Dawn Fung reviews Wonderland, an original homeschoolers musical that happened last Sat at the Salvation Army auditorium at Upper Bukit Timah. Supervised by homeschooling mum Vivian Kwek, the production was a testament to the resilience and creativity of self-directed learning among high school homeschooling kids.
Initially they had wanted to put up Les Miserables. They didn’t realise until after auditions and rehearsals had begun, that a performing license was still needed (tsk). What happened? Did they give up and go home? NO! They came up with an original instead, so that they didn’t have to pay anyone. (You go, kids!)
In three weeks, the first draft of Wonderland came out. Halfway, half of the team had to withdraw. But did they give up? NO! They fought on bravely, and kept inviting others to join in until they succeeded with the final 15-strong cast and crew. What this shows is that teens can do it, if they did something they liked, rather than something they didn’t want to do in the first place.
So with this kind of attitude, they put up a great show. It was amateurish. Some parts would have made a theatre director look down at her feet or a props master say, “too many!” But did that stop the audience from loving the show? NO! This was exactly what it was, a debut musical theatre by youths.
Wonderland is a story of a 14-year-old teen, Elise, who finds herself in an imaginary world after what seems like years of neglect by her parents. (It is true. Your teens withdraw from you if you do it to them often.) Suddenly the cat and figures that Elise drew at 5 are real-in-the-flesh. They sing and dance with her. They help her confront evil queen Cordelia whose problem is that she is an over-controlling mother who, after having lost her young daughter in a fire, now wants to own Elise as her lost child. This problem is so bad that the king has disappeared, magically trapped by Cordelia into her crown. Elise eventually breaks the crown and breaks the spell. The queen is also broken in the process and faces the truth of her loss. Back home, Elise realises her parents love her.
We all gave it a thumbs up. This is a wholesome musical that makes your heart full, especially since most of the audience were friends and family; we came to support and love the team that put up the show. I know two tweens who sat in the front row that gave glowing reviews after. The musical was a “9/9” and a “9/5” (which meant it exceeded expectations, not a fractional error). One of them said “I thought it was really good.”
Do we want to see more? YES! We hope that the Homeschool Musical Team keeps going. We want to see more grounds up initiatives that bring the heads and hearts from families to families all around town.