For starters, [title of show] is the title of the show. It’s a show about a show about a show. There. Now that you know the premise, enjoy the show as it unfolds in all its simple complexity.
Here’s the deal: two blokes decide they want to write a play – a musical – together. A short play. One act. With original music – four songs – must have four songs. Hunter and Jeff start to talk about their endeavour. The audience is in on the conversation. Layers upon layers, heh? Soon, good friends Heidi and Susan enter the picture sparking ideas and giving the plot depth and nuance. Less banter than streams of thought, the dialogue accentuates the individual essence of the four compelling actors. They are four, yet they are one. A puzzle.
Then there are the playwrights, Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen. Hunter and Jeff – get it? Layers upon layers. Having determined that their discussions about plot, characters, motivation, and puzzle-power, were prompts for their thoughts, the writers came up with [title of show]. “[title of show]” comes from a fill-in-the-blank in the submission for the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival – an apt beginning for a show that doesn’t take itself too damn seriously. Through the four characters, the playwrights are having fun with ideas and letting the audience in on the process.
Eventually, their submission spawned a full-length musical with five new songs added to the original four. But the original one-act version refines the play’s ideas down to their essential core. Taut and tightly woven, the play is an intrigue. By the end, one is hard-pressed to realize that so much has happened and been aired in such a compact length. In one-act. [title of show] unpretentious thought-provoking fun.
Although the show was first staged almost a decade ago, its relevance on stage is clear in our puzzling times. As snappy and clever as the book’s dialogue, the songs present the characters’ angst and yearning, but with a soft touch. A touch that is often a tickle given with a nod and a wink. “This is not to be taken all that seriously” is the message. “This is fun, but fun with a purpose.”
Complicated fun, to be sure, but as it washes over your teeming brain, there’s a tacit plea; “Laugh and clap and join the fun but – and this might not happen until well after you’ve seen the show – think about a show within a show and the multi-tiered thoughts and events that make our own lives. Are we just part of a play?
Along with twelve other shows [title of show], is part of an extravagant festival of drama, dance, and MUSIC. Add to that mix SIX WORKSHOPS, TWO HEADLINER SHOWS, and TEN TALKS AND EVENTS and you have a concentrated dramatic mixture.
Here’s a sampler of some of the intriguing titles on offer at Musical Theatre Fringe Festival (MTFF):
Monster in the Mirror, Voices: the screams and whispers inside your head, Musical Dance Workshop, Dance Storytelling Workshop, Talk Cock Singsong Workshop, Movie Musical Dance Workshop, Murder Mystery Musical, Where’s the Rice?, Runaway with Me, I Am Brother Hand, The Hidden Singapore Musical, It’s Just Trauma, Tissue Auntie and more.
We’re just getting started. Chock full of activities, drama, and elbow-rubbing with like-minded cultural explorers, MTFF is a force to be reckoned with.
Reckon with it. You’ll be glad you did.
Musical Theatre Fringe Fest is an ambitious offering from Sing’theatre which seeks to bring music, theatre and cultural awareness to all parts of the creatively diverse Singapore community.
So don your meta-hats, open your mind to something brand new, be ready for a hearty laugh or two, and enjoy MUSICAL THEATRE FRINGE FEST.
It’s a wild ride!
For more information, you can visit: www.singtheatre.com/mtff