So… once in a blue moon, and sometimes not even then , a job comes along that makes it all worth while . In 30 years of working on home soil , rarely working in places more glamorous than Cardiff or Canterbury ( lovely as they are ) , I have never worked as an Actor abroad. Until now.
The agent called . ‘ I’ve had a message from a company in Singapore Tom. They are doing a Christmas show and want to audition you for King Rat. Flights and accommodation sorted plus a decent fee’ . ‘ Great! ‘ I replied , rather too casually , as though these kind of chances come my way every day . ‘ I’ll have to check , but I think I’m feee ‘ . I knew , of course , I was free before checking but one has to at least pretend to be in demand . One ‘ Skype’ audition ( another first ) later , I’d got the job . A month in Singapore , performing at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel . Google it . We are seriously not talking ‘ Travelodge ‘ .
The journey itself was an adventure . As someone more used to the cattle shed workings of RyanAir and Easy Jet , the more civilised experience of Swiss Air made me excited about air travel for the first time in a lot of years . Free drinks . Decent food . In flight entertainment . And the best bit ….. someone waiting at the airport with my name on a piece of card . I felt , for a short while at least . just a little bit important !
I’m staying with Ellie and Charlie , two lovely ladies who work for the company . The accommodation used to be the old barracks , apparently, from the days when Singapore had a strong colonial military presence . All very roomy and , crucially , air conditioned Air conditioning is everywhere here and it really has to be . Its incredibly humid . One short walk is enough to make you sweat buckets and its just a huge relief to get indoors and cool again . As hot as it is , it also very wet at times with most mornings so far seeing major thunder storms .
It was a few days before I could head downtown . Rehearsals began straight away and take up all the day – leaving just enough time to get food and acclimatised . When Friday came , though , I was not going to waste the opportunity .
Its always difficult , isn’t it , to know where to start when you go to a new place . People kindly make suggestions but its impossible to cover everything . There needs, I think , to be some sort of plan otherwise you just wander aimlessly around not really knowing where to go . I had heard about a good Blues Bar called The Crazy Elephant ‘ . It seemed a good bet . I know I like Blues and it seemed to be in a decent , lively part of town so I headed there . I took the tube ( the MRT ). packed with commuters with heads in their phones ( nothing changes there ! ) and had to marvel at the sheer spotlessness of it all . There is just no litter here . People don’t do it …end of . If they did , they would face a serious fine but you get the impression they wouldn’t dream of it anyway . Same goes for public eating and drinking …..it doesn’t happen .
The bar was tremendous . A great band ( they even came and chatted between sets ) and a brilliant vibe that screamed ‘ happy ‘ rather than ‘ things may kick off’ ‘ . The only downside is the price of a pint . Around a tenner . Ouch . Might explain the lack of pissed up revellers ….people just can’t afford to be bladdered !
Day 2 of my two days off took me to the heart of Singapore – the Marina Bay . If you ever see a picture of this city , this will probably be the image . Huge, sky splitting buildings , that didn’t even exist before 2005 , framing a glittering bay peppered with brightly lit, pretty boats . And right in the middle, the Marina Bay Sands hotel….the venue for this show . Three massive towers , topped with what looks like a sleek submarine ….a bit like a giant set of glittery cricket stumps, complete with bails . It seriously takes your breath away .
More to report in part two ….including a ‘ Benny Hill ‘ type chase through Singapore and more on the reason I’m here …..the show itself .