If there was ever any doubt of local actress Mina Kaye’s capabilities, then attending her live concert would have dispelled them all; even three months pregnant, Mina puts on a showstopper of a performance in Mina Kaye – Live In Concert that marks her as a true professional.
Directed by Sight Lines Entertainment artistic director Derrick Chew, as part of the company’s 10th anniversary, the performance marks a much-awaited follow-up from Mina’s last sold-out concert gig in 2014. 8 years on, armed with an MFA in Musical Theatre from Boston Conservatory, even more shows on her resume, and still as humble as ever, Mina Kaye returned to play an even bigger crowd at the Drama Centre Theatre, in a celebratory concert that shows off the best of her abilities.
Mina Kaye – Live In Concert essentially acts as a series of greatest hits, with Mina performing some of her favourite pieces she’s done (or hasn’t yet done) across her career. Beginning with a quick warm-up from the band led by music director and Mina’s long-time friend Joanne Ho (and comprising Daniel Chai, Brandon Wong and Ramu Thiruyanam), Mina arrives onstage in an intricately embroidered, glittering green gown, all smiles and high energy as she starts off with ‘Let Me Entertain You’ from Gypsy.
Throughout the set, Mina feels friendly, approachable and earnestly genuine as she talks about the backstory behind each of the songs she sings. Take for example how she recalls winning the role of Rapunzel in Dream Academy’s 2011 production, and pre-empts the audience for her return in Pangdemonium’s 2023 production – except this time, she’s playing the Witch, before performing ‘No One Is Alone’ from Into the Woods. And beyond just having a powerful voice, Mina is also known for her impressions, and performs her YouTube hit Portrait of a Princess (In A Disney Way), showing off her Disney-ready voice along with her comedic chops in the suggestive and laugh-out-loud number.
Mina isn’t alone in this concert however, and in fact, uses it to platform and spotlight some of her closest friends and fellow performers in the industry. Dancer Seong Hui Xuan is the first guest of the night, with Mina recalling how the two of them used to do annoying Spongebob and Squidward voices with each other, earning Hui Xuan the endearing nickname ‘Spongie’. After given a chance to show off her vocal chops in ‘Come To Your Senses’ (from Tick, Tick…Boom!), they’re joined by Malaysian vocalist Peter Ong, who starred with both Hui Xuan and Mina in Dream Academy’s 2012 production of ‘Company’, prompting all three to perform ‘You Could Drive A Person Crazy’. Peter even gets to reprise his role as Bobby with a rendition of ‘Being Alive’, before he and Mina live out their Waitress fantasy in the high-energy duet ‘Bad Idea’.
What happens next is what Mina considers ‘the Wicked segment’ of the concert, as she and Hui Xuan launch into ‘For Good’, before leaving Mina alone onstage again. Having never been in a production of Wicked, Mina imagines auditioning for the two lead roles, bringing us to the crowd-pleasers of the first half – ‘Popular’, where Mina brings her voice to a Kristin Chenoweth-like pitch. Of course, a Wicked segment wouldn’t be complete without ‘Defying Gravity’, and Mina puts her own spin on the musical theatre staple, showing off the strength of her vocal prowess by hitting every note and belt, and bringing the first half of the concert to a stunning close. Between the two, and partly because she’s in green, Elphaba seems to be the clear role for her if she’s ever cast in a future production.
Following a brief intermission, we’re back in the theatre again, where Mina, now in a stunning, silver-sequinned gown, is back to perform her famous ‘diva medley’. Calling back to her star-making role in Pangdemonium’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (2014), Mina does a stunning impersonation of some of the greatest divas in history, from Shirley Bassey to Barbra Streisand to Cilla Black. With a well-rehearsed series of quick changes, a single accessory and remarkable change in voice is all Mina needs to transform and embody the physicality of each of these divas, making for a powerful second act opener. Of course, with her recent critically-acclaimed turn in Pangdemonium’s End of the Rainbow, Mina can’t do a show without a couple of Judy Garland numbers, and she follows up the diva medley with a joyous ‘Judy Garland medley’, performing hits such as ‘The Trolley Song’ and ‘For Me And My Gal’. Mina also reveals that she made it through the entire run of the show about a month into her pregnancy, nigh impossible to tell onstage, and still maintaining the same vocal quality and demanding physicality of the role.
More guests are on the way, as Mina introduces Tiara Yap, a former student/mentee of hers now known for her involvement in SGAG, The Second Breakfast Company, and hinting at an upcoming role in a Mandarin musical by Toy Factory in 2023. Tiara gets the stage to herself as. she performs a parody of ‘I Know Things Now’ from Into the Woods, before Mina returns to perform ‘The Stepsisters’ Lament’ from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Next up on the guest list is Vanessa Kee, who Mina directed and co-starred in [title of show] earlier this year, with the two reprising one of the strongest numbers of the show – ‘Secondary Characters’.
Vanessa and Mina are interrupted mid-duet by yet another guest – the fabulous big-wigged, big-body-ody-odied Honey Gluttony of Honey Queen’s Burlesque, and the rare drag queen who can actually hold a note and sing. Honey gets a solo number in the form of Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ (from Grease), and wows with her vocal range, charm and sheer energy she puts into the song. Mina and Honey then perform a genderqueer version of ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ from Rent, and the two perform it to aplomb as they riff off each other’s vibe and their shared sisterhood.
In the final number of the night, Mina ends strong with ‘You Gotta Have A Gimmick’ from Gypsy, a titillating burlesque number that balances both sexy and high camp, before allowing Hui Xuan and Honey to return to the stage, each with their own hilarious ‘gimmicks’ that leave the audience awestruck and laughing. As they take their final bows, the audience yells for an encore, and the cast obliges, getting the entire audience on their feet and grooving along to ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’.
Mina Kaye: Live In Concert is a testament to the lasting friendships Mina has made in the industry along the way, and the sheer raw talent she has moulded into becoming one of the best musical theatre actresses in Singapore. With a concert like this, Mina Kaye has proven that any show with her in it, is a guarantee of a good time, and that anyone who has come into contact with Mina will be blessed by her friendship and big heart.
Photo Credit: Sight Lines Entertainment
Mina Kaye: Live In Concert played on 18th November 2022 at the Drama Centre Theatre.
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