A pop musical that shows us how to treat ourselves better
SINGAPORE 2 May 2023 – “Can someone tell me how to be? Can I be someone who isn’t me?” As The Monster in the Mirror‘s original song Pale Blue Horizon goes, these questions are still of paramount importance to youths today as they struggle to find a space and identity for themselves. Gateway Arts’ much-anticipated live staging of The Monster in the Mirror this May takes on these questions as a hilarious and heart-warming musical, which unravels the psychological journey of a teenage girl through the trials and tribulations of growing up in the modern world. Adapted from Gateway Arts’ highly successful 2021 musical digital production, it was previously seen by an audience of over 11,500 and received rave reviews from audiences and fellow artists alike.
The musical follows the journey of Jane, an average schoolgirl navigating the stressful world of teenage politics and social media drama. Jane is bullied in school, constantly nagged at home, and tormented by the self-critical voice in her head until she receives a magic mirror from a flamboyant Fairy God Delivery Beng. This mirror brings to life the monster that has been living in her head; the voice that has been turning her world upside down with self-doubt. Through her journey, Jane learns to forgive and love herself, while finding a confident voice amidst the challenges of growing up in today’s world.
Developed based on research, interviews, and talks with teenagers, parents and mental health professionals, the show aims to represent the inner struggles that are relatable to most youths. The production is created by Bitesize Theatre Productions, developed under the Gateway Arts Collective-In-Residence Programme 2020-2021.
Opening at the Gateway Theatre from 12 to 27 May 2023, the theatrical production is headlined by Ah Boys to Men star Noah Yap as the story’s iconic Fairy God Delivery Beng. In his theatrical starring role, the popular “beng” infuses his signature wit and humour into his character while adding charm and glitter. He stars alongside a talented cast featuring Sharon Sum, Andrea Alingalan, Estelle Fly, Sharon Mah, Ryan Ang and Zulfiqar Izzudin, creating a visual spectacle with toe-tapping original tunes, dazzling dance numbers and theatrically magical moments that will leave audiences entertained and moved.
“Having worked with youths, I see many struggles with self-acceptance. Many amplify the flaws in their minds, putting up masks and facades to hide their fears instead of embracing themselves as who they are,” recounts Priscilla Khong-Espinosa, Executive Director of Gateway Arts. “Regardless of age, we are our harshest critics. More so in a digital era where we compare ourselves to unrealistic images on social media of what we believe we should look or be like. I hope that the show and post-show segments can spark discussion and self-reflection amongst audiences.”
Terrance Tan, writer and director of The Monster in the Mirror, expresses his excitement for moving the production from film to stage, “The stage is a very different medium from film. With film, I had to present a certain naturalism. But with the stage, there is more room to play with the surreal and heightened dramatics of the show. Jane is someone who doodles and draws a lot, so we wondered: what if her sketches come to life and we see her life through them? That is the biggest change from the film and I’m very excited for audiences to discover all sorts of surprises from that.”
“This musical has been created by youth for youth. The story and characters are from their world and recognisable to their peers. Many in the team have experienced their own mental health challenges and hope to let others know that they are not alone,” remarks Juliet Chia, Producer of The Monster in the Mirror.
Award-winning creatives Alberta Wileo, Petrina Dawn Tan and Loo An Ni are also elevating the live production of The Monster in the Mirror with their magical touch, promising to deliver a performance that is both visually and theatrically entertaining. Set Designer Petrina, Costume Designer An Ni, and Lighting Designer Alberta have all bagged honours in their respective categories at the “Life! Theatre Awards”, with Petrina and An Ni clinching the award in 2020 and Alberta having won in 2022.
In collaboration with TOUCH Mental Wellness (a service of TOUCH Community Services), the musical tackles important mental health issues and self-love, providing a timely tale that empowers youth and encourages them to seek support. It sheds light on the expectations placed on today’s youth, reducing the stigma and shame surrounding mental health issues and identifying the dangers of social media.
Ms Andrea Chan, Assistant Director of TOUCH Mental Wellness, acknowledges that the struggles depicted in the musical will resonate with some youths in society. “We aspire for youths to have good mental wellness, allowing them to cope well with stress, be productive at school, and realise their full potential. The Arts is an avenue where these topics can be fleshed out and create much-needed discussion. We are excited to collaborate with Gateway Arts on this production to create meaningful and insightful conversations on this topic,” says Andrea.
The production will also offer a relaxed performance on Sat, 20 May, 2:30pm, which will be suitable for everyone, including individuals who have special needs or who generally find typical theatregoing “rules” stressful. During this performance, the atmosphere will be more casual. There is an open attitude towards noise or movements in the audience, and people may leave the auditorium if they feel uncomfortable and re-enter anytime they are ready. For anyone concerned about potential sensory triggers, a pre-performance guide will be available with short descriptions of what to expect during the show. This will help people understand in advance what might happen and reduce the stress of going to an unfamiliar environment.
“It’s a fine balance between keeping the integrity of the play and making it as accessible as possible,” says Daniel Wong, sound designer of The Monster In the Mirror. “A relaxed performance is only possible when every part of the team is aligned in its goal of making the musical accessible. So I’m very glad to be part of this team and we can’t wait to showcase this performance.”
The Monster in the Mirror will premiere at the Gateway Theatre (Main Theatre) on 12 May 2023. Tickets are priced from $10 to $65 (exclude booking fee), sold through SISTIC and ticketing hotline: (65) 6348 5555, as well as authorised agents.
For more information, visit Gateway Arts website at https://gatewayarts.sg/.