Beauty World returns darker and grittier

Singapore's landmark musical gets a revival, winning us over with its simple story about love and identity.

Vinny Chiam

Published: 16 November 2015, 5:07 PM

Created and written by Michael Chiang with director and music composer Dick Lee, Beauty World returned for a re-staging since its debut in 1988.

While there are no major changes to the plot, Beauty World returned with a darker tone than the original.

The musical opens with the iconic musical number, ‘Beauty World (Cha-Cha-Cha)’, as an introduction to Beauty World. Set in the 1960s, the musical follows the story of Ivy Chan Poh Choo (Cheryl Tan) from Batu Pahat, who embarks on a journey to find her father in Singapore.

With the help of her pen pal Rosemary (Frances Lee), Ivy, who was abandoned as a baby in a beauty parlour, sets on a journey to the sleazy nightclub to find out about her past.

However, the only clue that she has about who her father is is a jade pendant that was left behind by the man who abandoned her.


Ivy (third from the left) gets a lesson on how to be a cabaret girl by Lily (far left), Rosie (second from the left) and Daisy (far right).


While undercover, Ivy crosses paths with Lulu (Jeanette Aw), the cabaret queen in Beauty World, who later grew jealous of Ivy’s rising popularity.

As her adventures in Beauty World continues, Ivy finds herself getting closer with each of the cabaret members, especially the nightclub’s bouncer, Ah Hock (Timothy Wan).

Unknowingly, Ivy finds herself caught in a love triangle when her boyfriend, Frankie Wong Fei Hong (Joshua Lim), came all the way from Batu Pahat to look for her and take her home.

As a whole, the musical managed to leave a strong impression. Each cast member did a phenomenal job in both the singing and acting department. Malaysian actress Cheryl Tan managed to capture Ivy Chan’s innocence and determination perfectly with her performance and vocals.

Local actor Joshua Lim, whose resume includes MediaCorp’s Code of Law, also gave a heartfelt performance as Ivy’s boyfriend. His rendition of the musical number ‘Ivy’ to profess his love was notable and earned him a big round of applause from the audience.

If there was a weak link in the musical, it would be local actress Jeanette Aw. Throughout her musical performances, she appeared vocally overwhelmed by the rest of the cast members.

However, when she was on stage, it was clear why she was cast for the role of Lulu. Her performance in Beauty World was perfect as she gave off the vibe of a cunning and manipulative cabaret queen easily without even any lines.


Lulu (Jeanette Aw) as the cabaret queen of beauty world.
Photo credits: Alfred Phang


Amidst the catchy music, witty lyrics, and glittery costumes, the musical not only showed us the glamourous side of Beauty World, it also showed us the darker, and at times, sinister parts of it.

It is not difficult to see why Beauty World remains as one of Singapore’s most popular and well-loved musicals.

Beauty World is showing at The Victoria Theatre until December 12. Get your tickets here.

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