Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts and Cultural Troupe turns 30

Ng Aik Song in What's Your Move.
Ng Aik Song in What's Your Move. PHOTO: SINGAPORE HOKKIEN HUAY KUAN ARTS & CULTURAL TROUPE

Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts and Cultural Troupe marks its 30th anniversary with a dance musical

For its 30th anniversary, the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts and Cultural Troupe is celebrating by going young: putting on a dance musical about an aspiring dancer who goes against his family's wishes to pursue his dreams.

Titled What's Your Move and on till tomorrow at Victoria Theatre, the production revolves around a tiger mum and her son in secondary school who wants to be a dancer.

The show's cast of 35 draws on young talent from the troupe. It was written by three members: Lin Wen Bin, 35, Liew Li Ting, 32, Gerald Ng, 28.

Director Ong Siew Keok, 52, the troupe's drama instructor, says: "It is the first time we are staging a musical involving so many of our youth members in their late 20s and even early 30s, who have been with the troupe since they were children.

"Most of our shows were mostly performed by our children members. In a way, the show this time also showcases our growth over the past three decades."

  • BOOK IT / WHAT'S YOUR MOVE

  • WHERE: Victoria Theatre, Empress Place

    WHEN: Today, 2.30 and 8pm, tomorrow, 2.30pm

    ADMISSION: $28, $38 and $48 (excludes Sistic fees) from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

It is performed to original music by the troupe's artistic director Wee Shoo Peng, 60.

The arts and cultural troupe was started by the Hokkien Huay Kuan 30 years ago to promote Chinese language and culture among the young in Singapore.

First, it held weekly speech and drama classes for primary school pupils at the clan association's old premises in Telok Ayer Street and received an overwhelming response.

The troupe's executive director and co-founder Wong Sau Leng, 59, recalls: "We had wanted to start a class for only 30, but received more than 200 applications. In the end, we opened three classes for 99 pupils."

From teaching speech and drama, more classes were added, including song and dance, Chinese language and essay writing.

Now, the troupe has more than 2,000 primary, secondary and junior college students attending its classes at its premises in Toa Payoh, the Huay Kuan's cultural academy in Sennett Road and some local schools. It also stages regular performances.

The lead actors in What's Your Move are long-time students of the troupe. Ng Aik Song, 25, who plays teenager Mark, started attending speech and drama classes by the troupe when he was six and had performed in several shows it staged.

He is an English and biology teacher in a secondary school. He says that the storyline in What's Your Move echoed a lot of his personal experiences.

"I had wanted to be a dancer too when I was in school but, in the end, I am happy I can still perform as a hobby with the troupe," says Ng, who sings and dances in the show.

The tiger mum, Mary, is played by another youth member, Clara Tan, 30, a marketing manager at Google who also attended the troupe's speech and drama classes when she was six.

On her role, she says: "I am single and not a mum yet. The role has given me the opportunity to understand the concerns of a mother."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Thirty years young'. Print Edition | Subscribe