Roulette is a musical staged at the University Cultural Centre on 20th October 2012 by National University of Singapore's Raffles Hall. Loosely based on the musical Casino by Richard Lord and Kenneth Lyen, it has been rewritten by the three directors, Hoon Ding Yi, Yvonne Alaina Lek and Teh Huiying. Six new songs composed by Klaus Kristian have been added.
Set in Golden Sands Singapore, a fictitious casino, the story centres around Everett (Cheng Ming De), an innocent 21-year-old university student, who is visiting the casino for the very first time. He is being mentored by two senior employees of the casino, Morgen Stanley Tan (Clive Lim) and Vera Stearns (Kathryn Harsono). Unknown to him, these two veterans are using him to ensnare a benevolent Robin Hood (Norman Lim) who is depriving the casino of its earnings by consistently winning, and then giving his takings to unfortunate gamblers who have lost everything. At the start of the musical we see Robin Hood help a gambler (Amalina Kotharisa) who has lost all her money, and warns her never to return to the casino.
We learn the reason why Everett wants to make a lot of money at the casino when he takes a toilet break. Through a flashback, Everett reveals that his girlfriend Joanne (Teo Ee) has just ditched him because of his lack of money. She sings:
"When I fall in love for real,
It must be cost effective.
Though you're perfect in so many ways,
Your bank account's defective."
In this male toilet scene, Robin Hood emerges from a cubicle cross-dressed, and "she" raised some of the most deafening screams and laughs of the entire evening.
Everett is making a killing at all the different tables, but he is egged on by Morgen and Vera to gamble all his earnings on a structured derivatives table which is leveraged multiple times. They inform him:
"Nothing succeeds like excess,
And you should expect nothing less
Than a mammoth fortune,
Served up in full portions,
A life free of striving and stress,
And excess in moderation can't hurt."
Everett puts all his winnings into the roulette game. But despite guessing the right number, he is told that the rule of the game means that he has actually lost.
There is a subplot of a manager Freddie (Wilson Koh) who is obsessed with absolute cleanliness, and whose motto is “Low grime does not mean no grime!” The main cleaning lady is Dora (Michelle Koh) who is totally committed to her job:
"I'm just here for cleaning,
There's no other meaning,
Got no time for preening,
That's not my way."
Ultimately Dora helps Robin Hood and Everett, by substituting a spy pen-recorder planted on Everett for a regular pen. The owner of the casino, Mr Bear (Un Wei Yang), is disappointed that his employees Morgen and Vera have failed to capture Robin Hood.
Roulette is ably directed by Hoon Ding Yi, Yvonne Lek, and Teh Hui Ying. The choreographers Law Wei Chen, Tan Hui Fang, and Pearlyn Yeo have lifted the entire performance by their well-synchronized dancing.
Set designer Ling Uraiwan and sets engineer Leong Kah Ho, Foo Wei Li, Daniel Wijaya have created a highly credible casino. Costume designers Tan Ying Hui and Wang Qing Zhu have added to the scene with their beautiful costumes. The music is arranged by Klaus Kristian, Jonathan Koh, Khew Xue Fuah, Jordan Chia, Jermain Cho. The orchestra is ably conducted by Jonathan Koh. The choir directors-cum-vocal-coach are Paul Antonio and Loo Yi Xin. The orchestra and choir support the singers effectively.
The cast and crew is incredibly large, and I counted over 200 people involved in this production. This could only be achieved by a remarkable team of producers. Therefore, kudos goes to the brilliant organizing abilities of Dixon Tioh, Lim Shi Kang, and Quan Yang. Resident advisor, Dr Ho Han Kiat, has guided the whole team from the very beginning.
The high energy performance has many laugh-out-loud moments. Everybody has put their heart and soul in the production, and it shows. Raffles Hall can be congratulated for a most enjoyable evening!
22 October 2012