Monday, September 30, 2002

Visited The Esplanade: Theatres on the Bay yesterday during its open house. Though intially unimpressed despite all the hype in the media, I ended up liking the place quite a lot after seeing it "in the flesh", so to speak.

First, the design is actually pretty good. The durian-like roofs give it an air of grandeur, and make it distinctly Singaporean -- but whether the architects intended to create such an effect remains unknown. However, I think its location is a stroke of genius. Situated at Marina Bay with a panoramic view of the skyline and the sea, it certainly warrants comparison with that other seafront theatre, namely the Sydney Opera House.

The interior is tastefully decorated, but with the massive crowds squeezing past each other, I couldn't get a proper glimpse of the overall design. I did, however, get a look inside the concert hall, which has a seating capacity of 1,600, and suspiciously closely resembles the Royal Albert Hall -- from the pipe organ above the stage, to the domed ceiling ( but comes nowhere close in terms of class, of course ).
Acoustics-wise, the concert hall definitely has it. The 2 performances I attended were given by the MGSS choir and Budak Pantai. While the former lacked power, the latter blew me away with its hearty a capella renditions of "My Cherie Amour" ( a Stevie Wonders classic ), Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" and even "Ke Ren Lai" ( a famous children's ditty ). Their rich tenor and bass voices filled the hall and gave me goose pimples. Just imagine what it'll sound like with a full orchestra -- The London and New York Philharmonic orchestras will be gracing the stage come October, but sadly, tickets are all sold out.

Outside, there's a scenic Waterfront area with al fresco dining. The restaurants are mostly small and not very well-known. Prices will probably be around the higher ranges, so it'll be better to eat at One Fullerton ( located just 10-15 minutes' walk away ).

I still prefer the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which never fails to humble me with its size ( 10,000 seating capacity ). But The Esplanade will be a fabulous venue for musicals and classical performances. Hope the ticket prices will be more affordable though -- currently, top prices for the more popular concerts are $200 a head.

Next, did anyone read Life! today? Samuel Lee, one of the resident reporters, gave "Restless" 3 1/2 stars!?!?!?!?!?
There are, of course, a few reasons I can give for this erroneous review.
1) He has really weird taste.
2) He has a thing for Carol Tham and/or Jean Danker. ( What better way to get them interested than to say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so, the reporter who gave your show 3 1/2 stars."? )
3) He's one of the uncredited producers.
4) He was really drunk when he watched the pilot episode.

Last but not least, it's Matt Damon festival on cable in October, so stock up on blank video tapes and whip out your SCV catalogues. I don't have mine with me at the moment, so I can't give exact dates, but here're the movies which will be screened.

1) Good Will Hunting -- I had no idea this would be shown on cable, so I actually rented the DVD last week. No regrets, however. It's a brilliantly written film, with terrific performances by Damon and Robin Williams. I'll leave the story for you to find out, but make sure you're wide awake, as it's a talkie type of movie, and is loaded with gems, which is yet another reason for you to record it on tape for later repeat viewing(s). I certainly didn't appreciate it as much the first time I saw it, but last Friday, after sitting through it again, I have new-found admiration for Damon ( who penned most of the script, and at the tender age of 26 or 27 -- Ben Affleck admitted his main role was as typist ). Their work won them the Best Screenplay Oscars in 1998, and they definitely deserved them.
My favourite moments: Look out for a conversation about Ted Kazynski, aka The Unabomber, as well as a touching account of how Robin Williams' character met his wife ( the line "I gotta go see about a girl." has got to be one of the simplest yet most poignant declarations of love ever ).

2) The Talented Mr. Ripley -- This was shown on Channel i just last month, I believe, yet it will be screened again, this time on one of the SCV movie channels. Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, this is a tale about Tom Ripley, a nobody who unwittingly befriends the filthy rich Dickie Greenleaf ( matinee idol incarnate Jude Law ) and his equally wealthy girlfriend ( a lovely Gwyneth Paltrow ). When his newfound lifestyle is threatened, he proceeds to eliminate all who stand in his way, and assumes the identity of the person he most admires, with dire consequences.
Damon defies all expectations in his role as a homosexual serial killer, and manages to make your hair stand despite his boyish and rather nerdy looks. Watch out for the bathroom scene featuring Damon and Law. It's laced with sexual undertones, but it remains to be seen whether this will show up on local television -- cable or no cable ( they've banned "Sex and the City", after all ).

Adverts in the SCV catalogues have indicated that other Damon films, namely "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "All The Pretty Horses" will be screened in November/December, so get ready for more of the very delectable Matt. :)

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