SINGAPORE – There has been a post-pandemic blitz of internationally renowned musicals coming to Singapore, such as Disney’s Frozen The Hit Broadway Musical earlier in 2023 and & Juliet in September. Home-grown theatre companies have also put on Cabaret and Into The Woods.
The boom looks set to continue in 2024, with four big titles already confirmed.
Here is what musical lovers can expect from Hamilton, Matilda The Musical, Dear Evan Hansen and Little Shop Of Horrors.
If you want to be in the room where it happens, you cannot miss Hamilton, which makes its Singapore debut in April.
The sung-and-rapped-through biographical musical, which covers the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and his involvement in the American Revolution up to his death in 1804, is ground-breaking in terms of its score, which draws heavily from hip-hop, jazz and R&B, together with traditional show tunes.
The pop culture phenomenon was created by and starred award-winning American songwriter-actor Lin-Manuel Miranda. He also appeared in the musical fantasy film Mary Poppins Returns (2018), directed the musical film Tick, Tick... Boom! (2021) and composed the soundtracks for the hit animated films Moana (2016), Vivo (2021) and Encanto (2021).
Hamilton is among the very few musicals which have received both critical and commercial success in recent years.
It premiered in 2015 off-Broadway.
At the 2016 Tony Awards, it won in 11 categories, including for Best Musical, cementing its status as the second-most-decorated musical for a single production in Tony history, just behind The Producers’ 12 awards in 2001.
It also clinched a Grammy Award and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In 2017, it started its first North American tour and made its West End debut.
For its Broadway run, the show starred American actor Jonathan Groff (Frozen, 2013; Mindhunter, 2017 to 2019) as King George III, who performed the iconic number You’ll Be Back, expressing his belief that the American colonists will one day crawl back to the British empire when their rebellion has been quashed.
The role was played by actor Brent Hill in the musical’s Australian tour, which ran from 2021 to April 2023.
Hamilton’s off-Broadway production had Miranda play the title role, and many other actors have taken on the character since, such as American actor Michael Luwoye, the first black actor to do so.
Australian actor Jason Arrow played the role in the musical’s Australian tour.
Meanwhile, American actor Anthony Ramos (Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts, 2023; Dumb Money, 2023) originated the dual roles of statesman John Laurens and Hamilton’s eldest child Philip.
In 2016, then-United States President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle hosted local students and the original Broadway cast of Hamilton at the White House, where the cast performed the songs Alexander Hamilton and The Schuyler Sisters.
Singapore permanent resident Mindy Kon watched the musical in Melbourne in December 2022, and plans to watch again with her husband when it comes to Singapore.
The 30-year-old teacher, who has signed up to be on the wait-list to buy tickets, has also seen a filmed version of the Broadway musical at least eight times on streaming service Disney+.
She says: “I bought an A$225 (S$196) ticket in Melbourne, which was more than what I would normally spend on musical theatre. But I felt it was worth it for a show I would not soon forget. Hamilton is one of the best I have ever seen.”
Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
When: From April 19
Info: Go to baseasia.com/HamiltonSG to sign up for the wait-list to be among the first in line for tickets
Matilda The Musical
When March rolls around, musical fans will be reminded that, sometimes, you have to be a little bit naughty.
The iconic British musical is based on the 1988 novel of the same name by British author Roald Dahl, and centres on a young girl with a vivid imagination.
With a book written by British writer-producer Dennis Kelly, and music and lyrics by Australian actor-songwriter Tim Minchin, this production was first staged in English town Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010, with three young actresses alternating in the title role.
In 2011, it debuted at West End, and clinched seven Olivier Awards the following year, including for Best New Musical. The show then made its way to Broadway in 2013, where it won four Tonys, including Best Book of a Musical.
Among its most well-known songs is the wistful, soul-stirring When I Grow Up, during which Matilda’s schoolmates ride on swings and sing about their aspirations.
