From The Straits Times    |

Image: Neo Xiaobin / ST

Wild Rice’s two-night, five-hour historical play Hotel swept the M1-The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards yesterday, with four wins that left co-directors Ivan Heng and Glen Goei speechless.

They thanked cast and crew when they jointly won the Best Director award – Goei’s first and Heng’s second after Animal Farm (2003) – but were lost for words when Hotel also won Production of the Year. It beat four other plays, including The LKY Musical, which was the readers’ choice for production of the year.

Fifteen awards were given out at the M1-The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards yesterday at the Esplanade. This was the largest number in the 16-year history of the annual prizes, which highlight the best of Singapore theatre in the previous year. An award for children’s theatre was given out for the first time this year.

Heng, 52, said: “We took a leap in the dark with Hotel. It was frightening, it was challenging but it was oh, so exhilarating.”

A standout even among the many epic productions that ran during the Jubilee Year, Hotel took place over two nights at the Victoria Theatre.

It showed a century of Singapore history through sketches taking place in different decades in the same hotel. It featured 13 actors playing 40 characters, who jointly won Best Ensemble.

Hotel also won Best Original Script for the text, co-written by Alfian Sa’at and Marcia Vanderstraaten.

Another reflection on Singapore’s history, The LKY Musical by Metropolitan Productions and Singapore Repertory Theatre, nabbed three prizes. Adrian Pang’s portrayal of Lee Kuan Yew won the veteran his fourth Best Actor award. First-time nominee Benjamin Chow took home the Best Supporting Actor prize for his portrayal of left-wing leader Lim Chin Siong.

The LKY Musical was also the Production of the Year (Readers’ Choice), winning half of 2,542 unique votes cast in an online poll.

Judging last year’s productions was a panel of four comprising an arts educator and arts reviewers from the Singapore Press Holdings stable of newspapers.

The new prize for children’s theatre was given out during the ceremony at the Esplanade Recital Studio, attended by Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng and National Arts Council chief executive officer Kathy Lai.

The Best Production for the Young award is organised in partnership with the arts council and rewards the best productions for children aged 12 and younger by Singapore companies in the previous year.

It was won by The Theatre Practice’s The Wee Question Mark And The Adventurer – A Children’s Musical.

The award was judged by a separate panel of four, which included arts educators and a journalist.

Ms Lai said of the award: “Young audiences are absolutely honest – they are critical… It takes great effort and sophisticated artistry to engage young audiences and this often goes unappreciated.”

The winners

Production of the Year: Hotel (Wild Rice) 

Production of the Year (Readers’ Choice): The LKY Musical (Metropolitan Productions, Singapore Repertory Theatre) 

Best Production for the Young: The Wee Question Mark And The Adventurer – A Children’s Musical (The Theatre Practice) 

Best Director: Ivan Heng and Glen Goei for Hotel

Best Original Script: Alfian Sa’at and Marcia Vanderstraaten for Hotel

Best Actor: Adrian Pang in The LKY Musical

Best Actress: Siti Khalijah Zainal in Off Centre (Oliver Chong, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay) 

Best Ensemble: Hotel

Best Supporting Actor: Benjamin Chow in The LKY Musical

Best Supporting Actress: Serene Chen in Public Enemy (Wild Rice) 

Best Set Design: Wong Chee Wai for Legends Of The Southern Arch (The Theatre Practice) 

Best Lighting Design: Dorothy Png for Legends Of The Southern Arch

Best Sound Design: Bani Haykal for untitled women (The Necessary Stage) 

Best Costume Design: Reckless Ericka for The Incredible Adventures Of Border Crossers (Ong Keng Sen, Chris Lee, Reckless Ericka, Kaffe Matthews, Brian Gothong Tan, Francis Ng; Singapore International Festival of Arts; Singapour en France – le Festival) 

Best Multimedia Design: Brian Gothong Tan for The Incredible Adventures Of Border Crossers


A version of this story was originally published in The Straits Times on April 26, 2016. For more stories like this, head to

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