Wild Rice’s latest show is a jaunty musical about your childhood folk tale

Starring Glen Goei and Ivan Heng as celestial snake sisters

It’s been 15 years of Wild Rice’s annual holiday musicals—this Nov 24, the local theater company is staging an original production based off a treasured Chinese folk story, which will bring veterans Glen Goei and Ivan Heng together onstage for the first time.

Written by resident playwright Alfian Sa’at, Mama White Snake is a playful retelling of the ancient Chinese folk tale Madam White Snake. The story goes that a powerful white snake spirit transforms into a beautiful woman and falls in love with a human, following which an evil monk does everything he can to break the lovers up. While the Wild Rice version does stay largely “true to the spirit of the original story”, Sa’at adds that the musical will introduce new perspectives and ideas, in telling the tale through a young man who suffers an identity crisis when he learns the truth about his mother and her best friend.

The titular characters are played by local thespians Glen Goei and Ivan Heng, as the White Snake and Green Snake respectively. The production, directed by Pam Oei, marks Goei’s return to the Singapore stage after 30 years, since his last appearance in M. Butterfly in 1987. Expect original songs by composer Elaine Chan and choreography courtesy of Andy Benjamin Cai, in an extravagant show of theatrics by our island’s best. In addition, more than 20 children, aged 5 to 12, from Wild Rice’s young talent programme will play roles singing, dancing and performing wushu stunts.

And it isn’t just song and dance in Mama White Snake. To play tribute to the strength and fighting spirit of the sister snakes in the tale, the show includes dynamic martial arts and acrobatic sequences, as well as sword fights straight out of a Chinese period drama. Call us demanding, but we’re fervently hoping there'll be people flying across the stage too.

Mama White Snake runs Nov 24-Dec 16 at the Drama Centre Theatre, National Library, and tickets are available here