The Experience with Singapura: The Musical

Presented by The 4th Wall Theatre Co

Composer / Arranger / Musical Director



Capitol Theatre

22 May – 19 July 2015

Singapura: The Musical credit: Liang Vincent WANG

Singapura: The Musical   (credit: Liang Vincent WANG)

My second kid was born weeks ago. It’s like reset button been pressed. I was sent back again to the life changing experience when my first kid was born. I have not stepped in any performance venue for a month before I was invited to the newly restored Capitol theatre for the musical, Singapura.

The Plot

“Singapura: The Musical takes the audience through a journey of love, hope, and new beginnings while exploring the strength of the human spirit during the formative years of Singapore’s history from 1955 to 1965. Through the eyes of ordinary men and women…Their passion and drive sees them dreaming, hoping and creating – against all odds – a place where they can truly call home.”

The Music

The music used in musical is mixed from fast paced songs, light hearted tunes and touching melodies. Some of the lyrics were adapted from Singapore historical lines. It may remind you about the secondary school history class. The same text could be seen as dramatic for audiences in other parts of the world.

The singing is certainly more than satisfying. The cast should be given credit. It’s not easy to sing while managing themselves in the fast paced acting. The orchestration were kept simple as the pit size allows only a small ensemble. It would be great to hear a more full body orchestration. Still the musicians did a good job for the show. To me, live music is always better than pre-recorded playback in the theatre.

I really enjoy those slower paced songs, e.g. “The Home I knew”, “Remember” and “Something About You”. Maybe more are needed to re-calibrate the whole dynamic and to relax the audiences in between the tumultuous scenes. In fact, for any musical, most audiences only remember the slow songs. It might also be helpful to cut back on words and narratives to distant itself from being a bit documentary. On the other hand, allocating more developments on the personal touch around the characters. This would also allow the audiences more time to think and reflect on the story.

Through the production you can probably hear and see the influence from Les Miserable and Moulin Rouge. Mind you, the former musical received negative reviews when first premiered in London, “a witless and synthetic entertainment”.

The Stage & Lighting

The stage setting was constrained by the small space, yet quite effective. The use of the LED projection set the necessary backgrounds. The three storey structure was also put to good use through the show. I like the way it was managed in the scene of Lee May and Flynn’s separation and also the scene of the mother’s death. The best is the lovely authentic Kopitiam setup. This alone means a lot to the people who lived through the era.

Leading cast in the Kopitiam (credit: Liang Vincent WANG)

Leading cast in the Kopitiam (credit: Liang Vincent WANG)

The lighting was general good, like the starry night scene with Lee May and Flynn. During certain scenes, the lighting might be a bit cold and casted a depression feel. A bit warmer and nostalgic feel might bring the some comfy to the audiences. I’m sure they badly need it after following through the turbulence.

Scenes from Singapura- The Musical (credit to Singapura- The Musical

Scenes from Singapura- The Musical (credit:  Singapura- The Musical)

The Venue

The Capitol Theatre was an iconic building. The restored one is no less so. For performers, new venues are always exciting and challenging with all the uncertainties. This is especially true in the first few years after opening. Think of the recently restored Victoria Concert Hall, Esplanade in the early years. Not just in Singapore, the €400 million Philharmonie de Paris is going through the same right now.

I spoke with the Sound Designer Ms Emily Adam after the show. The technical glitches and challenges posed by a new theatre made her job tough for every evening even after a few runs. If time allowed, it would be great to fine tune the sound balance with different cast and musicians. As someone working for DTS, it would be wonderful to have surround and ambience to envelop the audiences even better.

Inside the theatre, credit: Liang Vincent WANG

Inside the theatre (credit: Liang Vincent WANG)

The Cast and Accent

Before coming to the show, I had read many comments on these. Both drawn a lot attentions, which I fully understood.

If you had followed plays or operas, this is probably not a problem at all. Everyday there are Shakespeare performed around the world by different cast. This reminds me of the Richard III with Kevin Spacey years ago in esplanade theatre. The American accent did not make it a bad production.
Have you ever watched an Italian opera by English or German cast?
These things are pretty common around the world in the theatre business. A great work can be performed by cast from countries with different accents or even different native languages.

Would I like to see a production of this musical with more Singaporeans in the cast?
Yes. (There are 11 right now)
Is this a deciding factor to determine whether this could be great show?

Then why it became so controversial here? Perhaps, it is the title of the work plus its premiere was in Singapore, where the audiences have the authentic accent and may know the history better than the cast.

Singapura- The Musical Gala Night with Guest of Honour Minister Tan Chuan Jin (credit: Singapura The Musical)

Singapura- The Musical Gala Night with Guest of Honour Minister Tan Chuan Jin (credit: Singapura The Musical)

The Production

You may want to read the story behind the musical told by the composer himself. From there you will find why this production was brought by a team from Philippine.

The 4th Wall theatre is a new player in the musical scene. It may not be at the top of game to be compared with Broadway or West End. In fact, the production team is taking a great risk to produce this original musical and bring its world premiere in Singapore. They had to work with limited time, resources and unlimited challenges.
Isn’t this just like the building of Singapore? It is not perfect, but the team should be given the due credit for their job. And they are taking steps each time and in fact every evening to improve.

The Experience

It is very different between reading the reviews and being part of a live performance. The difference is like reading a soccer post match analysis and being in the stadium and part of the game.

In this very special year, it makes perfect sense to immerse yourself in the history never presented in this way before. Overall I felt my two and half hours well spent. I even bought a copy of the recording as a souvenir. Certainly, I hope to catch a production of this musical again with my daughter and son many years later!

