First off, we are not really fans of musical theatre – we could not even get past the first scene of the much vaunted La La Land. But we know entertainment when we see it and if nothing else, Dream Academy’s Detention Katong is definitely good fun.
The musical’s key strengths are its funny skits and solid performances. The story itself is deeply flawed and lacks the drama and tension to keep itself relevant.
But thankfully, there’s enough humour and wacky sequences to put that troublesome issue easily aside.
The school girls – especially the “mean” girls, discipline mistress Miss Ng (Neo Swee Lin), student counsellor Mr Saw (Sebastian Tan), Mr Ghazali (Suhaimi Yusof) & Amanda Chin’s zany mother (Serene Chen) put in a proper shift to keep things interesting throughout.
The music and dance sequences are competently designed and delivered though somewhat schizophrenic in parts, though to be fair that’s a product of trying to deliver different moods and tones to match the narrative and plot points.
There are genuine laugh out loud moments that will stick in the memory – most significantly when Neo and Tan deftly take on diverse roles during the Parents-Teachers Conference. And while Yusof begins somewhat stereotypically and trite, his performance grew on the audience as time went on and by the end he was a definite crowd favourite.
Of course, being a Singaporean musical, hilarity ensued whenever local references were made – for example, early on, at the expense of the MRT. Other popular targets include the nature of school discipline itself, the lengths parents go to get their children into prestigious schools and the conflict between a school’s performance and student’s well being.
For a relative newcomer, singer-songwriter iNCH excelled in her role as the tomboy Serene, nailing all her parts with some aplomb. The same cannot be said for Valerie Choo as the nominal lead Amanda Chin, though it’s unclear whether that was due to the rather weak characterisation and illogical development, rather than a flawed performance.
In the final analysis, Detention Katong is a musical to catch – a solid 2 hours where you can laugh to your heart’s content and simply enjoy the presentation.
Tickets now available at SISTIC.
… still there’s more …