Things to Do with your Kids

Fairytales quite contrary

By Jo TanEvents - 07 March 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 3:33 PM

Fairytales quite contrary

ant & grasshopper
The Ant & The Grasshopper. Photo: 6Frames c/o i Theatre

‘The Ant & the Grasshopper’

Fairytales come with mandatory morals, but these sometimes need to be moderated for modernity. Not many of today's people really think boys deserve to be eaten by wolves for pulling pranks.

Actor Erwin Shah Ismail said: “I love the learning values behind fairytales, but times are changing and I think that the takeaways from fairytales are different from when they were written.” He has played various fairytale characters including the wolf in Singapore Repertory Theatre’s ‘Red Riding Hood’ and the prince in the theatre company’s ‘The Tale of the Frog Prince’. 

Now, he is the grasshopper in I Theatre's ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’. “I do feel some fairytales could have a better ending, which is more accessible, or the journey to the ending can be different. We have both in our version of ‘Ant’.”

This new I-Theatre version by Brian Seward blurs the lines a little between the hardworker ant and lazy slob grasshopper. 

“The whole musical is about finding that balance between those traits,” Erwin said. “Brian has added bees and a ladybird, and each insect has different personality traits and must learn to find a balance. I relate with each of them, including how the ant prepares for the future, though of course I enjoy the arts and music and compose my own songs on the ukulele, like the grasshopper.” 

Erwin has to sing, dance, and strum original compositions by Julian Wong on his ukulele, all at the same time. “It took me till a week before the show before I could manage all of them. It was the most rewarding thing when it all came together.”

Date: Now until 15 March 2014 | Time: 9.30am, 11.30am (Mon, Tue & Fri); 9.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm (Wed & Thu); 10.30am, 2.30pm (Sat) | Venue: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road | Tickets: $30-$32 from Sistic


Hansel & gretel
Hansel & Gretel. Photo: Glowsticks Productions

‘Hansel & Gretel: An Eco Adventure’

This half-hour bite-sized excursion in the unassuming Aliwal Arts Centre Black Box near North Bridge Road is the inaugural show of new theatre company Glowsticks Productions. Yet, it aims to be as sparkling as it is small: director Darren Yap, who has helmed shows such as ‘Mama Mia’ and ‘Miss Saigon’ in various countries, directs. 

The little set and costumes are designed by Australia's Matthew McCall. The show also features custom-made puppets as well as a cast boasting Singapore's top young theatre performers including Amanda Tee, Timothy Wan and Cassandra Spykerman. The script and songs are the brainchildren of leading TV and musical theatre actor Dwayne Tan.

Tan said: “The producer, Grace Low, saw a script I was developing for an independent animated movie project. She wanted to nurture the local theatre industry, so she gave me a chance.”

“I used a fairytale as a starting point because both parents and kids are familiar with fairytales, and it's nice for the family to share something they all know...or think they know.” 

Tan has had his own well-received turn as Hansel in ‘Hansel and Gretel’, W!ld Rice's 2013 version of the tale penned by Alfian Sa'at. That role gave him pause against writing his own version.

“I was thinking, is that too many Hansels in a few months? But I decided that mine was very different. I'm an environment advocate, and I was looking to adapt a fairytale with a forest setting, where someone or something, like a witch, was destroying the environment. This teaches kids the importance of the balance in nature and what happens when that is upset.” 

Prophetically, this show arrives in the middle of an official “drought” in Singapore, as rainfall is in an all-time low and grass is drying up.

“There are things we can do to save water,” Tan said. “Newater is great, I've tried it... but the play doesn't address those directly. It teaches how everything in nature needs to work together, and how we need to not just do what we are told, but find out information about how we can help.” 

Date: Now until 22 March 2014 | Time: 2pm (Mon & Wed); 10am (Tue); 11am, 2pm (Sat) | Venue: Multi-Purpose Hall, Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal Street | Tickets: $19 from Sistic


Poster for 'Rapunzel'


Eleanor Tan works regularly as a fairytale character in theatre “I played Red Riding Hood's grandma for Singapore Repertory Theatre's The Little Company (TLC) last December. It's a relief to now doff the grey wig and glasses for a more glamorous look as Esme the witch in TLC's ‘Rapunzel’.”

That's right, this fairytale adaptation eschews the witch as cackling crone, in favour one that is a little easier on the eye. Also, expect added characters in the form of a camel, a bird, and a cactus, all who sing and dance a lot, and they help both Rapunzel and the witch go on respective journeys of self-discovery. 

Tan welcomes this deviation from the classic version of the tale. “While the melodrama and violence of the original fairytales may have appealed to my darker side, the parochial, patriarchal values frustrated me. 

“I remember reading ‘Snow White’ and asking myself, ‘Why would you marry a guy for kissing you when you were dead?’ Or reading ‘Cinderella’ and thinking, ‘What kind of father would marry such a horrible woman and allow her to mistreat his daughter?’

“I used to read fairytales to my own daughter, until the dark day she declared that only boys could be heroes because girls were supposed to be princesses. I instantly popped the DVD of ‘Mulan’ into the player and sat her down for a viewing.”

Of course, as with all TLC productions, there will be spectacular sets, props and costumes, all calculated to immerse audiences in a technicoloured fantasy world. Directed by Lotte Wakeham who has worked at West End and Broadway, it will be an enchanting update to the classic tale. 

Date: 14 March-30 April 2014 | Time: 10am, 2pm (Mon-Fri); 11am, 2pm (Sat, Sun and public holiday) | Venue: DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Road  | Tickets: $22-$35 from Sistic



Hansel and Gretel - An Eco Adventure

Hansel and Gretel - An Eco Adventure

Date Mar 01, 2014 - Mar 22, 2014

VenueAliwal Arts Centre

Ticket PriceS$19.00
 (excludes booking fee)

The Ant and The Grasshopper

The Ant and The Grasshopper

Date Feb 26, 2014 - Mar 15, 2014

VenueJubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel

Ticket PriceS$24.00 - S$32.00
 (excludes booking fee)



Date Mar 14, 2014 - Apr 30, 2014

VenueDBS Arts Centre

Ticket PriceS$25.00 - S$32.00
 (excludes booking fee)