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One of Singapore’s best musicals returns to the Esplanade after 11 years

Kit Chan will be reprising her role

By Adam Kerr | May 24, 2017

  • One of Singapore’s best musicals returns to the Esplanade after 11 years
    Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress

After its original staging in 2002, followed by two more sold-out runs in 2003 and 2006, Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) and Esplanade are bringing back Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress, which will run from Aug 8-20.

Back in 2002, the Esplanade’s official opening was rife with skepticism from arts practitioners and the public alike, with many questioning how it would work as an arts venue, and if the design was a little too avant-garde for the average Singaporean. But the guys behind the Esplanade pushed on and took a "show, don’t tell" approach to win back the hearts of Singaporeans by ensuring that the opening festival line-up would appeal to them. Forbidden City was among the many well-received, exciting programs, and saw over 100,000 tickets sold.

The musical has everything it takes to tell a genuinely moving, albeit epic story, from the depth and internal struggles of each character and storyline, right down to the intricate details of the costume and set designs. In a nutshell, Forbidden City tells the story of the legendary Empress Dowager of China, and her trials and tribulations she goes through, only to become a victim of lies and rumors, earning her the name "The Dragon Lady". Cunning plans, deaths of royal members and the desire for power are just some of the many elements that make up the story, so if you like watching or reading Game of Thrones, then this might just be up your alley.

Featuring the music by Cultural Medallion recipient Dick Lee, Forbidden City will see local singer Kit Chan reprising her role as the heroic Empress Dowager Cixi, with Cheryl Tan playing the younger version of the Empress Dowager, the Emperor’s imperial concubine known as Yehenara. London’s West End star Earl Carpenter (Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera) takes up the role as English journalist George Morrison while Broadway actress Stephanie Leigh (Mary Poppins, Les Miserables) becomes the Kate Carl, the American artist who paints the portrait. Sebastian Tan (Broadway Beng), Juni Goh and Life! Theatre Award winner Benjamin Chow also make up the stellar cast.

Tickets are priced from $38 via Esplanade’s website

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