SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

May 2014

The Magic of Theatre for Kids

Mother, actress, host, and presenter extraordinaire Jacqueline Chow-Voo is a believer in the power of theatre and drama as a channel for children’s enrichment. She tells us why, here.

A couple of weeks back, E’s school arranged for an outing to watch SRT Little Company’s musical, Rapunzel. As someone involved in the arts, I was curious to see how my 21-month-old daughter would take to watching a play. I won’t deny that at the back of my mind, I did worry. Would she kick up a fuss when the lights went off, would she cry and insist I take her out, or be so scared that she’d cower and ask me to carry her?


My worries were completely unfounded. I amazed that my little active one was able to sit through 50 minutes (all by herself on her booster seat, with me beside her), absolutely captivated by the play. She was stretching her little neck from left to right to see the action happening onstage.

After the play, we went on a mummy-and-E coffee date. I sang the action song that was taught by the actors during the play and was pleasantly amused that she could bop along to it, and that she had remembered bits of the song’s accompanying gestures.

I spoke to her about the play and mentioned the camel, and she promptly signed to me “smelly” when I said that the camel had farted. Yes, when she comes across something smelly, she signs (she once signed “smelly” after an uncle carried her – but that’s another story).

The real surprise came the next morning. When I, out of fun, sang “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, please let down your hair”, E started to bend her head sideways, as if to let her hair cascade down, just like what the Rapunzel character had done in the play. I was stunned. No one taught her that. And yes, she repeated it again and again whenever I sang the song.


It’s been almost a month since we watched the play. Now she can kind of sing along to the action song, affectionately known as the “bee song”. She still does the letting down her hair action, and when we ask her “Who is Rapunzel?”, she points to herself.

If this example of the power of theatre isn’t enough, here’s another.

A week ago, I was given an opportunity to bring E to watch a full dress rehearsal of the musical If There’re Seasons (天冷就回来) by The Theatre Practice.

The back story – E is obsessed with a couple of songs from this musical. She goes “oooo” to let me know she wants to hear the songs (that is because in one of the songs, the singers go “oooo”). I probably never listened to the songs as much even when I was involved in the first run of this musical in 2007. Now, every day, we religiously play the songs.

The director, on hearing E’s obsession, kindly allowed me to bring E to watch a full run at the rehearsal space.

Imagine, in a rehearsal space with no air-conditioning, no lights or backdrop, the little one actually sat still for over an hour, watching the actors perform. Talk about a mother’s dream!

E collageL – E pretending to let down hew hair; R – E engrossed in watching the rehearsal

Even more spectacular: before the rehearsal, the actors were doing a breathing exercise. As the little one watched, I explained that they were breathing in and breathing out. That night, when I was giving her a bath, she suddenly said, “Beez out, beez out”. I was confused and asked, “What are you talking about?” She looked at me intently with her big round eyes and said, with hand actions, “Beez out, bees out”. Then it clicked. She was saying “breathe in, breathe out” along with the hand actions that the actors were doing earlier.

We should never underestimate what our children absorb, especially through theatre. I am a believer in the magic of theatre. There is research to support the positive impact that theatre has on a child’s development. Here are two articles detailing the benefits of exposing children to theatre:
Why Children’s Theatre Matters
Great Reasons to Take your Child to the Theatre

So let’s start bringing the kids to watch a play or two together. Here are some upcoming shows that you and your little ones can catch this month:

PLAYtime: Let’s Play Pretend – by Esplanade, Theatres by the Bay

8 – 15 May 2014
Titbit info: The Esplanade organises programmes for young audiences between the ages of 2 and 16 years old. Playtime for tots is targeted for ages 2 to 4.

Ace Festival 2014
Puss in Boots – by I Theatre
22 – 31 May 2014

Spot the Difference – by I Theatre
21 – 31 May 2014

SRT’s The Little Company and I Theatre both run children’s shows often and the quality of the shows and actors are pretty amazing.

For parents who want to expose their children to Mandarin, Theatre Practice’s education arm has Little Windmill Courses for children. All courses are conducted in Mandarin.

As parents, we all want our children to be creative, to cultivate curiosity, to fire their imagination. I can’t think of a more perfect way than through songs, dance and that dash of theatre magic.

Jacqueline Chow-Voo is a host, presenter, actress with a Masters degree that comes to nought when tackling matters of motherhood. Mum to a fiercely independent almost two-year-old girl whose cheekiness never fails to amuse and a yet-to-be named boy whose powerful kicks befit his birth zodiac of ‘horse’. Wife to a wonderful husband who constantly tickles her funny bone. Jacqueline is represented by Fly Entertainment.

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The Magic of Theatre for Kids