No one can catch me, ‘cos I’m The Gingerbread Man.
Famous last words, as we know it, from the fairytale about the spoilt, rambunctious child-cookie who makes a game about running away from a slew of animals and his “parents”, the Old Man and the Old Woman.
I Theatre’s third and latest rendition of the beloved story is loads of fun, with new costumes and oodles of fun.
Ginger Gets a Sympathy Vote
On paper, Ginger is awfully bratty and seems entirely deserving of his ending (spoiler alert – the fox eats him up). But I Theatre’s Gingerbread Man is rather endearing, and not as easy to dislike.
In Little Day Out’s earlier backstage interview with actor Hang Qian Chou, who has played the lead character since the first instalment, we had an inkling that Ginger was going to grate on our nerves. You know, the loud, self-centred child who thinks that he is invincible, and making a really big deal out of it.
But Qian Chou’s Gingerbread Man is cute as a button – and loveable, even.
So much so that you start feeling sorry halfway through the 50-minute show on opening day, because you know how it ends for the petulant pastry.
Something for the Kids
The songs are high energy and keep the little ones riveted. An interactive treat for the kids, I Theatre’s The Gingerbread Man clearly plays to the joyful shouts of the little ones in the audience.
“He’s there! Behind you!” the kids try really hard to help the animals catch ahold of the zippy Gingerbread Man.
“No, there! Turn around!” followed by plenty of giggles from the helpful audience.
Our little two-year-old (the show is meant for kids three years old and older) was captivated by all the song and dance scenes. Not so much the dialogue, naturally, which engaged the older kids.
The set and props are vibrant and larger-than-life, full of bright colours that hold the interest of the children.
Something for the Adults
There were also chuckles all around for the adults in the audience. Little insider nudge-nudge-wink-winks at husband-wife dynamics.
“Doing dishes isn’t very fun, I don’t want to do it,” says the lazy Old Man to his industrious wife the Old Woman. A nod to Jo Tan, the actress who plays the Old Woman – her prim-and-proper speech, replete with the wavering lilt of an old woman, and strong singing vocals made the character shine.
Power-up: Masks for the Show
This season’s show includes a new upgrade – brand-new costumes for all the animal characters.
Moving away from the puppets of the past two seasons, director Brian Seward wanted something different that would allow the actors to express themselves easily – and with their whole bodies.
Animal masks were the answer. The show’s six detailed, pliable face masks – from the dainty Cat to the wily Fox – made by US mask maker Nakupelle cost up to $500 each.
And they were worth every penny.
The characters came to life as the actors used their bodies to bring out the characteristics of the animal they were playing. Cat was graceful and had a meow-y speaking voice, while Fox was confident and dominant, speaking with a velvety lilt that you shouldn’t trust. Duck was quacky and stocky, and frankly, the bumbling fowl you would expect the animal to be. And Horse was burly and big – but gentle, and no match for Gingerbread Man.
The only puppet onstage is the Gingerbread Man, and there are two of them. One big, one small.
Also, the actor plays the main scenes in person, with a ginger-coloured suit and hat.
High-octane Fun for the Family
Highly physical and mostly wacky fun, The Gingerbread Man played well to the cosy space of Jubilee Hall. Watch this with your child if he likes a cheery, boisterous crowd that interacts with the actors onstage – and, well, if he likes cookies.
We ended up liking Ginger a bit too much, and were rather sorry to see him go.
Having a ginger cookie with warm milk right now, to make ourselves feel better.
Catch The Gingerbread Man
Date: 20 May to 7 June 2015
Venue: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel
Recommended for: 3 to 13 year olds and families
Duration: 50 minutes with no interval