Singapore’s drag queen of comedy still reigns supreme.
Kumar is synonymous with the Singapore drag scene. There’s rarely been any doubt as to who Kumar is – raunchy, fabulous, and entertaining as heck. So it may come as a surprise that Singapore’s foremost and favourite drag queen’s new show is all about staking his claim and spelling out his identity in no uncertain terms, with Dream Academy’s I Am Kumar.
Performed at the Capitol Theatre, the first thing we see from the moment the curtains open up are the lush LED screens that covered the stage, helping signal the show’s aim to dazzle us with a no-holds barred performance. Together with his four dancers (Hafeez Hassan, Phiz Nasrudin, Syazwan Rahmad and Gino), Kumar starts off strong, showing off what he’s capable of, with a ‘Kumar-sutra’. Almost akin to a goddess, fully bronzed and shiny under the lights, he lipsyncs to “I Just Want To Dance” in a rousing, energetic number choreographed by Gino himself, to get the audience all revved up for the night ahead.
From cracking a joke about how despite being vaccinated, it does not mean he is protected, to how even his dogs Oreo and Cookie have grown bored of him at home, Kumar makes it clear his topical style of humour and wit is as sharp as it’s ever been, with insightful observations about the pandemic. Even though we’re masked up, Kumar still encourages us to laugh as loud as we want, and even taught us how we could continue to interact while safely distanced. The result? Even more laughs, when Kumar comments we end up sounding like his vibrator.
Moving on, Kumar almost becomes some kind of guru, as he cheekily advises us how to best utilise our Singapore ReDiscover vouchers and maximise our government handouts. As Kumar lets his four dancers take the limelight, they launch into the headbang-inducing “Bad Boys”, almost symbolic of how Kumar himself has been such a renegade all these years. Ironically, when he reappears, he dons a Sailor Moon-style sailor fuku outfit, the quintessential ‘good girl’, as he and his dancers perform Bernadette Peters’ “I Got The Sun In The Morning”.
Even with his years of experience in the entertainment scene, Kumar knows he has to keep up with the times, and shares about his experiences on TikTok, and the ridiculous videos they made online and the need to keep up with trends. Oddly enough, he raises a topic few would likely have heard of in recent years – reality television show Singapore Idol, and how most alumni have failed…save for the infamous one singing birthday songs and taking requests during the circuit breaker period.
Performing Paula Abdul’s ‘Will You Marry Me?’ with his dancers makes for a thematic transition to talking about online dating. Considering himself more a ‘brick and mortar’ type of man, he introduces the audience to the process of setting up a Grindr profile, and the many choices of ‘tribes’ one might find themselves in. And of course, no talk about dating would be complete without discussing where it leads – Kumar’s dream wedding.
With Gemelle Kessler’s “The Lady In The Tutti Frutti Hat”, the boys return for the ‘banana dance’, now decked out completely in bananas – and who doesn’t love some nice big bananas? Gino’s choreography was quirky and a whole lot of fun, bringing out the best in his dancers, and plenty of laughs from the audience. Fruits then, are the next topic of the evening, from coconuts (brown on the outside and white on the inside), to chikus (brown both inside and outside). Kumar continues to shed light on societal issues, this time on midlife crises, and how various Singaporeans deal with it. From middle-aged gym bunnies to lycra-wearing cycling uncles, to Singaporeans suddenly becoming incredibly superstitious and suspiciously touchy about anything and everything.
All that leads to the crux of the show – at the end of it all, mid-life crisis or not, Kumar is still Kumar, proud of who he is and how far he’s come. Part of that proof comes from the full house of audience in the theatre, with Kumar incredibly thankful for his fans having supported him over the years, still wanting more of him, and appreciating him all this time. With director George Chan at the helm, each and every person in the space is given the freedom to fully express their skills and personality, and show off the best and truest versions of themselves on stage.
Kumar leaves us with one crucial piece of advice, revealing the hidden acronym in his name – be Kind to yourself, stay Unapologetic as to who you are, be aware that people might Misunderstand you, stay Atas, and be a Rockstar. The result? Be like Kumar, and live a life that’s true to yourself and without regrets.
As Kumar struts out onstage in his final outfit – a Barbie Doll-like dress that suggests we too can take inspiration from Kumar’s zest for life and endless optimism. Photos of Kumar’s past gigs float on by during the last song, reminding us of the many faces of Kumar, always a professional through and through. This is a drag queen who walks to the beat of his own drum, knows exactly who he is, and knows the sheer value and unparalleled impact this superstar’s had on our entertainment scene.
I Am Kumar runs till 23rd May 2021 at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets available from BookMyShow
*Due to the changing COVID-19 situation, ticketholders throughout the rest of the run in May will be personally contacted by Dream Academy staff.
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