A Twist of Fate cast caricatures posterScheduled to open on the 18th of Novermber, 2005, at the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore, A Twist of Fate will be Lauras next musical theatre adventure. Presented by the Singapore Repertory Theatre, this musical is described as being "In the tradition of Agatha Christie and the great “whodunits” of the 1930s, it is a delicious comedy of twists and turns, false clues and dastardly deeds, set against the backdrop of a Peranakan family in Singapore. Dark and stormy nights, midnight rendezvous, an inconvenient murder or two, and memorable tunes make this an entertaining, suspense-filled evening at the theatre."

Now with two new songs, lyrics by Anthony Drewe, who is also reprising his role as Inspector East and music by Dick Lee, the show was voted Best Musical back in 1997, when it was first produced and is set to be a must see for any adventurous Laura fan.

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Of Umbrellas and Fans and Things.The cast of A Twist of Fate
Laura's Mary Poppins training will certainly be handy in Singapore. No one seems to travel anywhere without an umbrella and you quickly realise why, with frequent angry electrical storms and torrential monsoon rain offering a brief respite to the incessant equatorial heat. Umbrella in hand is the only way to travel and if you could only get one to fly you could avoid the slightly chaotic taxi service.

On to the reason for a journey thousands of miles further than my usual trip to the West End, and that is, of course the Singapore Repertory Theatres production of A Twist of Fate. I would, quite simply, have walked here to see this one, such is the enjoyment this murder mystery, comedy, drama, romance, musical engenders. I could not help becoming completely enveloped in the plot, love the characters and I truly worried for Laura's Emma West when, after discovering the fate of her parents, she grasps a letter opener with a look of tearful rage that I've never seen from her before. Surely not our Laura!

The whole cast seemed to enjoy what was an hilarious three hours, with a collection of good, bad (but a good bad), and brilliant jokes delivered so well they very nearly bought the house down. No really!
"Why is Ah See killing chickens at midnight?"
"He must be in a fowl mood"
It's out of context for you, but believe me, it triggered uproarious laughter from the entire house and bought tears to my eyes.

Anthony Drewe, Olivier award winning lyricist and it would seem a detective for the third time in Singapore, was for me the unexpected jewel in this fantastic cast. He deserves the very highest praise for his reprised role of Inspector East. The man quite simply should be promoted to national treasure, even with his dodgy moustache.

Who me?The music was in safe hands with Dick Lee and Anthony Drewe collaborating with great success. Each of the songs were beautifully crafted, frequently hilarious or stirring and so memorable you didn’t know which one to hum on the way out of the theatre. How often do you get to say that? There were a couple of new songs for this production and the new duet for Laura Michelle Kelly and Michael K Lee’s characters, Emma and Richard, “It’s Not What I Imagined” was a tremendous moment in the show, successfully encapsulating their burgeoning affection for each other and so well staged that it was a moment of theatrical splendour. 

The direction and choreography both enhance and compliment each other throughout the show to startling effect at times and it's one of the few occasions I've actually found the humour in the performers movement and dance so evident, while remaining in harmony with each song and the plot. This is truly a visual feast and a great production by both Steven Dexter and Nick Winston, director and choreographer respectively.

This is Laura’s first show after what was close to a year and a half preparing for and playing the worlds favourite nanny and this role is very different. Instead of the magically starched, sharp, and controlling figure I have loved and miss dearly, Laura now is Emma West a slightly scatty English lady, seemingly vulnerable and nervous in her unfamiliar surroundings, yet steadfast in her mission to discover her past. She comes complete with a startlingly proper English accent, amazingly more pronounced than Mary Poppins, a great guffawing laugh and her parrot headed umbrella has been replaced by a fan, probably a must have accessory in pre-air conditioned 1937 Singapore.

Laura has quickly taken to this new role, displaying the wide range of emotions Emma experiences with all the skill her craft demands and in front of an audience who probably would not be fully conversant with the impressive accomplishments of the ever rising star in their midst she has not been able to rely on her reputation. Not that she ever has.

Her songs are sung with passion and she held the audience captivated during her solo number "Who am I?”. It was great to see Laura in a new role and she is obviously relishing the challenges of a new and very different audience, a new show, a new cast and in one of the most impressive venues in the world.

