Bringing in a musical with strong commercial acclaim seems like a recipe for success, particularly when it’s backed up by veteran artistes such as Nancy Sit. Super Mommy is Resorts World Sentosa’s latest show on their lineup, flown in straight from Taiwan and retaining much of the original creative team. These include Taiwanese director Lang Tsu Yun and music director Huang Yun Ling, while the cast is almost entirely Singaporean, save for Taiwanese performer Luo Mei Ling.
In Super Mommy, our story follows a Singaporean dual-income family as they hire Indonesian helper Eny to assist with the household chores and take care of their dementia-suffering grandfather. Over the course of the play Eny’s goes from hired help to irreplaceable family member as they learn to overcome the difficulties of living as an intergenerational household and trust each other.
Super Mommy is led by strong performances from Luo Mei Ling as Eny, and Chriz Tong as a working mother. Both of them possess strong voices and commit fully to their roles to carry their characters throughout the show. Luo Mei Ling, in particular, does well to play her character’s Indonesian accent realistically, while bringing out a certain charm, making her protagonist worth rooting for. This is best seen as as she coaxes grandpa (Lin Youfa) to eat his medication with her winsome smile and can do attitude, a spring in every step. In another scene, Eny tugs at our heartstrings as she creates a makeshift tent for her young ward Jeremy when his father forgets to take him on a camping trip, endearing us to her further in one of the musical’s few genuinely emotional moments.
Meanwhile, Jaspers Lai, in a drag role as the family’s haughty former beauty queen grandmother, showcases explosive personality each time he steps onstage. His performance brings up the energy of the entire cast, and a few over the top antics even gave us plenty to laugh about. Even amongst the young child cast, Gisele Chiam Xinxuan stands out with her clear, confident voice, despite only being featured in one number in the second act.
There are moments where Super Mommy shows potential for greater plot and character development – the opening scene, for example, shows mother and grandmother fighting over whether a dish they’ve made is too salty or bland, each attempting to wrest matriarchal control over the other. But later on, when this scene is echoed in the second act, it is Eny’s presence and reliability that keeps the two calm and composed, showcasing her indispensability to the family’s togetherness. It’s one of the few instances that help contribute to the believability of the emotional ending scene, as Eny’s contract ends and the family comes together to genuinely cherish all that she’s done for them, and one wishes there was more of such developments built up over the course of the play to make that final scene more deserving of its emotional impact.
At the same time, Super Mommy possesses a number of issues with its scripting and execution. One understands that there is an intent to showcase the trials and tribulations of foreign workers and foreigners in Singapore, and this is emphasised with an affecting scene regarding a Vietnamese mail-order bride trapped in an abusive marriage. Though the scene makes sense in bringing the message across, it feels out of place due to the sudden way the character is introduced, and felt unnecessary. Other elements for improvement in Super Mommy included the sparse set that could have been more imaginative to really illustrate the story and mood. Although the team attempted to use projections to support the unimaginative set, these failed to create a strong atmosphere in each scene. In addition, slow set changes throughout the show contributed to multiple breaks in pacing, affecting how seamless the show could have potentially been.
Despite having a simple story that has the potential to bring out a familiar message of the importance of family, Super Mommy still requires further tightening on the part of director Huang Yun Ling to truly achieve that. As such, it is to the credit of the strong vocal performances from Luo Mei Ling and Chriz Tong, and an earnest, over the top drag role from Jaspers Lai, that this show still provides enough laughs and emotional moments to spend an evening watching with the family.
Photo Credit: Resorts World Sentosa
Performance attended 17/5/18
Super Mommy plays at the Resorts World Theatre till 22nd June 2018. Tickets available from RWS