SINGAPORE – The year 2023 saw Singapore’s musical theatre scene roar back to life. And much of the resurgence can be credited to live entertainment company Base Entertainment Asia and its chief executive, Ms Chantal Prudhomme.
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and with a regional office in Singapore, Base is one of the Asia-Pacific’s leading live entertainment presenters.
In 2023, it presented three overseas touring musicals – Disney’s Frozen The Hit Broadway Musical, & Juliet and Mamma Mia! – which brought much glitz and excitement to the local theatre scene.
Ms Prudhomme, 58, who is French Canadian and based in Singapore, joined Base in 2011 as its head of operations. In 2015, she was promoted to the position of chief executive officer.
In all, she has worked on more than 100 productions that have played at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands.
“Our biggest achievement has been to get the business back to where it was pre-pandemic in 2019. It was not an easy task, as our industry was one of the most affected,” she says, giving credit to her team of about a dozen full-time staff, many of whom have worked with her for years.
“With perseverance, passion and dedication, we managed to get through the storm and come out the other side stronger than ever,” says Ms Prudhomme, who has worked at music television giant MTV, as well as in fields such as talent management and reality TV programme distribution.
Base, which has previously said it aimed to make Singapore the Broadway of Asia, scored box-office success with its musicals in 2023. The three productions were held at Sands Theatre, where Base has been the venue’s resident developer, producer, programmer and manager since 2010.
Base started the year with a bang when Frozen was performed from Feb 5 to March 19. Adapted from the Oscar-winning 2013 animated Disney film and original 1844 fairy tale The Snow Queen, the production’s only stop in South-east Asia was Singapore.
Before the pandemic, Base had successfully staged other Disney blockbuster musicals, such as The Lion King in 2011 and 2018, and Aladdin in 2019.
Another ground-breaking musical that it staged in 2023 was & Juliet, which ran from Sept 21 to Oct 15.
The 2019 Tony-nominated jukebox musical features a playlist of pop anthems from superstar songwriter-producer Max Martin, such as Since U Been Gone, Roar, Baby One More Time and Larger Than Life. The modern-day take on the classic Romeo And Juliet tale saw many repeat patrons during its Singapore run.
Base then quickly followed up with an evergreen favourite, Mamma Mia!, which played from Oct 19 to Nov 5. Based on the hits of Swedish pop icon Abba, the sales for the musical’s 2023 run were stronger than its previous runs here in 2014 and 2018.
Base is noted for bringing back classic titles for additional runs when it senses a demand for them.
The company is set to continue its string of musicals in 2024, with the delightful Matilda The Musical returning from March 9 to April 7. The production was first performed here in 2019 at the same venue.
Then there is Hamilton, the most anticipated musical of recent times, which is slated to make its Singapore debut from April 19.
Covering the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and his involvement in the American Revolution up to his death in 1804, Hamilton is among the few recent musicals to have received both critical and commercial success.
Its Singapore stop follows the musical’s staging in Manila from September to November 2023 and Abu Dhabi from January 2024.
Apart from musicals, Base also presented other live entertainment events in 2023, including three concerts by Singaporean singer Kit Chan; the international premiere of Shaun The Sheep’s Circus Show; performances by Australian escapologist and magician Cosentino; and the 10th anniversary production of Cuban dance sensation Ballet Revolucion.
Base also collaborated with other organisations to put on shows at the Sands Theatre.
For instance, it worked with local event management company Ra Ra Productions to present and produce Kumar Guilty from July 6 to 23, which showcased Singaporean drag queen and stand-up comedian Kumar.
Base also collaborated with home-grown company Dream Nation to present Taiwanese singer Ricky Hsiao’s Seat For Love Live In Singapore concert on Aug 19.
Base is now presenting the Immersive Disney Animation exhibition in collaboration with Walt Disney Animation Studios. This exhibition at Sands Theatre takes visitors on a magical journey through 100 years of Disney’s animated classics, such as Beauty And The Beast (1991), Mulan (1998) and Brother Bear (2003), and includes a 3.6m-tall Mickey Mouse figure which guests can take photos with.
Ms Prudhomme is looking forward to bringing more productions to Singapore in 2024, saying: “We are very excited about what is to come. Stay tuned and watch this space.”