Songs for adulting in a big city

Published on 4 December 2018

The combined cast of Island Song, from left: Lu Zhengjie, Hoe Wei Qi, Sarah Koh, Michael Chee and Samantha Tsang. (Photo: SoDa Players)

Eleni Sardi

Twenty-four years after the hit American sitcom Friends first came on air, it is still as popular as ever. Its cultural impact can be felt every time someone utters the words: “It’s like that episode in Friends when…”.

The sitcom resonates a quarter of a century on, in part because of its likeable characters and comedic dialogue, but also because of its evergreen plot – of 20- and 30-somethings trying to make it in the big city. A recent iteration of this story is seen in the musical play, Island Song, by Sam Carner, Derek Gregor, and Marlo Hunter.

Island Song, which premiered in 2016 in New York, is about young adults learning to navigate life and relationships in New York City. Its universal theme of urban anxieties caught the attention of Singapore theatre director Chong Gua Khee, and the play will open this Friday at the Centre 42 arts centre in Waterloo Street.

It is staged by the SoDa Players, a group of musical theatre enthusiasts who pursue their interests in the arts seriously in their spare time.

For Chong, lsland Song spoke to him on a personal level. She says: “As a teenager, I always thought that when I become an adult, I will know what to do, or that I will know how things should work out.

“However, as an adult now, I realise that I’m still searching and trying to find my way in life. In my conversations with people older than me, they also echo similar thoughts. Perhaps there’s never really an end to this sense of finding your way, just that along the way, you meet people and make friends and form communities, and so, ultimately, you’re not alone on this ride.”

The play’s characters face dilemmas such as choosing between a career or settling down, and taking a chance on a career that their parents do not approve; nothing out of the ordinary, no matter which city these tensions play out onstage.

So, we ask the cast to share lyrics from the musical that sum up the adulting mantra of their characters. Read on for inspiration, and comfort, perhaps.

Sarah Koh, who plays the go-getter corporate lawyer, Jordan

“Let’s get going.” This short and sweet line sums up what it is like in a bustling city where nothing really stops, where you must move at the city’s speed to get on with life. It is also a call to not get hung up on failures, but to keep on moving forward and scaling greater heights.

Hoe Wei Qi, who plays the bohemian-spirited office worker, Caroline

“They must be crazy too, to go through what we do.” This lyric captures how living in a city is not easy, but everyone is trying to make it work for themselves – on their own terms and in different ways, and there is a sense of solidarity in this.

Lu Zhengjie, who plays the family-driven architect, Will

“Somehow, it’s much lonelier here, in the city.” This line sums up the paradox of city-living, where you are in constant physical proximity to others, but at the same time you find it difficult to form connections because everyone has their own concerns and interests.

Michael Chee, who plays the hungry actor, Cooper

“So many different windows are lit up tonight! They shine like stars as I’m standing here below. So many possibilities are filling my sight now.” This speaks of the endless possibilities in the city and how every day is a chance for something exciting to happen. We just need to keep our eyes open, so that we know to seize the opportunities when they come.

Samantha Tsang, who plays the neurotic dilettante Shoshana

“Maybe today.” This sentiment threads its way through the entire musical; this hope, wish, desire is something that keeps pushing, Shoshana at least, forward in life.

 

Details about Island Song here.

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