The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards 2020

Urinetown: The Musical leads with seven Life Theatre Awards nominations

Singaporean theatre company Pangdemonium's satirical comedy Urinetown: The Musical leads the pack with seven nominations at this year's awards

After a jam-packed year of theatre - from side-splitting comedies to serious, thought-provoking works; shows filled with dazzling musical numbers to simple, heartfelt monologues - the nominations for The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards 2020 are in.

A total of 27 productions staged last year have received nods across 12 categories - ranging from directing and acting awards to those related to technical aspects such as lighting, set and costumes.

Leading the pack is Urinetown: The Musical, a satirical comedy which poked fun at topics such as populism, corporate corruption as well as musicals themselves.

Presented by Singaporean theatre company Pangdemonium, the show has been nominated in seven categories - Best Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Set, Lighting, Ensemble as well as the top honour Production Of The Year.

The production's director Tracie Pang says: "I am very proud of the nominations. Urinetown was a show people thought was un-produceable - it had an unsellable title, a herculean storyline, massive song and dance numbers that people said our Singapore talents could not pull off - and I think we showed that we do indeed have the talent and the ability to do that and more."

On two of the show's performers - Benjamin Chow and Sean Ghazi - receiving acting nods, she says: "Ben and Sean brought everything to the table, they put their complete trust in me to find the balance of honesty and humour I was looking for."

Other notable productions, with four nominations each, were pantomime Peter Pan In Serangoon Gardens by Wild Rice; Malay drama Angkat: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative Of A Native by the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019; and Mandarin play First Fleet by Nine Years Theatre and the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC).

Both Angkat, which is about the relationship between a woman and her adopted child, and First Fleet, which centres on the transportation of a group of convicts to Australia, were nominated in three major categories - Production Of The Year, Best Director and Best Original Script.

First Fleet will be restaged at SCCC's Far East Organization Auditorium from Feb 14 to 23 this year.

Its playwright-director Nelson Chia, 48, says: "I am very honoured by the recognition and very glad that Nine Years Theatre continues to make work that people like to see.

"In First Fleet - like in much of our work - we tried to show the importance of listening to other people's stories as we believe this is a practice in empathy."

The Straits Times' Life section has organised the Life Theatre Awards since 2001 to celebrate the best of Singapore theatre in the previous year.

The judging panel for this year's edition of the awards consists of deputy Life editor Melissa Sim, senior culture correspondent Ong Sor Fern, arts correspondent Olivia Ho, lifestyle correspondent Benson Ang and journalists Toh Wen Li and Akshita Nanda.

The winners of the Life Theatre Awards 2020 will be announced at the end of this month.


The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards 2020: Nominees

Production Of The Year

• Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• First Fleet (Nine Years Theatre and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre)

• Four Four Eight (above, Emergency Stairs and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)

• A Dream Under The Southern Bough: Reverie (Toy Factory Productions and Singapore International Festival of Arts)

• Angkat: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative Of A Native (M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019)

Best Actress

• Jo Tan for Forked (The Finger Players)

• Oon Shu An for Mergers And Accusations (Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)

• Audrey Luo for Lim Boon Keng – The Musical (Musical Theatre Limited and Global Crypto Offering Exchange)

• Sharul Channa (above) for Crazy Poor Sita (Sharul Channa)

Best Actor

• Oliver Chong for A Fiend’s Diary (The Finger Players)

• Benjamin Chow for Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• Ivan Heng for Emily Of Emerald Hill (above, Wild Rice)

• Shane Mardjuki for Mergers And Accusations (Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)

• Lim Yu-Beng for The Truth (Singapore Repertory Theatre

Best Original Script

• Nelson Chia for First Fleet (Nine Years Theatre and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre)

• Ng Yi-Sheng for Ayer Hitam: A Black History Of Singapore (M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019)

• Nabilah Said for Angkat: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative Of A Native (above, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019)

• Liu Xiaoyi for Four Four Eight (Emergency Stairs and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)

Best Supporting Actress

• Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai (top left) for Three Fat Virgins Unassembled (TheatreWorks)

• Serene Chen for Caught (Singapore Repertory Theatre)

• Neo Swee Lin for The Truth (Singapore Repertory Theatre)

Best Supporting Actor

• Andrew Marko for Peter Pan In Serangoon Gardens (Wild Rice)

• Sean Ghazi for Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• Adib Kosnan for Angkat: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative Of A Native (M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019)

• Yong Ser Pin (above left) for It Could Have Been____! (Singapore Press Holdings Chinese Media Group)

Best Director

• Goh Boon Teck for A Dream Under The Southern Bough: Reverie (above, Toy Factory Productions and Singapore International Festival of Arts)

• Tracie Pang for Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• Nelson Chia for First Fleet (Nine Years Theatre and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre)

• Noor Effendy Ibrahim for Angkat: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative Of A Native (M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019)

Best Costume

• Loo An Ni for First Fleet (above, Nine Years Theatre and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre)

• Tube Gallery by Phisit & Saksit for Peter Pan In Serangoon Gardens (Wild Rice)

• Max Tan and Yuan Zhiying of Max.Tan for Civilised (The Necessary Stage)

• Moe Kasim for Lim Boon Keng – The Musical (Musical Theatre Limited and Global Crypto Offering Exchange)

Best Lighting

• Lim Woan Wen for Forked (The Finger Players)

• James Tan for Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• Faith Liu Yong Huay for Dear Elena (above, Nine Years Theatre)

• Adrian Tan for Faust/Us (Nine Years Theatre)

Best Set

• Eucien Chia for Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• John C. Dinning for Peter Pan In Serangoon Gardens (above, Wild Rice)

• Oliver Chong for A Fiend’s Diary (The Finger Players)

• Petrina Dawn Tan for The Truth (Singapore Repertory Theatre)

• Lim Chin Huat for Not In My Lifetime? (The Finger Players and Gateway Academy)

Best Sound

• Bani Haykal for Tanah.Air: A Play In Two Parts (Drama Box)

• Sandra Tay for Project Utopia (above, The Theatre Practice)

• Zai Tang for Faust/Us (Nine Years Theatre)

• Inch Chua, Uthaiyan Kumanan and Evan Low for ’Til The End Of The World, We’ll Meet In No Man’s Land (TheatreWorks)

Best Ensemble

• Urinetown: The Musical (Pangdemonium)

• Eat Duck (Checkpoint Theatre)

• A Spoonful Of Sherman (above, Sing’theatre)

• Peter Pan In Serangoon Gardens (Wild Rice)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2020, with the headline 'More than a wee nod for musical'. Print Edition | Subscribe