Song of Singapore

Tuesday, 10 July, 2001

Book by Alan Katz, Eirk Frandsen, Robert Hipkens, Michael Garin and Paula Lockheart. Music & Lyrics by Eirk Frandsen, Robert Hipkens, Michael Garin and Paula Lockheart.

A hit off-Broadway, "Song of Singapore" was first seen in the UK at Chichester Festival in 1998 and again earlier this year. The show has now transferred to the West End at the May Fair theatre, which has re-opened, ten years since it last hosted a professional production. This theatre is actually situated in the Mayfair Inter-Continental Hotel, in Stratton Street, across the road from Green Park Tube station in Piccadilly. It is an intimate theatre that seats around 300, which is perfect for this small-scale musical.

Directed by Roger Redfarn, Issy van Randwyck leads the cast as 'Rose of Rangoon', a sultry saloon singer in a 1941 seedy Singapore nightclub. The slim plot concerns Rose, who has lost her memory, and the band she plays with at the nightclub. Enemy troops are closing in on Singapore and they need to escape. They get their opportunity when they lay their hands on some priceless jewels. However, a crooked policeman is hot on their heels and wants the jewels for himself.

This is a delightful and happy show, but the music is not really my cup-of-tea!! The 1940s jazz type music is fine in moderation, but for two hours I found it too much. However, the show is saved by some terrific performances, most notably from the talented Issy van Randwyck, who captures the mood and tempo of the 1940’s perfectly, and of course she has a super voice. Elio Pace is also outstanding playing Freddy, the bar owner, who does some nifty things with his piano. The show also has a lot of light humour, particularly from Neil Gore, who plays some hilarious characters. The rest of the company are all talented playing a host of different musical instruments.

The oriental design by Stuart Wood captures the ambiance wonderfully with a nightclub set, bead curtains, paper dragons, flowers and tables at the edge of the stage. You do feel as if you have been transported back in time!

The show received good reviews from most of the popular press…. PATRICK MARMION for THE EVENING STANDARD says, “A whole lot of fun but terribly quaint too.” JANE EDWARDES for TIME OUT says, “If you’re in the mood for a party, this small-scale musical will surely fit the bill.” BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, “Song of Singapore offers that rare thing in a new musical silly, unpretentious fun.” CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, “Song of Singapore deserves to delight audiences for a long time to come and will, with luck, turn Randwyck into the major star she so richly deserves to be.”PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, “This is the kind of show that sets out to be silly, and you'll emerge wearing either a frankly bemused exp-ression or a goofy grin of pleasure at the wit.” PETER HEPPLE for THE STAGE says, "Musical is one of years finest." He goes on to say, "The company is little short of sensational." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN did not like the show saying, “As a piece of 40s pastiche, it has not one iota of the wit…it is simply a collection of numbers in search of a story.” He goes on to say, “I was reminded of the old adage that a musical is only as good as its book - and this one is so awful I found it difficult to succumb to the party spirit.” MICHAEL WRIGHT THE SUNDAY TIMES says, “There is no heart here, no warmth, no light…”

Lovers of jazzy type music will find this comic musical delightful and a lot of fun, but others will only find it mildly entertaining.

(Darren Dalglish)

Links to full reviews from newspapers...

The Times
The Guardian
The Independent
The Sunday Times
The Daily Telegraph

Looking for the best seats...