Joining the Sisterhood

Sister Act The Musical

Come join the sisterhood

There is nothing I enjoy more than a night (or day) at the theatre. Musicals in particular have an appeal like no other. I swear I must have had some connection to the theatre in a previous life. Sadly I don’t think I was high kicking with Liza Minelli or serenading Michael Ball; probably more like running around polishing shoes or sewing sequins. So it is with much excitement that I have recently been talking to the company who bring all the best shows to our little red dot, Base Entertainment. Today I was fortunate enough to be invited to the press call for its latest show at the MasterCard theatre, MBS, Sister Act  – sequinned wimples and all.

Anyone too young to have watched the movie Sister Act needs to get themselves a couple of hours on the sofa right now as it’s a rare treat. Real old school comedy, fine female (and some male) actors and fabulous music. What more could you want? Obviously Whoopi Goldberg is forever associated with the film – but did you know it also featured Maggie Smith (pre Dame hood) and Harvey Keitel?

So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that a musical based on the film is also a must see. A huge hit from Broadway to the West End this production features the cast direct from the Broadway show. Obviously I’m not going to give too much away about what we were shown to say but suffice to say I’m more than a tad excited to be seeing the show.

From a 16ft tall Virgin Mary (with a not so dark side), to racks bursting with sparkling habits, our tour backstage was fascinating. Molly, the production stage manager showed us where she cues stage crew, audio and actors alike from left of stage (or right of stage if you are her as she has to do everything backwards) and the ‘God mike’ – for when things go wrong.

Gondola row – or wardrobe walk – was much smaller than I had imagined. This is the area where actors do quick changes. I can only imagine the swan like activity that goes on – with calm changes on the surface and utter panic underneath. I spotted a Wurlitzer (which looked original and I immediately coveted) bar stools upended, bottles of drink and glasses, Dolores coat and lots of slippers amongst many other gems. I can’t wait to see where they all feature in the show.

It was fascinating to hear how the sets, costumes, props, lighting and so on are all shipped around the world in five sea containers. How parts of the set are moved on and off stage and how the huge cast and crew work together to ensure the show is as good in one country as the next.

With shows as good as this hitting our shores I for one will make sure I’m supporting them – please go and do the same so this sister can carry on feeding her ‘habit.’

Look out for my Facebook post for my thoughts on the show itself.

Sister Act is on at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands from 9th – 28th May.

Costumes back stage

Watch out for the wimples!

Sister Act The Muscal

Part of the scenery

Props backstage

An original Wurlitzer?

Scenery, backstage at Sister Act the Musical, Singapore

A different view to usual

Wires, cables, musical

Can you imagine trying to find the fuse that blows in this lot?

Delores Sister Act Costume

You can never have too much fur and fringing – Delores costume.

Scenery, backstage at Sister Act the Musical, Singapore

She’s looking very virginal right now – but she has a hidden side. All 16ft of her!

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Not to be missed!

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Four Seasons

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The Four Seasons hotel is a luxury five-star hotel and home to the One-Ninety Bar which claims to offer “afternoon tea with a twist.” What’s the twist we wondered?

As we all gathered in the dimly lit bar ‘by’ Javier de las Muelas it felt as if we were there too early. Perhaps the creative partnership of Muelas serves its purpose well with martini’s flowing in the evening and a no doubt stylish crowd mingling amongst the spacious bar and outdoor area (they call this the Terraza). But, during the day it felt dark, heavy and too sombre.  This is possibly a bar best seen at night.

But there we were and afternoon tea is what we were after. The waitress gave us the menu and there was an impressive selection of teas to choose from. If you like fancy tea that is. For those of us who wanted a bog standard English Breakfast tea, or even an Earl Grey it seemed we were scuppered. Perhaps we should have opted for one of the amazing concoctions on offer; they certainly sounded delightful.

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We all agreed these teas sounded lovely, but were not what we wanted with our sandwiches and cakes.

But, following a small panic by my mum – who was visiting from the UK and would win any award for tea drinking there is – we managed to get a pot of perfectly acceptable English Breakfast tea. She was happy. The rest of the tea drinkers were fairly conservative in their choices too with Earl Grey being the most adventurous. The coffee drinkers were well catered for too with latte’s, cappuccino’s and flat whites readily available.

The traditional three-tiered stand was soon to arrive, carrying what looked like a delectable section of finger sandwiches, pastries and scones (oh or o, I don’t care!) There were salmon, cheese, ham and egg sandwiches to choose from. Nothing amazing in the fillings and not really what you’d expect from a five-star hotel but they tasted fine so no complaints.