Winning the audience and critics over was never going to be easy, but with her outstanding vocal abilities, a whole bundle of well delivered great lines, both comedic and dramatic and above all her mesmerizing stage presence, it is a task she has completed with aplomb. All together a performance worthy of high acclaim and exactly what we have come to expect from Laura and I'm sure that she would have settled for nothing less.

It is always wonderful to hear Laura sing new songs and see her perform different roles and it only left me eagerly anticipating the further performances of A Twist of Fate that I had planned over the next few days.

This show truly is one of Singapore’s best kept secrets and this production would grace any stage in the world. SRT please share.

Geoff Ambler 20, November 2005

This review refers to the first night performance on the 18th of November 2005 at The Esplanade Theatre, Singapore, produced by the Singapore Repertory Theatre.

 

A sharper Twist would kill - extract from The Straits Times

First things first: Does Laura Michelle Kelly, the West End’s Next Big Thing, live up to all the hype?
The answer to that is an unqualified yes. Kelly, who won Britain’s Laurence Olivier Best Actress In A Musical award for her turn as Mary Poppins boasts a clear, sweet voice and she is ravishing in both her technical and emotional control of it.

Kelly was winsome and commanding as Emma West, an English rose who discovers she was abandoned as a baby on the steps of the raffles Hotel. She returns to Singapore as a lass in her 20s determined to find out who her real parents are.

To that end, she pays a visit to the Peranakan household headed by one unseen character, Lim Chin Boon, her possible grandfather.

Unfortunately, you will not really get to see and hear Kelly as much as you would probably like in this Singapore Repertory Theatre murder mystery musical comedy. Emma has only one solo, the plaintive Who Am I?, that is easily the show’s best tune.

Hong Xinyi 22, November 2005

 

A Twist of Fate is one of the year's best plays - from Singapores Today newspaper

SINGAPORE: In recent months, Singapore's stage performances have been patchy at best. A Twist of Fate

Award-winning turns have been hampered by immature scripting, great dancers have been let down by pretentious concepts and on, one or two occasions, a low budget has burdened a show with production values that left it looking much like a secondary school play.
Fortunately, A Twist of Fate is a glorious exception: A clue to suggest that both the Esplanade and the theatre scene is on the right track, a red herring hidden among mediocre productions, this fabulous musical stands out as one of the theatrical highlights of 2005.

True, A Twist of Fate has been staged here twice before, in 1997 and 1998, and may attract cynical yawns from those who suggest the Singapore Repertory Theatre should offer more original fare.

But until a wittier script turns up with a better musical scores and more succinct lyrics, I would recommend that every Singaporean head along to the Esplanade to work out "whodunnit".

Running until Dec 4, A Twist of Fate is more than a guilty pleasure. It's a feast for the voracious theatregoer.

Set in 1937, it's an old-fashioned murder mystery that lampoons the works of Agatha Christie, bringing all the suspects together - always "at midnight" - to reveal the murderer, just as the great Inspector Hercule Poirot always did in classics like One, Two Buckle My Shoe and Hickory Dickory Dock.

But Dick Lee and Anthony Drewe's fine work (Drewe actually appears as the Inspector) is not a rehash of a Christie pot-boiler, but a delightful parody.

A more apt comparison would be to Neil Simon's hilarious movie Murder By Death (1976), which starred Peter Sellers and David Niven.

The jazzy, piano-tinkling musical score in the style of the 1920s and 1930s, the costumes, the midnight meetings, thunder claps, the genteel colonial setting with tea and biscuits, the unnecessary, and far-too-detailed confession by the murderer as he thinks he is about to escape; it's all lampooned in A Twist of Fate.

And it's hilarious. So much so that individual punchlines were applauded on several occasions, a rarity on the Singapore stage.

That's due in part to the cast. Adrian Pang's comic turn as Uncle Albert deserves special mention, as the Singaporean possesses an often unappreciated gift for stage comedy.

Sheila Francisco's big-busomed Ming, the lady of the house, threatens to walk off with all the plaudits. Both her delivery and her singing are pitch perfect.

Award-winning actress Laura Michelle Kelly has less to do as Emma than she did on London's West End as Mary Poppins, but on a couple of solos, she shows off a vocal range that leaves one hammering down the goosebumps.

But then, the entire cast do not miss a beat and the lavish SRT production (the revolving colonial house set is wonderful) deserves all the plaudits that should be thrown its way.

It's no mystery. A Twist of Fate is one of the best plays of 2005.

Neil Humphreys 21, November 2005