I’m writing this before we leave for Phuket and scheduling the post in advance.
On Saturday, August 7, Sue, Amit, Ravi and I went to go see “Voyage de la Vie” at the Resort World Theater next to the Casino.
It’s a production in the same family as those by Cirque du Soleil. The basic idea is that there’s this boy who is very unhappy with his life and is searching for meaning. He is sent into the magical world of The Latern Keeper and learns about desire, love, death, courage, and other things for each act.
I was very excited to see Voyage de la Vie, as I’ve never seen Cirque Du Soleil live and I’ve been really interested in this sort of theatrical experience ever since my friend Frank really started talking up Cirque du Soleil years ago. I had actually booked tickets for Ravi and I before we knew Sue and Amit were coming to visit in August, but luckily I found out when they were coming with enough advance notice to get them seats next to us (and my close friends all know how incredibly picky I am about seating for theatrical events like plays and musicals).
We sat down early, which was absolutely the right move. For about 10 minutes or so prior to the actual show, there’s a pre-show, for lack of a better term. The two magicians and the boy come out and do some magic and other funny things dressed as janitors. At one point, one of the magicians comes out into the audience and pretends to clean the air by various audience members. Ravi and I were spritzed and the air in front of us “cleaned” by the magician, who gave us a big smile (and if I recall correctly a thumbs up” now that our viewing space was clean.
The show is overwhelming. I picked the equivalent of the first row of the mezzanine for us, which I consider perfect seating for musical events. You’re far back enough to clearly see the whole stage, but not so far back that you can’t easily see facial expressions and subtle nuances of body language. For comparison, I consider these perfect seats for Phantom of the Opera, which has several scenes where there is action going on throughout the stage. Voyage de la Vie has action going on all over the stage (and out into the aisles of the audience at several points) all the time. It is impossible to actually watch everything that is going on in every scene. However, it was not chaotic…it was wonderfully done and more of an “everywhere you look there’s something wonderful” experience.
The costumes were also spectacular. Sparkly enough to really draw attention, especially for the woman who played the part of Desire, but not so sparkly that they were gaudy. They helped the characters convey the emotions or concepts they were portraying, but they never overwhelmed the people wearing them.
The gymnastics blew me away. There was one person who was double jointed and who moved as if there were no bones in his body. At times it was almost nausea inducing to watch him bending his body in ways that every instinct you have screamed wasn’t normal. There were four male gymnasts who played dragons, and at one point they were on a structure with four bars making a square. Each would be on a bar, but they were doing moves synchronized so that they were passing within inches of each other. I think, in part, what really blew me away is seeing how the baby gymnastics Ella does on the bar will one day turn into moves like that if she decides to stay with gymnastics as a form of exercise and fun.
I can also say that the best erotic dancing in Singapore happens at this show. I refuse to disclose how I have a basis for comparison, but I will state that with full confidence. Besides…there was male pole dancing! The costumes often left little to the imagination while being wholly within Singaporean rules (no nipples, among other things), which made for great eye candy.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the show was how it combined a lot of Western notions (that there’s got to be more to life than work, desire, confidence) with Eastern notions (that love is pure, one must find balance, the running dragon theme). There were also Chinese subtitles to song lyrics and the narration on screens on either side of the stage. Unlike when I see an American movie, and often forget that I’m in Singapore…I was constantly reminded that I’m now in a different culture than my home one.
I liked it well enough to call it a 7 or 8 out of 10. But I did take issue with a few things, and these complaints are purely because I’m a broadway geek.
Firstly, there was narration, telling you what each act was about. I felt like it was wholly unnecessary. Maybe because I’m a fan of professional dance (particulary ballet), but I just felt like the narration detracted. Numbers like Desire, Love, and Death were easily figured out. I think the pieces were strong enough that they just didn’t need the narration.
Secondly, there was singing. I don’t have an issue with singing per se, but there are only 3 or 4 numbers in something like 10 scenes. But the songs were pretty catchy. However, the male lead’s voice was only just okay. It certainly didn’t seem like the voice of a male lead in a musical…and it just didn’t make sense to me why he’d be cast (he didn’t have any particular circus skill or something that would otherwise justify it)…until I read the program. He was the runner up of Singapore Idol. Oh…now it makes sense.
Finally, the whole “breaking the 4th wall” thing. I’m torn over whether or not I like it, and if/when I think it’s appropriate. I certainly laughed during the pre-show, but towards the end when various cast members are out in the audience and strolling between the first and second set of stalls (we were in the first row of the second stalls as they’re called here) it was a little uncomfortable–am I supposed to look at you because you’re closest to me; is it rude to look at the stage instead?
Overall, though, it was a really fun night out. If you’re a local, or coming to visit, it is well worth the money and time.