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The tiered stand looked very pretty with its glass cups of strawberry mousse perched on top and macaroons nestled next to tiny little chocolate and raspberry bites, as well as some quirky champagne flute shaped cookies. There were also some rather large cupcakes brimming with fondant.

Of course the obligatory – in our opinion – scones were there with small dishes of clotted cream and jam to accompany them. It all looked pretty good.

But, and it’s a but that needs to be butted.

It all looked lovely. But tasted – meh!

Nothing blew any of us away. The macaroons were ok; they had a nice pistachio taste but were no deal breaker. The mousse was pretty bland, the chocolate and raspberry bites IMG_2347had those awful silver balls on top that you find on kids cakes that can break your teeth. The cupcakes were all show really. Even the champagne flute cookies weren’t particularly tasty. In fact, the icing on top also smacked of a children’s party. Again, not what you’d expect from a five-star hotel. The scones were ok, not too dry and had some fruit inside, but nowhere near enough jam or cream is provided. In fact, had we not all been such a polite bunch, a fight could have broken out over who had too much cream.

According to the website there is a show pantry “with a variety of exquisite pastries.” We weren’t told about or shown this and certainly didn’t get offered anything from anywhere else. We were also not offered more than one pot of tea, which is poor. Although had we asked, I’m sure they would have accommodated. Unfortunately the staff weren’t that easy to find so top ups were not really an option.

Some of our group opted for the additional $20 for a cocktail, and for $30 you can go for a glass of champagne with your afternoon tea. The standard afternoon tea was $42 – this seems a fair price for the quantity of food and is pretty average for Singapore.

Overall, the company made the afternoon worthwhile. Everyone felt they had got their money worth and although disappointed with the flavour of the food that day, the look of it was lovely. But, the afternoon tea was just a sideline really; never the star of the show, which is a shame.

This is definitely a bar best seen at night. Oh, and the twist? No idea! *

What, when, where, how much?

Classic Afternoon Tea
Daily, 2-5pm.
One-Ninety Bar and Terrazzo by Javier De Las Muelas *
The Four Seasons Hotel
190 Orchard Boulevard
Tel: +65 6734 1110

http://www.fourseasons.com/singapore/dining/bar/one-ninety_bar_and_terraza_by_javier_de_las_muelas/

$42++ per person. More for cocktails and champagne.

Overall score from The Handbags and Teabags Ladies:

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* Maybe the twist is the ridiculously long name?

The island of fun

Bear with me whilst I have a little meander down memory lane won’t you?

Years ago when I was young, free and full of bullshit, err…I mean adventurous spirit, my BFF and I decided to give up our jobs, our homes (well, I left mine with my then boyfriend) and our families to travel to the wonderful land of Oz. We booked our flight and didn’t pay much attention to the stop over destination. We just agreed that a few days in some place called Singapore would be an ok idea.

I remember getting off the aeroplane, finding the bus stop then walking for miles looking for a hostel. We checked in to a not-so-great looking place where flip flops were a necessity when visiting the bathroom and downstairs was a cafe frequented all through the night by labourers. I have no idea to this day where we stayed I just remember my friend fell down one of the storm drains whilst we were crossing the road and I thought this was hilarious. What I do remember is taking the cable car one day across to Sentosa Island. We only went there as it was in the tourist guide and there didn’t seem much else to do (sharp intake of breath from everyone).

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Siloso beach as I remember it.

It was all very low key. Some kind of nature walk and a mono rail, but that was pretty much it. What stands out  in my memory was discovering the ‘beach’. A line of palm trees in front of the Rasa hotel through which was the merest hint of sand. Walking through the trees revealed this magic patch of sand with a few straw umbrellas dotted around. My friend and I whiled away an hour or two chatting, planning, bullshitting no doubt. But it was lovely. Peaceful, serene even. And yes, there were tankers sailing by just across the way. That was 1996.

Years later, with a husband (the aforementioned house sitting boyfriend no less), a couple of children and a whole life time on I came back to Sentosa. We were there, again on a stopover to Oz. In that weird way that life has, we were actually on our way to visit my BFF who had never left Sydney all those years before. After saying ‘see you up the coast’ as she had a job that was keeping her in Sydney for a few more weeks, we bid farewell. Then my BFF met and fell in love with her now hubby and never made it.

