By Lye Han Jun (13A01A)
Photos courtesy of Ng Siyuan
Last Friday night, COMMA held The Audition, a follow-up of 2011’s The Rehearsal. Performers persevered despite a disappointing turnout (less than half the RI auditorium) and an increasingly glitchy sound system to provide slightly over 2 hours of entertainment.
The concert opened with Koh Fang Hua being dragged onstage in a body bag and the introduction of the three emcees—Fang Hua was a director who had been knocked unconscious for a year while Vanessa Ronald took over his show as a demanding supervisor. Sum Xin Yi rounded off the trio as Fanny, the staple incompetent bimbo.
Neo Mei Qi took to the stage with a version of Adele’s Someone Like You that was pleasing but had some iffy high notes. She was followed by 15-year-old Max Ko, who wowed the small audience with an emotional contemporary dance (is there such a thing as unemotional contemporary dance?) to When Doves Cry by Prince. While having good technique, he fell slightly out of sync with the music at some parts but nevertheless managed to pull off an impressive choreography. Some kind of sinister subplot unfolded between performances as Fanny was tasked by each director to assassinate the other. Perhaps it was a tad unwise to pin so much responsibility on someone who went through the entire concert wearing bunny ears.
Shrimp Me, a duo of Yeo Xi Jie and Esmond Tan, performed Going Where The Wind Blows by Mr Big before segueing into an intermission where audience members were invited to cast votes to determine which director Fanny would kill off.
Of the overarching storyline of two directors vying for control over one show, Maehanyi F. Rajendram (13S03Q) said she enjoyed the unique concept as usually charity concerts did not bother with such extra frippery. However, this reviewer has some doubts about the execution as she felt it soon debilitated into a series of untidily strung together cheap shots (albeit very well-received cheap shots) revolving around tired subject matter—Indians, BGRs, and your mother. The male director’s acting was slightly over-the-top while Fanny’s behaviour got a bit cloying at times.
The emcees had to footnote each performance with an approving remark, which we felt perhaps detracted slightly from the concept—where is the fun in watching auditions where everybody is good and the judges do not tear down contestants? Just a stray thought.
As 8–year-old Olivia Yeo ambled tentatively onstage clutching her child-sized violin, replete in Mary-Janes and white stockings, the group of boys sitting behind us, slightly to the right cooed “Ahhhhh… damn cute”, while another male duo in front of us contributed enthusiastically, “That girl damn cute! Damn cute sia!” We must confess their reactions had us a little concerned. She’s too young for you, guys.
Selina Tang and Samuel Ang supported her through You Raise Me Up (fitting) on the violin and keyboard respectively. The latter duo also performed Por Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel, an exciting piece which got so intense at one point that the sound system could not handle them; Samuel’s keyboard became unresponsive for half a minute, the AV crew having accidentally turned it off, possibly while in a state of stupefied awe induced by the performance.
Mock Yuan Bing performed an enjoyable rendition of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People with her powerful voice, ending off her set with Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, but the atmosphere heightened even more when the next act was announced to be Sammy Dee and Toh Yi Fan, the Singaporean Rapper. They came onstage to much applause and performed Nigahiga’s Nice Guys and Jessie J’s Price Tag with ease. Sammy Dee also obliged the cheering male audience with Hot Problems, originally by Double Take, while Yi Fan gamely ad-libbed an accompanying rap.
Raffles Rock was also represented at the concert by a cobbled-together quintuplet consisting of Hansel Tantohari and Jonathan Lee on vocals, Stephanie Yeap on vocals and guitar, Chia Yaim Chong on guitar and Ernest Tan on the cajon. They opened their set with Somebody That I Used to Know, originally by Gotye, followed by Wherever You May Go by The Calling. Stephanie showed her voice off in That’s What You Get by Paramore while Jonathan delivered the last song, Young the Giant’s Cough Syrup, by sounding like he was thoroughly in need of some, in the usual husky style that he is known for. It is worth pointing out that his voice sounds the same whether he is sick or not and he just permanently seems to be having particularly tuneful sore throats.
Zhang Ningxin, a member of COMMA, then came onstage to share with us more about their project and how funds raised would be put to use in Cambodia. The night ended on a high note with a rousing spontaneous encore of Justin Bieber’s Baby by Sammy Dee, the Singaporean Rapper and Raffles Rock while members of COMMA and Max Ko performed the Awkward Palm Tree in the background.
Overall, the show was refreshing in many ways, from the largely non-Rafflesian lineup (with the exceptions being Selina Tang and Raffles Rock) to the sale of Lao Ban bean curd – which we found a welcome reprieve from the standard bubble tea. The size of the audience was undeservedly small, given the talent on display that night; possibly the lure of the concurrent guitar concert at the UCC had been too strong to contend with. Even so, we look forward to COMMA’s subsequent fundraising efforts; here’s wishing them all the best with their project.
Errata: Going Where The Wind Blows is by Mr Big and not The Calling as previously stated, while Rock performed Wherever You May Go by The Calling as their second song. Thank you to Joceline and Matthew respectively for raising these mistakes.