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That Girl in Pinafore Aims to Bring Back Xinyao Music

By InCinemas  /  05 Mar 2013 (Tuesday)

This movie will be the first Singaporean film in 15 years to celebrate the success of Xinyao (Singapore Chinese folk music) and re-introduce this style of music to a new generation. 

New music arrangements such as punk, rock ‘n’ roll and uptempo beats can be heard, not forgetting the teenage love romance between the leads that comes along.

There are many musical movies and television programme around, such as Glee, Smash and lately, the award-winning Les Miserables. That Girl in Pinafore aims to be the Singapore’s version of ‘Glee’ and what’s better than making something that is uniquely Singapore than Xinyao music! While director Chai Yee Wei admitted that he remade the popular tunes to attract the younger audiences here, the essence of Xinyao can be still heard.

The $1million production stars Daren Tan, Julie Tan and rising young stars Seah Jiaqing, Jayley Woo, Kenny Khoo, Hayley Woo, Kelvin Mun and Sherly Ng. While most of them were casted through a open casting call early last year, Kelvin Mun was talented spotted at McDonalds by Chai.

They recalled the incident and Chai revealed that he staked out at common youth hangout areas for days such as McDonalds and *Scape, in search for his talents. Mun laughed over the awkward encounter as he Googled Chai’s name on the spot when the director approached him with his name card, urging him to go for an audition.

In addition, Chai wanted the twins Hayley and Jayley Woo to be in his show as they ‘lighted the screen’ with their bubbly personalities. Even during interviews, the duo were seen bickering and poking fun at each other. When asked about sibling rivalry, Hayley was quick to answer that she will venture into other countries while Jayley will build her career in Singapore. 

The strong bond among the casts were vital for the movie that Chai made them go through a three-day ‘boot camp’ where they were first introduced to one another and bonded through team-building activities. 

Lead actor Daren Tan not only shed weight for this movie, he quit his 16 year-long smoking habit after Chai told him that it will affect his vocals in the long run. Both Daren and Julie shared their first on-screen kiss on the show and said ‘it went pretty well’.

That Girl in Pinafore tells the story of a coming-of-age tale about dreams, friendships, first love and their love for Xinyao music. It follows the story of four teenagers’ efforts to bring business back to a struggling folk music pub, and the blossoming love between Jiaming and May, both fans of Singaporean folk music. 

Through it, Jiaming and his friends learn the harsh realities of pursuing dreams in the real world and learn that choosing between your heart and societal expectations is akin to losing your innocence to the adult world. The eventual closure of the pub ‘Meng Chuan’ parallels the real world demise of the ‘Xinyao’ movement around the mid-90s.

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