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Les Misérables

For his birthday this year, I got the man (and I, heh heh) a pair of tickets to watch Les Misérables. Really, it stemmed from the fact that I had no idea what else to buy for him and I thought that a day at the theatre catching the holy grail of all musicals was just perfect.

You see, the two of us met through a love for singing. And we were lucky enough to sing together for seven years. We sang, and travelled the world, and won accolades and made some pretty beautiful memories together. And in our world of choristers, Les Miserables was like the ultimate goal.

We dreamt of putting up a production like this in Singapore. We would have loved to try. We thought of who amongst us could take on the roles of Valjean, Eponine etc. And we memorised the lyrics and sang together – at the pub after practice, at someone’s place, at the beach, outside the arcade.

I first watched the musical when I was 14. It was the first time the production was staged in Singapore and my mother had struck the lottery. So off we went! The seats were high up in the stalls but no matter, I remembered being so entranced by the singing, the backdrop, the plot. I cried when Eponine died.

In the interim, I fell in love with the 10th anniversary concert cast, the so-called dream cast. I mean, it WAS the dream cast. Colm Wilkinson, Ruthie Henshall, Lea Salonga, Michael Ball, Philip Quast – they were perfection! Just watch the video of Ruthie Henshall singing I dreamed a dream and you will understand. I still get goosebumps to this day.

So 20 years later, who better to watch this with again, other than my partner in life?

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Let me tell you, even as the prologue was playing, I had tears in my eyes. The iconic strains that rose up majestically in the air, whipped into life by an Adele lookalike (from the back) conductor (YAY LADY CONDUCTOR!). And the tears kept threatening to fall, scene after scene. It was all I could do to stop myself from bawling AND singing loudly along, as if it’s a luxe karaoke session.

It was such a dream come true. (Especially after that awful movie adaptation. What can I say, I am a purist.) ((Also, watch this. Just pure magic.)

I had gotten us really good tickets so we were close enough but not too close to the stage. And that gave us a fantastic view of every expression, every turn of the prop, every flicker of gunfire. My two years as a theatre student in JC – and a choir girl – certainly opened my eyes to the wondrous tricks and mechanisms behind the lighting and the props. That Javert death scene was so clever! And I can tell you that it sure as hell ain’t easy to sing and dance and act at the same time! Most people can barely handle one task, let alone excel in all three.

Kudos to the cast of this production – they were perfect for their roles. The actors playing Valjean and Javert stand out, as expected. Their exchanges, their duets were so utterly perfect while the singer portraying Eponine really reminded me of Lea Salonga.

The only quibble we had was with their singing: The actor portraying Enjolras, for instance, was constantly out of rhythm! And he had this annoying habit of sliding into his notes. My mind was screaming at him to hit his note cleanly. But that’s the choir girl in me protesting, heh.

As usual, Cosette irritated the shit out of me. I don’t have patience for whiny women looking doe-eyed and singing about a heart full of love. No, please, STFU. Just get to work, like Eponine, yah? And the man and I agree that Marius never impresses. NEVER. No matter who plays Marius, he always comes across as wussy and not able to hit the high notes well. Okay, maybe with the exception of Michael Ball. Hah – talk about bias!

All in all, I am so, so glad that I splurged on this experience. It was a beautiful afternoon spent away from the boys, away from the noise and grime. I immersed myself into the magical world of the theatre and it was worth every penny.

Of course, immediately after, I swapped my pretty red dress and Gucci slingbacks for Birkenstocks and shorts to pick up the boys. Ah, all in a day’s work.

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Imaginary Friends by Melanie Lee

I first heard about Melanie Lee‘s whimsical and sardonic e-book Imaginary Friends: 26 Fables for the Kid in Us a year ago. But I didn’t grab a copy then because, frankly speaking, I had neither the energy nor the time to read then.

The e-book has since then transformed into print and Melanie kindly offered me a complimentary copy – how could I say no? So during the weekend, when the little man was napping and the chores were done, I sat down for the first time in a long, long while and read the book.

As I plunged into the stories, I started smiling at first, and then laughed out loud. I love that the highly satirical stories were not explicitly funny, at least not in the crass HAHAHA sort of way. Rather, they were out of the world, ridiculously imaginative and exudes a sense of humour that is hilariously dry. I must admit, though, that there were a few tales that were lost on me and which ended oddly to me. But by and large, I enjoyed the stories very much and loved the truth and wit behind them.

I mean, you cannot disagree when the moral of the story is “in the hustle and bustle of life, we all could do with more sleep”, can you?