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The mighty Merlion

Anyway, I digress. So, there I  was with my little family and the beach was just as I remembered really – the line of palm trees, the patch of sand with the umbrellas shading just a few people, all still fairly low key. Except it was now called Siloso Beach, well that patch of it was anyway. This was 2004.

By this time there was also the aquarium on Sentosa – a big shiny attraction with dolphins to swim with, huge tanks, petting pools and so on. There was also a few other things to see such as the musical fountain and a butterfly park, there were a few restaurants dotted along the beaches too. There was even a tram that could take you from one end to the other.

My hubby, myself and our two young boys – took the tram to visit the Merlion. This 37m towering giant was a sight to behold – and a sight that catches your eye as you enter Sentosa across the causeway bridge. Well, it used to – more of that later. Night or day it looks amazing. Standing proud of all of its surroundings. Well, it used to – but more of that later! 

We went up to the observation deck at the top of the Merlion’s head, stood and roared in its mouth and had the obligatory tourist shot taken. We went back at night too when the Merlion takes on a whole new feel with it’s beady eyes shooting out laser beams, and its mermaid scales that twinkle with thousands of lights as the water gushing around it sparkles.

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A stroll along Merlion walk. 2007.

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The original Siloso

I know, I’m a little bit in love with the Merlion.

From that visit though it didn’t seem that that much had changed on Sentosa apart from the odd new place to eat and things were a bit more polished for the tourists. A few years later though and it was a whole new story.

With hubby’s work now bringing him to Singapore more and more we would come with him on work based holidays. By now we had a new addition to the family too. So, he’d work for a week whilst me and the kids holidayed – hubby would then join us for a week. Each time we chose to stay on Sentosa. Each time it changed a little bit more. First, the restaurants grew, then a few more attractions were being advertised – Songs of The Sea, Images of Singapore and so on. Then, my husband heard the rumours that there was going to be a Universal Studios resort built there. This was around 2008.

What? On our lovely serene Sentosa. Don’t be daft.

The next year when we visited we could see the skeleton of what was to become this mammoth building project taking shape. I didn’t like it.

After a few years of being away, in 2012 we returned and the change was amazing. In fact, it was jaw dropping. My husband had given us updates each time he’d been over. That the park was pretty much taking over the whole of Sentosa. That you could see it as you came up towards Sentosa Gateway.  That it was now a fully fledged tourist attraction. But nothing could prepare us for this amazing new mini town with its huge fairy tale castle, sky scraping hotels and  hair-raising rides, restaurants, shows and much more.

You could see it as you drove across the causeway. In fact, it kind of hits you around the gob full on.  And here I quietly stifle a sob.IMG_1257

My poor majestic Merlion no longer stands proud and tall over Sentosa. Instead, he has been hidden away behind the buildings, rides and general stuff that make up a world famous theme park. Now, you’re lucky to spot him as you drive around the bend towards the beach.

But, I have to say, it is spectacular and for Singapore it does add an element that was missing. Or, an element that tourists couldn’t see or find before so easily. Fun!

Nowadays if you head to Sentosa you are going knowing full well you’ll be spending the day having fun. Whether it’s visiting the Images of Singapore exhibition (wonderful), skimming the treetops on the 450m long megazip ride (my Son tells me it’s amazing), flying down the luge (the best fun ever), cooling down at the Port of Lost Wonder (great for younger kids), watching the stunning water and laser show (worth the $15 or so) or meandering around the butterfly park (good fun).

There is so much to do you need a whole weekend at least. And that’s without stopping for food. On that note, a mention to one of our favourite spots in Singapore – Coastes restaurant. The best place to kick off your shoes, sink your feet in the sand, grab something cold to drink and chill. We go there often on a Sunday after taking our dog for his Sunday morning dip at Tanjong Beach. The fish and chips is always fab, the all day brekkie is good too.

USSAnd what of Universal Studios; Singapore’s answer to Disney land? It is fab, I can’t deny it. My kids love it and would go every weekend if they could. It has some great rides, is clean, well laid out, easy to access and never so busy you want to scream (well not much anyway). It does add an element to Singapore that was perhaps missing. I just wish they’d given some more thought to the poor old Merlion and his view. Still, he seems quite happy as he now has an even sparklier walk up to see him.

And, this, as it turns out is just part one of my Sentosa story. A friend of mine recently moved to Sentosa so I went for a little wander around the residential area one day whilst waiting for her to let me in for a cuppa. Oh my. It’s a whole new world! And, there’s another story…

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I couldn’t resist it…. 2014