Book, Lyrics and Direction: Anthony Drewe
Music and Musical Supervision: George Stiles
Reviewer: Scott Stait
Commissioned by the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Little Theatre Company, Stiles and Drewe’s latest offering doesn’t stray far from their past subject matter. With scores such as Betty Blue Eyes, Just So and Honk! under their belt, they are no strangers to anthropomorphising a variety furry, feathered and hooved friends. In an elaboration of the well-known Three Little Pigs story, Stiles and Drewe showcase their well-versed craft in this triumphant summer musical for all the family.
After being left widowed, Alison Jiear’s Mother Pig encourages her three youngsters to flee the nest and make their own way in the world. With some reluctance, they take her advice, heading off on their way to build their own accommodation. Of course, waiting just around the corner to trip them up is the Big Bad Wolf, who meets his demise after failing to demolish the final house. All the original elements of the story are here, and Drewe’s book does well to weave between new and established ideas. Stiles’ pop, rock and gospel-influenced score fluctuates quite sporadically in the opening section, but once the show settles there are some genuinely attractive melodies, and a great contemporary sound to bridge the parent and child gap.
Taofique Folarin, Leanne Jones and Daniel Buckley as strong but dim-witted Bar, headstrong Bee and book smart Q respectively offer strong performances across the board, and despite some sound issues at the start give great vocal performances; Buckley’s upper register in his solo number is particularly impressive. Alison Jiear packs a punch with her solid vocal performance, stating her authority as matriarch of the family. Simon Webbe, although vocally the weakest of the quintet, has no problem in playing the fool as the misjudged Big Bad Wolf, and shows off his dance and comedy skills in “A Bit Misunderstood,” brilliantly choreographed by Ewan Jones. Jason Denvir’s simple yet colourful design animates the piece, with effective costuming and a clever set design.
Although it is always sad to hear a backing track in lieu of a live band, Ruth Ling’s varied orchestrations bring the piece to life, and ensure the little ones in the audience are up and clapping before the hour is up. The choice of venue may be slightly off the mark, as the show gets swallowed up by the vast Palace Theatre auditorium, but this show has real potential to delight across the country, as it could easily slip into the popular children’s touring canon.
A fun, pint-sized but larger than life musical reworking of a classic tale that is sure to amuse and engage audiences this summer. And as the young girl sitting next to me turned to her mother and said: “This is not the proper Three Little Pigs. This one is much better!”
Runs until 6 September