Arts Picks: Retro radio, Dream Academy's 50 Days Of Laughter, Wild@Home and more



If you are looking for a soundtrack for this #workfromhome period, try this retro radio livestream. The channel brings together a marvellous collection of jazzy kerongcong and joget tunes from the 1950s and 1960s.

There are the usual suspects - perennial favourites by legendary entertainer P. Ramlee pop up - and some interesting forgotten gems, such as Malaysia's Eurasian band The Trez Amigos, a household name in the 1950s which recorded hit tunes in Malay, English and Portuguese.

The soundscape is astoundingly cosmopolitan, a reminder of a past when South-east Asian nations looked to their neighbours and beyond for pop cultural inspiration.

Saloma's Sayang Sayang, for example, is instantly recognisable to many as a Malay version of the popular Chinese tune, Xiang Si He Pan (Longing Along The Riverbank), covered by everyone from local veteran singer S. K. Poon to Taiwanese songstress Feng Fei Fei. The Chinese song was in turn based on a Thai tune.

The channel's curator, a Kuala Lumpur-based marketing professional and vinyl enthusiast who prefers to remain anonymous, started this as a fan tribute. He says: "I wish nothing more but to continuously share the love for classic Malay songs and spread good vibes to all the listeners, like the name of this channel itself, Rasa Sayang (literally "sense of love")."

The only drawback of this channel is that it throws up so many earworms that you might get drawn down a rabbit hole hunting for the singers and their other hits.



Dream Academy is the perfect funny antidote to these solemn times. The home of hit comedy shows Dim Sum Dollies, Broadway Beng and Kumar is not streaming entire shows, but it is doing something almost as good.

Every day for 50 days, it is posting routines from its archival recordings on its Facebook page and Youtube channel. The series kicked off on March 30 with the Parking Pontianak sketch from Dim Sum Dollies.

The theatre group has a nice rhythm going, with themed weekdays - Dollies on Mondays, Broadway Beng on Tuesdays and Kumar on Wednesdays. Thursdays are devoted to Dream Academy founder Selena Tan's comic cookouts and Fridays offer segments from Happy Ever Laughter.

Great for a daily dose of the giggles.


INFO: Dream Academy Facebook page and YouTube channel


The National Museum of Singapore commemorated the bicentennial last year with this thoughtful show, which closed last month (March). The exhibition looked at the intense, and violent, competition between the Dutch and English East India companies, which shaped the colonisation of South-east Asia in the 200 years before Singapore's founding in 1819.

If you missed the show, the entire exhibition is now online in this rather impressive multimedia gallery. Even if you did managed to visit the museum, it is worth taking a tour of this virtual recreation, which offers quite a lot of value-added bits and pieces.

In addition to 360-degree views of the galleries, what is most engaging are the voiceovers from curator Daniel Tham, in the Knowledge & Power section, which is equivalent to getting a personal curator's tour of the show. A minor quibble here is that while his narratives are informative and engaging, the sound effects in the background is unnecessarily distracting.

Mr Iskander Mydin, curatorial fellow at the museum, offers an alternative narrative track focusing on the indigenous point of view, covering artefacts from local fishing vessels to native weaponry such as the blowpipe.

Best viewed on a laptop, this is a good demonstration of how a museum show can be transplanted into the digital realm.


INFO: An Old New World show


Wild Rice is the latest theatre group to share its productions online for free. The series kicks off today (April 24) with Emily Of Emerald Hill, with Ivan Heng playing the titular Peranakan matriarch in Stella Kon's classic play.

Over the next two weeks, theatre buffs can catch Thomas Lim's superb family drama Supervision and one of Wild Rice's entertaining pantomimes, Monkey Goes West. Each play will be available for a week on the company's YouTube channel (

The company is also organising Live Talkback sessions on Thursdays with the artists involved in each show via its Facebook page and YouTube channel. There are also education packs for viewers who want to learn more, with interviews and suggested activities for students online.


INFO: Wild Rice website

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