Ong Sor Fern Senior Culture Correspondent recommends

Arts Picks: Michael Chiang's Playthings

From left: Chua Enlai, Joshua Lim, Ebi Shankara and Adi Jamaludin in Army Daze.
From left: Chua Enlai, Joshua Lim, Ebi Shankara and Adi Jamaludin in Army Daze.PHOTO: MICHAEL CHIANG'S PLAYTHINGS
L'arietta featuring Leslie Tay.
L'arietta featuring Leslie Tay.PHOTO: L'ARIETTA PRODUCTIONS
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial HallPHOTO: SUN YAT SEN NANYANG MEMORIAL HALL
 Benedictine nuns (above) of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fidelite of Jouques in Provence, France.
Benedictine nuns (above) of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fidelite of Jouques in Provence, France.PHOTO: NOTRE-DAME DE FIDELITE ABBEY

MICHAEL CHIANG'S PLAYTHINGS

Nothing like a good belly laugh to ward off the Covid-19 blues and who better to provide it than playwright Michael Chiang?

His Army Daze became an instant classic when it debuted on the Singapore stage in 1987. You can catch the 2012 staging of the play, which commemorated its 25th anniversary with the addition of musical numbers.

This version, which featured Chua Enlai, Joshua Lim, Ebi Shankara and Adi Jamaludin, began streaming last week and has already clocked more than 11,000 views on Chiang's Playthings channel on YouTube.

Tomorrow at 8pm, you can catch up with the beloved characters when Army Daze 2 starts streaming. This 2017 sequel reunites Malcolm Png, Teo Ah Beng, Johari Salleh, Kenny Pereira and Krishnamoorthy 30 years after national service.

Look out, too, for Chiang's classic musical Beauty World, with Dick Lee's catchy melodies, which will be streamed from June 27 at 8pm. This 2015 staging is directed by Lee and features TV star Jeanette Aw's theatrical debut as cabaret queen Lulu.

WHERE: str.sg/JPzR WHEN: Till July 13, 11.59pm


ALL DRESSED UP (NO PLACE TO GO)

If you feel like the title, then tune in for some operatic empathy with L'arietta's new eight-part series. The home-grown company has teamed up with American composer Michael Ching to create a prequel to his popular contemporary opera, Speed Dating Tonight.

The series kicked off last week with Shirt! (featuring singer Leslie Tay), a song which is more Broadway musical belting than serious opera aria. A funny paean to the complications of menswear choices, it is an accessible piece which lives up to L'arietta's tagline of "small operas, big drama".

Follow the company's social media for not just an aria a week, but also little sketches of the characters singing each tune.

WHERE: str.sg/JPzE ADMISSION: Free


WAN QING DUMPLING FESTIVAL 2020

The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall is observing the annual dumpling festival with a series of digital activities on its Facebook page.

There is a cute animated video about the origins of the festival, retelling the story of faithful official Qu Yuan, and an instructional one on folding an origami dragonboat.

There are also contests to win museum merchandise, including a mask-design challenge. Watch out for an upcoming video tutorial on dumpling making by famed dumpling seller Kim Choo Kueh Chang.

WHERE: str.sg/JPzF WHEN: Till June 30 ADMISSION: Free INFO: str.sg/JPKk


NEUMZ

You can listen to the entire Gregorian chant repertoire - all 7,000 hours of it - as sung by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fidelite of Jouques in Provence, France.

Or at least you will be able to once the Neumz database is fully updated. And fans should tune in now while they are updating the library as access is currently free.

This Web app, which launched on May 31, is the brainchild of American musician John Anderson. He installed eight microphones in the chapel where the sisters spend half a day, every day, singing their devotion.

The live nature of the recordings means you can hear shuffling, the creak of wooden pews as well as other ambient noises. But the sisters' voices, solo or in harmony, offer a clarity that is very calming and engaging.

The app is a boon for musicians and music fans as each piece is accompanied by a scrolling score, the Latin text as well as English, Spanish, French and Italian translations. The homepage also offers a detailed crash course on the religious roots of Gregorian chants, the structure of the worship and the history of the practice.

Mobile versions of the app are scheduled for an autumn release. According to information on Neumz's YouTube channel (str.sg/JdDW), there are plans to introduce a Play On Demand service on Patreon. The aim is to raise funds for the Abbey's daughter-house in the African nation of Benin.

ADMISSION: Free until fall 2020 INFO: str.sg/JdDP

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2020, with the headline 'Arts Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe