In spite of the pandemic, local leading theatre company Wild Rice has pulled through and presented a robust 2021 season, presenting works from Pooja Nansi’s You Are Here, a re-run of Pam Oei’s Faghag, and their 2021 Young & Wild graduating show.
Now, they’re ending off their 2021 season with the triumphant return of their annual year end musical, with the premiere of Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach. As its name suggests, Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach adapts the beloved Japanese folktale of the same name, and follows on in Wild Rice almost two decade-long tradition of performing Christmas pantomimes, since 2003’s Cinderel-LAH!. Most recently, they had to postpone last year’s originally planned production due to the pandemic.
“We know how heartbreaking that decision was for so many people – the young and the young at heart – who look forward to celebrating the holiday season with Wild Rice every year,” says Ivan Heng, Founding Artistic Director of Wild Rice. “So, in spite of all the challenges, we have defiantly pressed on, pulling out all the stops to present a brand-new, home-grown musical. True to form, we’ve reimagined a classic folk tale with a twist, taking on the climate crisis with humour and heart. Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach is our made-in-Singapore vaccination against the gloom and doom, and a much-needed injection of inspiration, joy and hope.”
In Wild Rice’s version of the classic tale, audiences will meet Momotaro, a young boy who has spent his entire life on the idyllic Peach Paradise. But when a wave of pollution engulfs the island, Momotaro must go on a quest to save them all. With the help of three animal companions – Aiko, the Shiba Inu; Yuki, the Snow Monkey; and Hiroto, the Crane, can they defeat the wicked President Oni and his sly henchman, Kit?
“Our hero is constantly on a mission to do his best to do better, and to help others around him,” says playwright and assistant director Dwayne Lau, whom audiences might recognise from his scene-stealing performances in several Wild Rice pantomimes. “He demonstrates that a little kindness goes a long way, and that’s the spirit we need now more than ever in these difficult pandemic/endemic times.”
The musical also bravely tackles one of the most pressing issues of the day: climate change. “We are witnessing the effects of climate change here in Singapore too – from sudden heavy rainfall and flash floods, to increasingly hot and humid weather,” observes Lau. “We hope audiences will be inspired by Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach to think about what we can all do to help save and sustain our environment – for ourselves, and for future generations.”
As a proudly Asian theatre company, Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach is the latest holiday musical from Wild Rice to look to the East for inspiration, following in the footsteps of Monkey Goes West (2014, 2016), Mama White Snake (2017) and The Amazing Celestial Race (2021), all of which re-imagined classic Chinese folktales for the Singapore stage. “I have always loved the story of Momotaro, and I love Japan too,” explains director Glen Goei, who is also Co-Artistic Director of Wild Rice. “It’s been great fun working with Dwayne and our creative team on this show, thinking up new ways to celebrate the Japanese influences in our lives – from anime, J-pop and traditional Japanese fan dancing, to popular video games like Pokémon and Street Fighter.”
Creating eye-popping new ways to dazzle audiences within Wild Rice’s theatre is no easy feat, but Goei believes the effort will be worth it. “We have all spent the last two years grounded by the pandemic, with limited opportunities for escape and adventure,” says Goei. “We hope this show transports audiences into another world, if only for two hours – we want them to have a super entertaining and jolly good time at the theatre!”
Starring Ryan Ang as Momotaro, with Audrey Luo, Siti Khalijah Zainal, Vester Ang, Greg Sim and Sharon Sum, get ready for a musical, heartfelt celebration reminding us all of the power of family, friendship and community, as Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach comes to life onstage this holiday season.
Photo Credit: Wild Rice
Momotaro and the Magnificent Peach runs from 25th November 2021 at Wild Rice @ Funan. Tickets will be available from 18th October 2021 from SISTIC.