Review: Chicken Little by SRT’s The Little Company

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The school holidays are fast approaching, and SRT’s The Little Company triumphantly presents Chicken Little, a fantastic new musical brought to you by the same brilliant minds behind SRT’s Red Riding Hood and Treasure Island, adapting the classic folk tale for a joyous new adventure for audiences of all ages.

Directed by Kate Golledge, Chicken Little tells the familiar tale of a cowardly little chicken as she steels her chicken heart and goes on a journey to warn the king of impending doom when she thinks the sky is falling. Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s script is smart yet completely accessible to the many young students in the audience today, with a winsome heroine and a charming band of fine-feathered friends, while deftly playing with surprisingly delightful poultry related puns, always inspiring with its message of taking courage and the power of friendship easily evoked by the simple yet completely captivating storyline.

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SRT has never been one to scrimp on production value, and is no doubt one of Chicken Little’s greatest strengths. As the curtains go up, audiences are immediately drawn in by the elaborately painted set by Susannah Henry, as well as her colourful costumes donned by the chicken brood. Visually arresting from start to end, over the course of its one hour runtime, audiences will bear witness to a rushing river in the form of a flowing blue cloth and a fully constructed palace facade, complete with bell and working doors and windows, in addition to other theatrically brilliant visual wonders. Set changes are extremely smooth, taking place during musical numbers and using Gabriel Chan’s lighting to allow audiences to keep their focus on the cast’s choreographed movements while they transform the stage from farmhouse to forest while Lee Yew Jin’s (Ctrl Fre@k) sound design adds a layer of depth to the atmosphere.

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A lot of thought has obviously gone into Henry’s costumes, which brim with youthful energy and are clearly influenced by various eras, giving them a timeless fairytale quality. The chickens, for example, ‘fly’ by whizzing around the stage on wheeled Heelys shoes, while a trio of hens backing up Cocky Locky in a solo number strongly resemble flappers from the 1920s, and Henry’s costumes truly encapsulates the essence of each of these animals without being too literal. Occasionally, well constructed puppets also make an appearance, whether it’s a chorus of singing flowers or a British mouse guarding the palace gates, adding to the whimsical nature of the entire show.

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Writers Brunger and Cleary’s music and lyrics are catchy and filled with witty rhymes, and would not feel out of place on Broadway or West End, utilising refrains and repetition throughout to fully integrate the entire soundtrack. Arranged by Jennifer Green and directed by Joanne Ho, the music of Chicken Little soars with hope, and one would even be compelled to completely buy into their message with their infectious energy and winsome spirit. Choreographer Seong Hui Xuan’s dance moves, while seemingly simple, have obviously been well rehearsed by the cast, and only add to the childlike innocence and ebullient attitude adopted by their characters, always interesting to watch, be it the fun opening number, or the faux ballet performed by the cast in an escape plot.

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And of course, it’s really the cast members that make the show what it is and bring life to these characters. Playing the lead of Chicken Little is Alyssa Lie, whose gorgeous voice captures the innocence and debilitating fear in her character before transforming with the character’s growth from paranoid chick to brave fowl. Dwayne Lau is hilarious as the aptly named Cocky Locky, always managing to squeeze in a laugh out loud one liner as he proudly struts around the stage, while Ann Lek manages to sensitively portray the potentially divisive disabled character of Ducky Daddles, a literal lame duck, complete with a lisp, and wields her crutches with aplomb while filling her character with a can do spirit and relentlessly positive attitude. Crenshaw Yeo has one of the stronger voices within the cast, and did a fantastic job in his key number as Turkey Lurkey, crisp and clear in his delivery. Finally, a show is never complete without its villain, and Natalie Yeap successfully brings out the vixen in Foxy Loxy, indulging in her character’s inherent sultry nature in a fun tango number, while also showcasing her versatility as Chicken Little’s loving mother, and brings an air of royalty to her performance as The King.

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Just because it’s based off a popular children’s fable, don’t knock this production of Chicken Little; this is quality musical theatre at its finest, with high production value and is incredibly enjoyable for both kids and adults alike. Chicken Little is all the proof you need to see that children’s theatre has as much potential as other shows when given the proper treatment and respect, and as an audience member, is a welcome burst of sunshine guaranteed to start off anyone’s morning on a good note. Chicken Little is the perfect show to bring the whole family down to this school holiday, and will no doubt put a big smile on your face and have your kids singing and clapping along and enthralled with the magic of theatre.

Photo Credit: Singapore Repertory Theatre

Performance attended 26/10/17 (10am)

Chicken Little plays at the KC Arts Centre from 25th October to 8th December. Tickets available from SISTIC

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