Local theatre company Wild Rice ended this year’s season, themed imagiNATION, by celebrating the imaginative potential of the nation with a final show for this season titled ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ – a localised and modernised version of the classic pantomime, showcasing the truly creative and collaborative nature of theatre. Bringing together a varied and unexpected cast of Singaporean performers, the re-worked classic was one that kept surprising throughout the performance, and the audiences were treated to a feast of music, singing, dancing and acting, put together by some of the most talented creatives on the local scene.
Veteran theatre professional Lim Kay Siu played the pompous Emperor Lim Bay Kun (spot the pun!) besides stars of the local music scene, Sezairi Sezali and Benjamin Kheng. Yes, you read right – instantly recognisable on stage were the Singapore Idol winner and one of the members of indie favourite The Sam Willows. The charming duo played Khairul No Surname, and Nathan No Surname respectively, orphans turned tailors seeking to expose (quite literally) the Emperor’s folly and pride. Although Kheng is arguably the more refined of the two in terms of acting and dancing, Sezali has a raw vocal quality that makes them a perfect pairing. Both were nothing less than dazzling as they jammed on stage together, performing songs like “Brother from Another Mother”. By turns moving and uproarious, “Brother from Another Mother” is a song that captured the mood of the musical precisely and is one among the many original compositions by the internationally-acclaimed music director, Julian Wang.
Most heartening of all was the inclusion of children from First Stage, a programme run by Wild Rice that nurtures budding talents aged 5 to 12. Despite dropping their pompoms and having their shoes fall off on stage, the eagerness of the children was unmistakeable. Having such bright young performers as part of an already diverse and impressive cast drove home a central message of the play – the future is a promising one if we can let go of our prejudices, embrace the innocence that comes with youth and realise that immense creative potential lies in our humble nation.