From Dim Sum Dolly to Director

An Interview With Director, Pam Oei


By Valerie Lua

Pam Oei, one-third of the musical cabaret Dim Sum Dollies, is now on the director’s seat for the first time. Taking the lead for W!LD RICE’s upcoming musical, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, she talks about her experience and what made her take up the challenge.

“Firstly, the musical is set in Singapore, so we have to constantly think about putting it in local context,” explains Pam as she talks about localizing the musical. She went on to explain, “In Hansel & Gretel, it was extreme poverty that forced the parents to kick their kids out, but in Singapore there is no such thing, so we have to consider how to adapt that.”

“Also, it is a lot about food! In the second act, Hansel and Gretel discover a gingerbread house. It makes me wonder, what is the Singaporean gingerbread house made of?” questioned Pam, who approves of the idea of making a Singaporean fairy-tale.

“Is it made of ‘Kueh Lapis’ or the ‘Nine Layer Cake’? Or is it made of pineapples? It should exude a local taste.”

As the interview digs deeper, another reason Pam decided to direct this musical was that it isn’t just a typical ‘princess meets prince, prince saves the day’ type of story. “It’s interesting!” she exclaimed.

Well, what would a fairy-tale musical be without children? Pam gladly shared her experience of working with children from the W!LD RICE’S FIRST STAGE, a programme that develops children between the ages of 4-12 in the areas of singing, dancing, acting and more.

“It’s my first time auditioning these kids, and I found it very interesting. Sometimes, it is a bit heart-breaking to reject them,” Pam says, “but children are very teachable, when you teach them, they get it just like that!”

On a last note, Pam candidly reveals that she hopes to explore further as a director, to include the five senses. “I’m looking to introduce the dimension of smell, so it will leave the audience hungry for more. We could even sell food outside the theater!”

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