubin carried the role of Rose exceptionally well even with the twists that take place to her character throughout the show.

Chah-Li played by Emily Grace was very overpowering with her presence and even when seated at the bar to the side of the stage managed to draw your attention to her instead of what was happening on stage. She has a great talent and working with this cast she will hone her skills well which at the age 19 will set her up for a great career.

It would have been nice to have seen Tayo Akinbode and Francis Tucker take more of a part in the show instead of just playing in the background.
The director Mark Babych and musical director Howard Gray leaving the negatives aside have created a show that leaves you feeling light hearted, relaxed with the feeling that you have defiantly had a fabulous and exotic night out.

Song of Singapore runs at The Octagon Theatre, Bolton until the 7th July for more information please visit
Photos by Ian Tilton: Top - Ruth Alexander Rubin (Rose), Andrew Schofield (Spike), Emily Grace (Chah-Li)
Bottom - Nick Lashbrook (Hans), Matt Devereaux (Kurland), Ruth Alexander Rubin (Rose)
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