About The Rise & Fall of Little Voice
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice is a 1992 play written by English dramatist Jim Cartwright. The play tells the tale of a shy girl, Little Voice (LV), with an extraordinary talent – imitating the songs of showbiz icons. Living in the shadow of her loud mother, LV seeks solace in the record collection that her father left her. You’ll be in for a rollercoaster ride of emotions in this heart-warming comedy!
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice by Pangdemonium! will be the Asian Premier of this show. Pangdemonium! has recently bagged 3 awards in the 2014 The Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards including Best Actor – Adrian Pang in Rabbit Hole, Production of the Year (Reader’s Choice) – Next to Normal and Production of the Year – Next to Normal. We can definitely look forward to a great experience in The Rise & Fall of Little Voice.
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice tells the story of a shy, reclusive girl named LV – or Little Voice (played by the extraordinary Mina Kaye) – and her larger than life, boozy, out-of-control mother Mari (Denise Tan). Desperately missing her dead father, LV spends her time locked in her bedroom listening to his old record collection and perfecting astonishing impersonations of famous divas including Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe, Barbra Streisand, Edith Piaf, Judy Garland…
When Mari starts dating sleazy, small time “talent scout” Ray Say (Adrian Pang), she thinks he’s her chance for a better life. When Ray hears LV sing, he thinks she’s the ticket to the big time. Meanwhile, LV finds comfort and companionship in Billy (Shane Mardjuki), a young man who is just as socially awkward, and an oddball romance blooms. As showtime draws closer, the stage is set for LV’s stunning debut performance – and a showdown that will change everyone’s lives.
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice won the Laurence Olivier Award for “Best Comedy”, and the Evening Standard Award for “Best Comedy”, and was adapted into an acclaimed film. With a humorous and heartwarming story, colourful characters and wonderful music, this production will be the Asian Premiere of this very special show, and marks Pangdemonium!’s first production set in Singapore!
TSL interview with the leads
We had the opportunity to interview the two leads in the The Rise & Fall of Little Voice – Adrian Pang who plays Ray Say and Denise Tan who plays Mari!
Q: First off, congratulations to Pangdemonium! on winning 3 awards at the ST Life! Theatre Awards! Does that put pressure on you to up your game for Little Voice?
Adrian: The shows from last year, Rabbit Hole, for example, was a whole year ago and then Next to Normal was in September. Since then we’ve done 2 other shows and we’re working on our third already so that kind of came in the midst of just continuing work really. But honestly, its great, its really nice.
We’re really grateful for the acknowledgements but we’ve just been pushing on, there’s no time to look back. We’ve got our hands full with (Little Voice) anyway and I think every show has got to stand on its own merits, you can’t take anything for granted.
Denise: Pangdemonium! has really gone out on a limb to give me a chance to do a very meaty, wordy, talky role that is very very unlike who I really am so its a real challenge.
Adrian: Might this be the most talky, less sing-y role you’ve done?
Denise: Possibly. Every time I do a play, somebody will try and make me sing, even if there’s no music involved, somehow a song gets put in. So its good to do a play for a change, rather than a musical. Its good, I wish I could do more of those.
Q: Was it difficult for you to get into character, because both your characters are so outlandish and garish?
Denise: I think that’s any actors dream, to play against type or just to not play yourself. So I don’t think that’s exactly the challenge. The challenge for me is, because these are very larger than life characters, is how to be larger than life but not be unreal or just a caricature or stereotype. You’ve got to try to be all of those things but yet be believable.
Adrian: With the style of the piece and the dialogue that’s actually given to the characters, its very tempting to unconsciously slip into that realm of big and larger than life and that’s all there is. SO we’ve been very mindful and Tracie, our director, has been very mindful to make sure there’s all of that but you absolutely have to ground it in reality.
Q: How about the fact that Little Voice is a Laurence Olivier Award winning play and you’re bringing it to Asia for the first time, does that make things a little scarier?
Denise: I didn’t even know it was a Laurence Olivier award winning play so thanks for the pressure! (Laughs)
Adrian: I think also the fact that we’re setting it in Singapore was a challenge that we decided to just run with. We’ve always loved the piece and loved the story. We just never thought that we’d be able to do it. First of all, finding the person to play Little Voice herself. There’s no point even thinking about doing it if we couldn’t find someone. As it turns out we’d both worked with Mina on previous shows and she just kind of does these voices for the hell of it which, oddly enough, in the original production of Little Voice in the West End was how it came about.
Jane Horrocks who originated the role was just messing about in the dressing room and Jim Cartwright was like “Oh my god!” and from there he created this story. But how to bring this distinctly Northern English set and bring it to Singapore because the language of the original is very specifically from there so we were looking for some way it could work.
