It’s been a LONG time since we last experienced live entertainment in Singapore, much less a full-blown theatrical performance, complete with international cast, live band and yes, live audience. In fact, there hasn’t been one since the Circuit Breaker happened last April. So when we heard that the Olivier award-winning spectacular La Clique was making its debut at the Marina Bay Sands, we jumped at the chance to catch it ourselves. All in the name of helping you mums and dads decide if you should bring the kids, of course *ahem*.
La Clique Checks All the Boxes
We were not disappointed in the least. Heart-stopping drama — check. Cheeky humour — check. Alluring acts — check. Glitz, glamour, danger, and mystery — check, check, check, and check! La Clique is billed as a unique blend of circus, comedy, and contemporary cabaret, set to a thrilling soundtrack. And it certainly delivers.
Since its first launch in 2004, La Clique has performed to sold-out audiences in cities worldwide. From Edinburgh to New York, Melbourne to Montreal, the groundbreaking show has tickled, teased, and titillated theatre-goers everywhere it went. But we wondered, would it be too risqué for the Singapore audience? And children?
Fast-forward to 21 September 2021. It was 11am and sunny outside, when we were ushered into a darkened venue at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre to witness a few headlining acts stage-side ahead of the actual performance later that evening. And while we don’t want to give away too much of the magic, we did capture a few highlights for the ‘gram 👇
Talents on Show
What you won’t see on stage, however, is what these talented artists have gone through to get here. The past 18 months have been rough on everyone, but the theatre industry has been one of the hardest hit. When the cast members and production team later shared their thoughts in a Q&A session, the emotions were palpable.
Cirque du Soleil alumni Oscar “Bath Boy” Kaufmann talked about how he kept his rock-hard abs in shape during lockdowns. The skilful aerialist gathered with friends via Zoom for virtual group workouts from their homes. It started out being just “weird and new”, he revealed, but as time passed, it got downright depressing.
He’s glad to be back on stage, in his signature bathtub, which we learn was acquired locally. Apparently, the La Clique production has bathtubs stashed in cities from Brighton to Sydney!
Dubbed the queen of punk cabaret, the outrageous Bernie Dieter is almost intimidating when she’s doing her thing. She blends dangerously funny original songs with unabashedly deviant wit designed to stun, amuse, and seduce. But under the massive faux fur coat she struts on stage is an artist who thrives on human connection.
While some of her artistic license has been curtailed by safe-distancing regulations — that means the laps of hapless males in the audience are off-limits, she’s relishing the chance to lock eyes with real audiences again at last.
Sidenote: We also love how the Mistress of Mayhem replaces the master of ceremonies you typically find in conventional circuses. Kudos to La Clique for breaking that boundary!
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Another stereotype-smasher is Coney Island Circus Sideshow graduate, Heather Holliday. Her vintage pin-up girl looks and small frame belie her penchant for danger. In fact, she earned the title of world’s youngest female sword swallower when she was just a teenager.
Taking on a role typically dominated by males in a world where “females were usually seen as magicians’ assistants or snake-charmers”, this fiery lady had lots to prove. Today her skillset also encompasses fire-breathing. And after seeing (and feeling) her acts up close, rest assured it’s all for real!
And these are just some of the highlights. There are a total of 17 acts in the 90-minute performance, including trapeze dancer Elke Udh, balloon showgirl J’aiMime, hula hoop queen Lisa Lottie, and whirling duo-on-wheels, The Skating Willers. Backed by a four-piece band, three of whom are accomplished local musicians, the action never stops.
Resilience and Reinvention
Amazing as the acts are, it is also humbling to learn how much effort it’s taken to deliver the show. It was postponed four times — imagine the disappointment of the cast and crew each time. It is only due to the tenacity of Sliding Doors Entertainment that it is finally being staged here in Singapore, in collaboration with Unusual Entertainment and Marina Bay Sands.
La Clique is usually much more interactive, with artistes mingling with the audience, coming and going from all corners. Show director David Bates shares that it’s been a challenge to break down barriers while adhering to Covid protocols. On the flip side, he says, this Singapore run is an invaluable blueprint for the future. It paves the way for their next stop, London.
So is La Clique Suitable for Children?
Officially, kids as young as four years old are welcome to the show, although children 12 years and below must be accompanied by an adult. Unofficially, we agree. The show has definitely been toned down to suit local tastes or to cast the audience net wider. And while we wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘family-friendly’, it easily gets a PG rating.
The young ones will definitely enjoy the comedy and be wowed by the acrobatic acts. They might even be inspired to reach for the stars themselves. However, if you’re a parent of a little monkey or two, you might want to reiterate the above message 👆