At the same time, the stories were superbly matched by the illustrations of Arif Rafhan, a Malaysian-based artist. He had taken the characters created by Mel and given them a visual identity that was so distinctive and, well, sort of mad. The characters have bulging eyes, thick lips and slightly bloated, misshapen bodies – not quite cute and yet oddly endearing. My favourite of the lot is Elly the Egotistical Eraser: what a badass she is!

I will definitely grab a few copies of Imaginary Friends as gifts to friends who may be in need of a good tale (or 26).

You can connect with Mel and Imaginary Friends on Facebook or grab your copy at Books Kinokuniya and MPH Bookstores for $10.80. You can also purchase it at BooksActually or from its online store.

Waste time chasing cars

I’ve only been in love with Snow Patrol since 2004. This was when “Run”, “How to be Dead” and “Chocolate” were played constantly on the airwaves of the radio station previously known as Virgin Radio. And I was in love, so much in love with Gary Lightbody’s voice.

I love them so much so that husband sang “Chasing Cars” to me on our wedding day.

And I love them so much so that I started spamming their website, leaving desperate comments for them to hold a concert in Singapore under different pseudonyms. Uh hmm. That was, obviously, before I found out about this thing called IP address.

So imagine my joy when I realised that they were FINALLY coming to Singapore. AYYYYYYYEEEE!

Mr Thick bought our tickets on the day they went on sale – fastest fingers first! – and I am so looking forward to hearing them perform “Chasing Cars” and “Chocolate” and “New York” and “Set Fire to the Third Bar” live. A tear or two might be shed. The voice will go hoarse from some screaming and loud singalong-ing. Fists will be a-pumpin’ the entire night. The legs will be bouncing up and down. Underpants might be thrown on stage.

Okay, maybe not the last part.

It will be a night to remember.

(PS Check out this version of the song. It’s majorly awesome on so many levels, especially from 3:55 on. I almost burst into tears when I first heard it and I wanted to marry Gary Lightbody then and there. With my husband sitting next to me on the sofa.)

Call me definitely

Oh cupcakes, you can call me ANYTIME!

(I know I ought to feel embarrassed about ENJOYING this video, what with me being a mom and all but OH WOW. I suppose the next logical thing to do is to order Fifty Shades of Grey?)

Time to go

This video may be two years old but it’s been making the rounds on my Facebook.

Last Minutes with ODEN from Eliot Rausch + Phos Pictures on Vimeo.

My cats are considered young – they are not yet three. But we know, deep within us, that there will come a time when they will go and that we will outlive their little lives.

It’s something I try not to think about too much but it’s there at the back of my mind.

I call them brats, yell at them when they are naughty and sigh at the expensive food that they eat. At the same time, I love them with all my heart and buy them the best food we can afford because I want them to live happy, healthy long lives with us.

They have been our babies long before the nugget came along.

Anyway. I sobbed my eyes out when watching the video. It’s beautifully shot and intimate.

Enjoy.

Eric Whitacre’s “Sleep”

Haven’t been updating much because there’s been so much happening in my life over the past week! There’s the Big News – the Twitterverse will know what I mean – and then we had the workers come in on Friday to put together our new-ish kitchen and living room. Loads of scrubbing and cleaning ensued.

And, not to forget, I also caught Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows not once but TWICE. And I loved every minute, so much so that I am dying to watch it a third time. But more on that later.

I’m pooped! (And not in the loo kinda way, if you know what I mean.)

But. I just want to share with you this beautiful, beautiful piece of music that I once had the immense pleasure of performing.

When we first got to know Eric Whitacre back in 2002, we knew he was some kind of superstar in the music world but we didn’t realise just exactly how famous he was. The songs that he composed were all amazing and so very different from the ones we were used to singing. They were poetic, beautifully discordant, angelic, vibrant, calm, lilting…everything a chorister could hope for in a song. And luckily for Chorale, he was in Singapore just to conduct us.

He came down for the practices and was charming, friendly and extremely funny. There were no airs, no diva behaviour, no tantrums and threats that we had grown used to with our conductor. His equally talented wife Hila was similarly warm and goofy.

That concert back in 2002 will always remain one of the highlights of my choral journey and this song will always be one of the best pieces that I have ever sung.

Harnessing the power of social media, he gathered almost 2,000 singers in 58 countries, had them sing and upload their parts (soprano, alto, tenor or bass) individually onto YouTube. The result: this wonderful virtual choir singing “Sleep”.

And here’s pictorial proof that we really, REALLY sang under his baton.

Eric Whitacre

Surely all memories should be made of stuff like that.

 

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