After some time we decided we could because its set in 1974 when Singapore as a very young country was also trying to find her own voice and we still are, we’re only 50 years old and we’re still like Little Voice herself looking to all these outside influences, mostly the West, and still trying to find our own way to express ourselves. So we found that there was a resonance there.
Denise: And I dare say if Olivier were alive he would say “Bravo! Encore!” (Laughs)
Q: So what are some uniquely Singaporean things audience members can look forward to seeing?
Adrian: We do name-drop certain references that are distinctly Singaporean, place names and personality names, people who are within our consciousness and within pop culture. Its set in 1974 Singapore so during that time certain topical references about Singapore are made. For example the Stop At 2 campaign and the Speak Mandarin campaign. Just little things.
Denise: Lightly peppered throughout the play, just to give people a sense of place and time.
Adrian: A little bit of the language, modified ever so slightly, just to ground it in Singapore. I won’t give away too much else but the nightclub that Little Voice sings in is “Boo-gis Wonderland” because its run by a Mr Boo and its in Bugis so the ambience of it is a bit of a throwback to that time.
Q: So what are your favourite scenes in the play?
Denise: For the whole of Act 1, I’m never off-stage. Maybe for a little, just to change my costume and then I’m back on and just talking non-stop. Its just pages and pages of virtually monologues because that’s the point right, she doesn’t shut up. So its all kind of bled into one. So maybe my favourite is when I go during costume change and not talk for a bit. (Laughs)
No I think one of my favourites is, because Mari is hard as nails, in your face, she’s a hurricane. So when she does calm down and you see the human side of her, a tenderer more real side of her. When she actually has a moment, I like it because it redeems her a little bit. There’s a nice, funny scene with Little Voice when the mother side of her shines through.
Adrian: My character, Ray, is just trying to make a quick buck and this mother-daughter combo is his ticket to the fast track, his last chance to make it big as her manager. He does have 2 particular quiet moments when you think he might be doing something good for Little Voice but then it kind of comes around and stabs you. That’s the beauty of the story and the writing because its very interesting to see the psychology of these people.
Q: The two of you star as the unsophisticated couple in the play. What was it like working with each other?
Adrian: Denise is a wonderful wonderful soul. There are some people who you want to work with upon seeing their work but its an extra bonus if you look forward to working with a certain person because you really like them as a person as well and as a bonus, they’re great at their job. So its always a pleasure to come into work. When it came to casting, it was immediate for Tracie and I.
Denise: And um… ditto. (Laughs) I’ll tell you this much, it is both terrifying but gratifying to work with Adrian Pang because he is someone of reputation and stature. He’s won awards and he’s very famous. Because of who he is, you know he has the chops, you feel a bit terrified because I hope I can measure up in some way. Its not like we have very few scenes together. It’s gratifying because you learn as you go along, you learn by observing and you take the cues and try to keep up.
Adrian: Considering I’m just making it up as I go along, its a huge responsibility. (Laughs)
Denise: That’s what I learnt too! Make things up! (Laughs) No, he’s a very generous share-er of space and words and craft so its really good.
Q: So just to end things off, why don’t you tell our readers what they can look forward to from Little Voice and Pangdemonium! in the coming years?
Adrian: Little Voice is possibly, I say this with some… I don’t know if reservation is the word, because for people who’ve followed our previous work, I don’t think they’d say “If you want a good laugh in the theatre, go see a Pangdemonium! show.” The stories we’ve chosen to tell have always been very human and have a lot of soul and heart.
So even this, which is ostensibly a feel good, heart-warming comedy with a lot of music, at the heart of it, it is a story of people being trapped in a situation they want out of and I think that’s very relate-able to anyone. And moving ahead, our last show for the year is called Frozen. No, not that Frozen.
Denise: “Let it go, let it go!”
Adrian: Its another one. That one probably goes back to out darker end of the spectrum again. And we’ve already confirmed 3 shows for next season. We’ve just been holding auditions for that over the last 3 weeks before we started rehearsals and we’ve found really exciting new talents coming out of La Selle and SOTA. That’s what keeps us going. No time to look back, always looking forward.
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice tickets on sale now!
Event Dates: 2nd May to 18th May 2014
Duration: Approximately 2hr 30 minutes (with approximately 15 minutes intervall
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
- 2nd May 2014 (Preview) – $60, $50, $30
- Weekdays/ Sundays and Matinees – $80, $65, $40
- Friday and Saturday Night – $88, $70, $50
Exclusive Cabaret tables are also available for you to enhance your Little Voice experience. These tables will be placed along the front of the stage and each patron will get to enjoy a performance of the show that’s uniquely up-close-and-personal, complete with 2 glasses of champagne!
- 4-seater table: $550
- 2-seater table: $275
Tickets for The Rise & Fall of Little Voice can be purchased from SISTIC.