(Photo above : Producer Desmond Moey, author Stella Kon and actor Ivan Heng, who starred in one of the monologues).
I have never watched the monologue play by Stella Kon despite it being played many times to acclaimed reviews. I had recently read the book (https://vickychong.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/emily-of-emerald-hill-by-stella-kon/) and met both the author Stella and producer at a book club and decided I should support local theatre more. The producer, Desmond Moey, happens to be my hubby’s ex colleague, added to our decision.
The play was held at SOTA, in a small cosy theatre which sits about 200.
The cast of 13, contrasted with the original just one actress on stage, which was more to my style. Thus the script was changed to having the perspectives of the other members of the Gan family instead of being wholly told by just Emily. Emily herself was played by three different actresses, all who brought out three different stages of Emily convincingly. I thought they were over shadowed by the sultry mistress Diana though.
The story is being narrated by an old Emily to her grandson’s girlfriend, with flashbacks.
Many of the songs were sentimental songs which were catchy, but I felt some were simply too long for a single person to belt out. Both my neighbors and I nodded off at one time or another. A tighter script would have improved the drama, with less said the better.
The Peranakan sitting room was simple and remained unchanged throughout, since they had the constraints of space.
The nonya costumes could have been more showy. Emily is after all the Matriarch of Emerald Hill and could well afford more blings. A musical is after all more than just songs, and there should have been more leverage on the costumes for a visual treat for the audience.
Considering that this is a world premiere, there is certainly more room for improvement, hopefully in a grander venue, to bring glory to what Emerald Hill once was again.