In 2022, a musical fantasy-comedy film based on the stage musical, also titled Matilda The Musical, was released on Netflix. It starred Emma Thompson and Stephen Graham.
One notable character from the novel is the fearsome Miss Trunchbull, who is traditionally portrayed by male actors for comical effect in the stage musicals.
London-based actor-singer James Wolstenholme is set to play the part in Singapore, with Yolani Balfour, Donna Craig and Myla Williams as Matilda.
Family entertainment resonates with Singapore audiences, says Ms Chantal Prudhomme, Base Entertainment Asia’s chief executive.
“Matilda The Musical was well received in 2019, and we have no doubt it will be as successful in 2024. There will always be a demand for classic titles, which is why you will see Base bring back some shows for second and third runs.”
Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
When: March 9 to 31, Tuesdays to Fridays, 8pm; Saturdays, 2 and 8pm; Sundays, 1 and 6.30pm
Admission: $68 to $248 via Marina Bay Sands’ website (str.sg/iGVB) or Sistic (go to sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)
Dear Evan Hansen
In October 2024, local theatre company Pangdemonium will stage the Asian premiere of this powerful and poignant musical. It tells the story of 17-year-old Evan Hansen, whose life is filled with stress, anxiety and loneliness.
Life with his single mother is miserable, he has been nursing a secret love for an unattainable girl, and his school life is a freak show, until a strange encounter with another misfit leads to an out-of-control sequence of events that transforms life for Evan and everyone else.
After premiering in Washington, DC in 2015, the production was performed both off and on Broadway in 2016, and won six Tony Awards a year later, including for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.
It features a book by American playwright and television writer Steven Levenson, with music and lyrics by award-winning American songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, 2016; The Greatest Showman, 2017).
The Broadway production also starred American actor Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect, 2012; The Politician, 2019 to present) as Evan Hansen.
Among its most famous numbers is the hopeful anthem You Will Be Found, which has been covered by English singer Sam Smith, American singer Summer Walker, Australian actor Hugh Jackman and local singer Aisyah Aziz during the National Day Parade in 2022.
Pangdemonium’s co-artistic director Tracie Pang says the company was aware of Dear Evan Hansen even before it hit Broadway, and has been chasing its rights for about seven years.
Pangdemonium is also the first company in the world to secure its non-replica rights, she added.
“Dear Evan Hansen is a truly modern musical. It is a deeply personal and contemporary story about life today, and has struck a chord with audiences young and not-so-young.
“We fell in love with the songs and the story, and believe it is a quintessentially Pangdemonium show. We are super excited to stage it and put our stamp on it.”
Where: Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place
When: Oct 11 to Nov 3, 2024
Info: Tickets to Dear Evan Hansen can be obtained through a Pangdemonium 2024 season ticket, an exclusive subscription package that gives guests admission to all three of the company’s mainstage productions from its 2024 season, including the plays Falling and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. A season ticket costs $175 to $240, and can be purchased via Sistic (go to sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555).
Little Shop Of Horrors
Musical theatre academy and production company Sing’theatre will be staging this beloved horror-comedy rock musical from April 17 to 28 at the School of the Arts Singapore Drama Theatre.
Helmed by T.J. Taylor with musical direction from Elaine Chan, it features a cast of local theatre performers such as Andrew Marko, Vanessa Kee, Dwayne Lau, Benjamin Koh, Andrea Joy, Nurulhuda Hassan, Marissa Vojodi and Tony Tong.
Its plot follows a hapless florist shop worker who raises a flesh-eating plant that hungers for blood. It has a book written by the late American playwright Howard Ashman, with music by American composer Alan Menken in the style of early 1960s rock ’n’ roll, doo-wop and early Motown.
Among its well-known numbers is the spirited Suddenly, Seymour, when two of the main characters reveal their feelings for each other, and Feed Me (Git It), famously sung by the hungry plant.
First opened off-Broadway in 1982, Little Shop Of Horrors was previously performed in Singapore in 1995 and 2006. Ticketing details for the upcoming production will be released soon.