When I flipped to the middle of the programme, I knew that Dream Academy’s Crazy Christmas – A Little Bit of Naughty and A Whole Lot of Nice was not for kids. It came with a complimentary condom from sponsor Okamoto, in line with its publicity for World Aids Day.
With that, the R(18) music mayhem of the annual revue ensued. Kudos to Director and Writer Selena Tan, the rest of the cast and the production team, for giving the audience a treat for their ears and eyes. All this despite the last-minute pullout from Dim Sum Dolly Emma Yong due to ill health, and tragedy from the passing away of close friend R J Rosales earlier this month.
The show did go on.
The cast pulled out their stops to make us laugh, from friendly digs at the powers-that-be (“3 out of 5 stars, a landslide victory!“), to weaving in local references in song (“we have no eggnog, only durian log cake“), the audience was entertained, though not always wow-ed by some of the bland original songs on the show.
Kumar and his risque comedic section did a humorous take on anonymous AIDS testing and AIDS awareness. Appearing onstage after a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born this way”, he quipped, “I was also born this way… but without the dress lah.“
The set (Priscil Poh) and lighting (Yo Shao Ann) designers created a spectacle of razzle-dazzle throughout the various scene changes, from star-shaped chair lifts for the Dollies in the opening number, to the cheeky (and beach-y) tropical Christmas. The music directors (Elaine Chan, Joel Nah) and sound designer (Shah Tahir), along with the 10-piece swing band, made the best out of this home-made music extravaganza.
Co-Director George Chan, Robin Goh, Sebastian Tan, Pam Oei, Selena Tan, Denise Tan shone when they sang together belting out modern arrangements of classics rather than when they sang their individual solos. Their mash-up of various Christmas carols including “Carol of the Bells”, “Christmas is coming”, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, boasted of perfect harmony, wit, and great comic timing. Denise Tan as the replacement Dolly put up a very credible performance.
On that note, a special mention to a capella group Vocaluptuous and John Lee. Vocaluptuous’ rendition of “I’ll be home for Christmas”, with their velvety-smooth vocals, swept the audience away and spread some Christmas magic. Little surprise that their a capella arrangements were done by the talented and often underrated John Lee, who held his own in an original solo by the Lee brothers, “I’ll be there”.
The crowd favourite of the night was certainly Sebastian Tan’s Hokkien Santa (“Ho-ho-hoSay!”) which had the audience in peals of laughter with his vulgarity-spewing, coffee-shop frequenting, Sinalco-chimney climbing interpretation of a pink Singaporean Santa with no beard.
The crazy atmosphere dimmed when the ensemble wished that Emma Yong would get better soon, and paid tribute to R J Rosales in song. They sang a Tagalog song that Rosales had performed in the 2010 Crazy Christmas, each member clearly brimming with emotion.
I would give Crazy Christmas a thumbs-up, if not for the sheer tenacity of its cast and production crew for forging on in spite of difficulties, then for its exuberant celebration of friendship, love, and song this yuletide season.
Musically, the production was sound and delightful, as was its consistency over the 4 years that the production was staged. There may have been little method in the madness in terms of the repertoire and sequencing of the numbers, but what’s Christmas if not for the madcap fun and revelry that it brings?
Crazy Christmas – a little bit naughty and a whole lot of nice is playing at the Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay from 14 December to 23 December 2011. Catch it before its run ends!