REVIEW: Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress – IS BROADWAY WORTHY!!!

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REVIEW: Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress

Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress (Photo credit: Singapore Repertory Theatre)

Even though Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress debut in October 2002, this is the first time I am catching it after hearing so much raving reviews from friends over the years. I must say this is an amazing Singapore musical production and I am truly touched by the emotional script, mesmerising songs and the heartfelt performance by the cast. As a Singaporean, I am proud of it and I truly think that Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress is Broadway-worthy and you should not miss it.

REVIEW Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress

Standing ovation for Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress

Based on a true incident that happened in 1904, painter Kate Carl was invited to paint the portrait of Empress Dowager Cixi. The production team came across this line in a book that Kate said to the Dragon Lady, “If you want me to paint the real you, I need to know the real you“. So from this sentence, the production team spun it off and created the musical, Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress. Telling an epic tale of the the Empress Dowager Cixi’s life from a young concubine to a lonely old ruler of China that no one understands her sorrows and sacrifice for the peace of the country.

For this new run, three different stages of Empress Dowager Cixi will be portrayed by three actresses, Cheryl Tan as Young Yehenara, Kit Chan as Yehenara and Sheila Francisco as the Dragon Lady. Differing from the original run where Kit Chan plays both young & middle aged Yehenara and Sheila Francisco as the Dragon Lady. Each of them gave a distinctive vibe of the Cixi in those stages of her life. The audience can relate to each of them and feel their sorrow as they sing their heart out with music scores by Dick Lee.

REVIEW: Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress

Portrait of an EmpressĀ (Photo credit: Singapore Repertory Theatre)

New to this production, Cheryl Tan may not have the best vocals, but her rendition of Young Yehenara is flawless and we soon forgot about her vocal shortcomings. We went on a journey of bitter sweet and miserale life of a concubine, who strived to protect her happiness from a nobody to the mother of the prince.

REVIEW Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress

Cixi will be played by Sheila Francisco, Kit Chan and Cheryl Tan

The stage props may look simple at first, but its ingenious design lets it swiftly transform from scene to scene while keeping the audience immersed in the story! Even when I am comparing the production with the likes of the big names such as Wicked, Lion King and many more that I had watched, Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress’s storyline, stage prop, cast and music score will not lose to them. So why isn’t it at the Broadway yet? It’s such a beautiful & tragic story that needs to be shared with everyone around the world. Let’s make it happen!!! Support local production and we hope that more productions like this can be made. Let’s make us Singaporeans proud.

One Comment

  1. Thank you Adrian!

    Yes, we are Super proud of this musical and do hope that we one day soon can find the means to take this Made in Singapore musical to the world. Thanks for the review. Charlotte Nors, Singapore Repertory Theatre

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