Review: Red Riding Hood in Mandarin

SRT's The Little Company's Red Riding Hood

“Always take the main road. Don’t veer from it…” Mum reminded Red Riding Hood again and again in the eponymous musical, presented in Mandarin.

While this was good advice for Little Red, venturing from the original storyline has proven to be an excellent move by SRT’s The Little Company.

The refreshed plot kept the audience glued to the stage and provided fodder for humorous interactions between the main characters and well-choreographed song and dance numbers.

All that would already have made a fun outing to the theatre for my six-year-old and me, but there was more in store: a twist that started brewing near the end!

A joyful opening number set at the family bakery managed by Red Riding Hood’s parents.
A joyful opening number set at the family bakery managed by Red Riding Hood’s parents.

Red Riding Hood made such an impression on my Mandarin-challenged little one (who enjoyed every bit of the musical despite not being able to understand all the words) that she requested we take her to The Little Company’s next musical, Chicken Little! (She saw it advertised on the programme booklet.)

Seamless Adaptation to Mandarin

Kudos to the Chinese adaptation team of Danny Yeo and Zhang Lesheng for enabling the musical to be staged in Mandarin so naturally. The dialogues were great, and the songs sounded good with Chinese lyrics.

There was even an effort to add some local flavours, with a mention of the Nasi Lemak Burger and the usage of a few English words. (For those who are purists, don’t worry! These words were only used for comic effect and to endear the production to the local audience. The musical was performed in perfect Mandarin.)

Memorable Performances from the Cast

The cast put in strong performances to bring the script to life.

Ric Liu stood out with his dramatic turn as the Wolf, switching effortlessly from a sweet-talking charmer to a ferocious killer to achieve his “dining” goals. With his solid vocals and wicked sense of comic timing, Ric endeared himself to the audience and elicited much laughter from everyone including the kids.

Ric Liu’s Wolf charming Red Riding Hood into stepping off from the main road.
Ric Liu’s Wolf charming Red Riding Hood into stepping off from the main road.
Story continues below...

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Sugie Phua (the forgetful Woodcutter) and Sharon Sum (Red Riding Hood) had great chemistry onstage, feeding on each other’s energy to bring a playful edge to the show.

Sugie Phua and Sharon Sum were a delight to watch as they sang and danced into our hearts.
Sugie Phua and Sharon Sum were a delight to watch as they sang and danced into our hearts.

Balancing the dramatic characters of the Wolf, Woodcutter, and Red Riding Hood were Eleanor Tan and Katherine Tang, who put in more subtle performances as Grandma and Mum respectively.

Together, the team was able to draw the audience into the musical. There was never a dull moment, and kids and adults alike were immersed in the emotions of the musical.

Beautiful Music, Creative Set and Lighting

The music was a great help in setting the mood. From a ballad to a jazzy number and a rousing quartet, the songs were skillfully performed. Vocals were stellar, with flawless harmony, and the dance segments were perfectly choreographed to flow naturally into each scene.

I also liked the set design, which was beautifully crafted, with clever hidden mechanisms that had me going “how did they do that?” Creative lighting also had a part to play in conjuring up this “magic”. I’m still trying to figure out how Grandma “disappeared” into the Wolf’s tummy!

Cultivating a Love for the Chinese Language

This was the first time I had brought my child to a Mandarin production, and I was surprised how much she enjoyed it. For most of the one hour of the show, she was sitting at the edge of her seat, captivated by the action. This, from a child who doesn’t really speak Mandarin!

Thanks to the good start we had with Red Riding Hood, I’ll be bringing her to more Chinese productions in the future to inculcate a love and appreciation for the Chinese language in her.

The way has been paved. And we’ll be happy to stick to it.

Red Riding Hood will be playing till 1 September 2017 at KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT.
Recommended for 5-year-olds and up.
Tickets are available from SISTIC.

Media Invite by SRT’s The Little Company.
Images courtesy of SRT.  

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