Dream Academy Productions
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Dream Academy Productions is a private theatre production company established by local actress and comedian Selena Tan in 2000. The company is well known for its series of popular stand-up comedies featuring music and satire, including the popular Dim Sum Dollies and Broadway Beng stage productions. Besides theatre productions, Dream Academy also provides hosting services for corporate events.
Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law in 1994 and worked as a litigation lawyer for several years. In 1997, she quit the legal profession to pursue a career in theatre. In 1999, she made her debut as a stand-up comic in Selena Exposed, a one-woman revue that performed for three nights to sell-out audiences. After doing some research and consulting ex-colleagues, she founded Dream Academy Productions in February 2000 using her own savings of S$13,000. Since then, she has acted, directed, produced and run the marketing, funding and ticketing businesses for the company.
In June 2006, Tan set up two Dream Academy subsidiary groups: Dream Academy Playhouse, which produces smaller scale productions, and Dream TV, which develops television projects. Dream Academy Productions remained the main company producing blockbuster shows.
Unlike most non-profit theatre companies in Singapore, Dream Academy is a private limited company that pays taxes on its profits and does not receive government funding. Tan has stated that her aim when she established the company was for it to be economically viable as a business. The company made its first profit after four years.
Dream Academy usually stages at least two productions a year. In line with its aim of encouraging Singaporeans to laugh at themselves, it has produced popular stand-up comedies focusing on Singapore society and culture such as PS21+ positive signs, a musical comedy that spoofs public servants; It Takes Two; Wanton Me; and The Hossan Leong Show. Kumar, the Queen and the sequel Kumar: Stripped Bare and Standing Up, featuring local cross-dressing comedian Kumar and focusing on sexual themes, were rated R18 by the Media Development Authority (MDA) and were well received by local audiences.
Broadway Beng, a multilingual stand-up comedy featuring an English, Mandarin and Hokkien-speaking character played by actor Sebastian Tan, has had a long run due to its success in spoofing local social and political events and issues. Broadway Beng was so successful that Tan is reportedly writing a semi-autobiographical screenplay based on the stage production that will be produced by Dream Academy Productions.
Dream Academy’s most successful and well-known productions to date, however, feature the Dim Sum Dollies, a flamboyant trio comprising Tan and actresses Pamela Oei and Emma Yong. Debuting in 2003, the Dim Sum Dollies stage productions are built around light-hearted and satirical song-and-dance numbers about life in Singapore, and have traditionally received an overwhelming response. Dim Sum Dollies: The History of Singapore, for instance, sold 25,000 tickets over a 10-day run at the Esplanade Theatre in July 2007. Due to its popularity, local department store Tangs selected the trio to endorse its Great Singapore Sale advertising campaign in 2004. In 2010, the trio again entered the national spotlight when it became the face of a Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) courtesy campaign featuring the tagline “Love Your Ride”.
Selected list of productions
2000 : PS21+ positive signs; Medicares (MCs sold separately)
2003 : The Dim Sum Dollies in Steaming!
2004 : Wanton Me!; The Revenge of the Dim Sum Dollies
2005 : It Takes Two; Dim Sum Dollies: Singapore’s Most Wanted
2006 : Broadway Beng!; The Little Shop of Horrors
2007 : Multiple Personalities Disorder!; Broadway Beng Returns; Dim Sum Dollies: The History of Singapore; Kumar, "The Queen"; A Crazy Christmas!
2008 : Selena Tan: One Singular Sensation; Broadway Beng 3: You Can't Keep A Good Beng Down!; Seriously Hossan: The Pianofunny Man; Happy Robin: Singing and Swinging; Another Crazy Christmas 2009 : Kumar: Stripped Bare and Standing Up; SING DOLLAR! The Musical Comedy About Money; The Hossan Leong Show!; Broadway Beng: Jiak Liu Lian!
2010 : The Hossan Leong Show! (Episode 2); Crazy Christmas 2010
2011 : Kumar's Amazing Race
In March 2010, Dream Academy Productions received an award at the 10th Life! Theatre Awards for Best Ensemble (Emma Yong, Hossan Leong, Kumar, Lim Kay Siu, Najip Ali, Pamela Oei, Sebastian Tan and Selena Tan) in the performance SING DOLLAR! The Musical Comedy About Money. Although the company had been nominated in 2007 in the Best Supporting Actor category for The Little Shop of Horrors, this was the first time it had been recognised at the Life! Theatre Awards.
Joyce Y. Lim
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The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Theater--Production and direction--Singapore
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