Original Cast Recording (Credit: Liang Vincent WANG)

Original Cast Recording (Credit: Liang Vincent WANG)

If you’d like to experience yourself, the performance is ongoing till 19 July 2015

Singapura: The Musical
Capitol Theatre
Tickets from $65 at eventClique,

Disclaimer: The writer of this article has been in Singapore since 2004. He does not speak with authentic Singlish accent. Singapore is not his hometown. It is his home.

DTS is hiring

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My contact info is on this page

Job Description

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Job Responsibilities
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Essential Functions and Responsibilities
•Develop mobile, tablet, and desktop applications, documenting software
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•Master’s degree in computer science or engineering with 3 years of industry experience or Bachelor’s degree and 5 years of industry experience
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•Has an understanding of multimedia frameworks and the ability to integrate them
•Experience with integrating audio SDKs into lower level APIs on Android, iOS and Windows 8, as well as knowledge of common audio API’s, and digital audio signal processing is ideal

最长的队 — the long and winding queue











Vincent’s take on the concerts/shows in 2014

This is backblog keeping. Just to record my personal take of the 2014 concerts/shows before it’s too late..

The Exceptional:
I attended many concerts/shows through the year. Most are good (e.g. many concerts by Singapore Symphony Orchestra ). Some are exceptional or much better than what I had expected.

The second night of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in the Esplanade.
World class orchestra playing on form.

Orchestra of the Music Makers playing “Planets” in the Esplanade
This was my first time hearing “Planets” live. The orchestra simply out did themselves again. I really look forward to their Mahler symphony No.8 concert this year.

A Dream Like A Dream in Esplanade theater
This play changed the definition of a play to me, full stop.

Cameron Carpenter organ recital in Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County, CA, US.
Before the concert, the only thing I knew about him was his almost rebellious dress as an organist. However the way he talked about music in the concert was so sincere and way better than many other organists I heard.

The Disappointing:
Good or bad is subjective. But some are simply disappointing.

Facing Goya
Hype and hype before the start of the poor-line-upped, inaugural Singapore International Arts Festival (SIFA). The musicians from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra had actually done a good job. Unfortunately that’s not enough from saving a disappointing show.
This poorly staged opera tried so hard to present some idea that was much better presented a hundred times in novels, films, etc.. I really regret wasting my time in the otherwise lovely cozy newly renovated Victoria theater.

First night of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) at the Esplanade
The orchestra just sounded jet lag. An average form SSO would play better than the LSO on that night.

The Mixed Bag

Jordi Savall: Jerusalem
Great music making for sure. Exceptional programme and presentation. However, the use of loudspeaker killed the pure beauty of acoustic experience. Did the organizer know that the Esplanade concert hall is capable of producing a better experience?

The Ugly

Israel Philharmonic performing in Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatres.
Normally I would not comment on concerts I didn’t attend. But this one is out right kidding.
The organizer put an excellent orchestra into a good example of failed acoustic venue in a glittering shopping mall. What a waste! I am so glad I didn’t purchase myself a ticket to regret.

A disk read error occurred

My five and half years quad core desktop started giving me a lot of disk errors in the last year.

It was like once a month in the beginning till unbearable once a week.

Some times the harddisk just disappear from the system.

I got A disk read error occurred error when I restarted it. Harddisk SMART Status may show  BAD.

I changed the SATA cable. Didn’t help. Suspect it was my harddisk.

Took the oppotunity to upgrade to a new SSD. Didn’t help either.

Did almost all solutions mentioned in this post, no success.

Until recently I realize it might be the SATA socket on the motherboard.

After a few swaps, I found two SATA sockets on my motherboard had gone bad.

Currently my SSD stays stable on SATA 3 on the board for more than a month. Hope it can keep strong until Intel produce something worth upgrading.

Classical recording shopping in Singapore

With the closing down of HMV@313 Someset, I no longer visit any local store for classical music recordings. Instead I now fully rely on online store for physical release, spotify for streaming and of course live concerts for the real thing. I’m not a fan for download.

Just to share my experience on shopping/collecting classical music. I purchase most of my recordings from following sites:

The above three sites have the best shipping rate to Singapore.

Occasionally I would also buy from

For physical stores, you can also try shops in Adelphi, there are a few that carry oops release at reasonable price. These shops are serving towards the “audiophile” crowd. I seldom visit for classical new release.

Besides HMV@Marina Square (Update 2015, closed). The other surviving chain store is That CD shop.

In fact it was transformed to focus on cafe more than on CD. I haven’t tried their food. Maybe next time, as I guess their cafes have a much higher chance surviving than the CD outlets.

Physical recordings have become collection item rather than the main stream music carrier. Nothing wrong with it. You just need to know the trade off.

Update: That CD shop in Raffles City closed. Check their facebook for the latest branch info.






1. CPU长期被占用,唤醒

2. 3G/4G数据连接一直被占用。




1. 把微信所有提醒功能,没用的插件关闭,自己手动刷。毕竟需要即时联系我的人,不会用微信。

2. 安装 2 Battery 或者 JuiceDefender, 这两个app能阻止其他app后台一直连接数据。



Android 系统支持完全的多任务,后台app可以用wakelock来推迟CPU进入深度睡眠,来完成一些任务。如果app设计得当,完全没问题。但是一些垃圾app, 有事没事发wakelock。你想象一下,半夜每几分钟被人推醒一次的感受。

微信因为某些原因,采取了令人发指的后台自启动,唤醒CPU设计。即使把所有更新都关掉也一样。不管你有没有root,安装 BetterBatteryStatus 或者 Wakelock Detector,你就可以看到微信WeChat的唤醒次数。


于是我用Advanced Task Manager 每10分钟杀一次WeChat进程。实际上每次杀WeChat,它会自启动,所以必须反复杀。但间隔太短也不行,毕竟杀进程本身就要占用CPU。



Update: 貌似5.3改变了不小,有待继续观察