***I received complimentary tickets to see Junior Claus. However, all views expressed within are my opinion***
On Saturday Nov 8 we went to see Junior Claus, a Little Company production, at DBS Arts Centre.
“I’m Santa’s only son. I’m supposed to take over and I dont even understand how Christmas magic works!”
Junior Claus is the rebellious heir to an immense empire in the North Pole, where elves busily prepare for the biggest day of the year – Christmas. When Santa falls into a deep sleep because the Belief-o-Meter falls to a dangerously low level, Grumpo the greedy elf assumes power as Chief Inventor in Santas workshop. After Junior runs away from home, Grumpo attempts to achieve his sinister goal: ruin the Yuletide season forever.
Will Junior return home to save Santa? Can he rekindle the Christmas spirit? Join Junior and his friends, Chipper the elf and Pengy the penguin, as they race against time to bring Christmas back. With upbeat tunes and engaging dialogue, Junior Claus encapsulates the best of the Christmas spirit, making it a festive year-end treat for audiences of all ages! (source, Sistic page)
As with many movies and shows at Christmas time, the central theme of the show is belief. Belief in Santa/Christmas, and belief in one’s self. Elanor received and bought into that whole heartedly. Ellie told me (with a very serious tone in her voice) that Junior needed to learn how to believe like she believes.
There are several moments of audience participation, and they’re handled well. The audience that viewed the show with us seemed to be around Ellie’s age (six) or a bit only (maybe to nine or so) and they seemed engaged (minus the typical kid restlessness here and there). There are a number of puns and the parental extortion Grumpo has planned that flew over the kid’s heads, but that myself and the adults around me seemed to snicker at.
The manner in which Singapore was included (they need a human child to help the belief-o-meter) was mostly well done. There was an awkward dig at Malaysia and in the stream of questions to Santa, the child asks “and why are you sometimes African?” which felt off. There’s an excellent section in Nurture Shock‘s chapter 3 on race/racism where they pose the idea that Santa might not be white to kindergarten children that exposes how solidly the idea of Santa as white is entrenched. But obviously the Santa Claus that children encounter in Singapore isn’t white–the people hired to play Santa are Singaporean, so the whole race thing felt weird in the context of Singapore–I’m curious what the original line was.
That said, we had a wonderful time.
The show is performed by a six person cast.
Seong Hui Xuan‘s Chipper the Elf was exceptional. Whether singing, dancing or acting, her enthusiasm and stage presence is formidable–she absolutely has the “it” factor. Chipper was Elanor’s favorite character and ties for my favorite character with Tan’s Pengy.
Timothy Wan’s Grumpo is a delightful villian. He’s deliciously bad as he practically chews the scenery in his commitment to destroying Christmas.
Cheryl Tan’s Pengy is hilarious comic relief–I could watch an entire show around that character as acted by Tan. Any time she was on stage, she stole the show. Her secondary role as Tara (the girl who believes) is enjoyable for the few moments Tara is on stage.
Candice De Rozario’s role as Brunhilde the henchman was enjoyable. It actually took me several minutes to realize it was the same actor as the one who played Mrs. Claus. Performing such radically different characters in the same show, and switching between them effortlessly deserves notice.
Benjamin Chow’s Santa is everything you want in a Santa–he’s warm and jolly with a booming voice. His secondary role as Dasher is enjoyable, although quite minor. But again, he switches between the roles easily.
Dwayne Tan as Junior Claus was…okay. His voice was much weaker than the rest of the cast. In several songs he was drowned out by the music, and on stage he was often softer than the other characters. He’s not a bad performer, but he’s not as strong as the other mains, and the show suffers a bit because of that.
Junior Claus was the kick off to our holiday season–I left thinking of the new Idina Menzel Christmas album that I’ve purchased but not yet listened to, and Ellie was ready to come home and set up the Christmas tree. So the overall mission of the show was accomplished–we left in a happy holiday mood. I’d recommend the show to anyone with kids in the 5-10 range who include Santa in their holiday traditions.
Junior Claus is playing at DBS Arts Centre through December 14
Tickets are available via Sistic or at the box office