Photo credit: Dream Academy

Detention Katong delivered more hits than misses

While Detention Katong was a musical delight, at times, I was left feeling like I was stuck in detention instead.

Anisah Azmi

Published: 20 February 2017, 12:00 AM

If you’re looking for a play that will transport you to the good old days in secondary school, this might be it.

Dream Academy’s Detention Katong, held at the Esplanade Theatre, takes place in Geylang Girls’ Secondary School, where good and bad girls live out their teenage years.

The musical, written and directed by Selena Tan, revolves around the life of goody-two-shoes Amanda Chin, played by the fresh-faced Valerie Choo, and her struggles with her single mother, who seems to be hiding a secret.

Her longing for her mother’s attention lands her in detention with the bad girls, where she is faced with a dilemma – are good girls really all that good, and are bad girls simply bad?

Here are five things I got out of the musical comedy, Detention Katong.

1. Catchy tunes you can’t get out of your head.

With big names composing and arranging the songs, such as Benjamin Kheng of The Sam Willows, Dave Tan from Electrico, and DJ Aldrin Quek, the songs behind Detention Katong were of top quality.


Amanda (far left) and her band of good girls sang their lungs out during their musical numbers.


From soul-shaking ballads to sexy jazz numbers, the musical explored a range of genres and hit each one out of the ball park.

Each and every actor must have undergone intensive vocal training as they sounded brilliant, especially up and coming star, Valerie Choo and seasoned performer Sebastian Tan, more commonly known as Broadway Beng.

2. Thank god for comic relief!

Detention Katong featured a mix of fresh-faced and seasoned actors, as well as local YouTube sensations. One thing is for sure, the star-studded cast also tickled our funny bones!


You might remember Suhaimi Yusof from local comedy series, The Noose.


Suhaimi Yusof, a popular name amongst most Singaporeans, played the resident PE teacher with a lepak (laid-back in Malay) attitude. His happy-go-lucky demeanour and one-liners had the audience roaring with laughter, and he even led a memorable, hip-jerking jazz number.

Singer-songwriter Inch Chua was another stand-out performer, albeit a little rough around the edges. Her tomboyish hawker character, Serene, wasn’t afraid of saying it as it is.


Munah Bagharib (far left) of popular comedic YouTube duo MunahHirzi also left us in giggles with her snappy comebacks.


3. You will be transported back to secondary school.

As I watched Detention Katong, I remembered my time in detention as well, such as preparing myself for a scolding while standing in the principal’s office, and dozing off in the late afternoon during detention.

Hearing the no-nonsense discipline mistress’ idiom-filled one-liners also reminded me of the times I struggled to keep a straight face during morning assembly.

I was glad I could immerse myself in a little bit of the past, even for a while!


The discipline mistress was played by Neo Swee Lin, who is better known for her role in local sitcom, Phua Chu Kang.


4. Please detain the cheesiness!

While the musical was generally witty, there were a few cheesy moments that left me wincing in my seat.

Some jokes came off as trying too hard, and the teenage angst in the musical seemed somewhat overplayed.


Teenage angst and acts of rebellion were aplenty during the two-hour long musical.


One of the most cringe-worthy moments was when Amanda made up with her mother through a song. They ended with parts of the nursery rhyme ‘Humpty Dumpty’, with a couple of kiddish actions.

Needless to say, my face was scrunched up, wondering what I just watched.

5. A plot which packed more of a pinch than a punch

While the show started out exciting with a brewing scandal between an unknown girl from Geylang Girls’ Secondary School and an outside boy, it only tumbled downwards from there, leaving me feeling quite underwhelmed.

Not only was it quite predictable, the show felt like a drag at some points, with musical breaks that felt like filler scenes.

Perhaps the musical could have ended with a clearer message, because I couldn’t figure out what else to take away from the performance.


At least we had a romantic duet and dance number with Neo Swee Lin (left) and Sebastian Tan (right)!


For those fresh out of secondary school, Detention Katong is a musical that will have you reminiscing about the good old days of detention and teenage angst. Even if it’s been a few years since you’ve graduated, the musical might leave you humming the tunes of the musical long after you’ve stepped out of the theatre!

Detention Katong is now showing at the Esplanade Theatre till 5 Mar, 2017. Head here for more details.

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