Meet Rochee The Friendliest Cockroach at Esplanade's PLAYtime! 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

There are plenty of good theatre performances catered to older kids, but it is always a challenge to find suitable theatre performances for young children who are a little more sensitive to loud music and dark scenes. K is one such kid - she will say "I scared" or look worried when the sound gets too loud for her comfort and will keep asking to leave the room.

But ever since I discovered Esplanade's popular children's theatre series, PLAYtime!, K gets to enjoy children's performances just like all other kids! 

Esplanade's PLAYtime! series is interactive and fun, even for the accompanying adults!

PLAYtime! is a fun-filled theatre series specially catered to all children aged two to four. I am so glad that the people behind PLAYtime! also cater to children who have special needs or sensory sensitivities and offer sensory-friendly versions of their productions. 
I work quite extensively with different communities and want to see kids with special needs or who are at-risk to have access to quality theatre like everyone else. - Ian Loy, director of PLAYtime! Rochee The Friendliest Cockroach 
Our first encounter with Esplanade's PLAYtime! was at their sensory-friendly performance The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights. The theatre environment was a relaxed one and there was enough space for us to sit on the floor comfortably; the songs were catchy and continued to sing in my head for the next few days, and the cast didn't just perform - they interacted with the audience, a lot! The story chosen was simple to understand, with a strong message of love and friendship that young kids associate well with. And you know what? I felt myself transforming into a little kid, enjoying the beautiful story while singing and dancing to the music!

Rochee: The Friendliest Cockroach

I'm looking forward to bringing K for her next theatrical experience with PLAYtime! From 17 Feb to 5 Mar 2017, Esplanade's PLAYtime! will be presenting Rochee: The Friendliest Cockroach. This play is adapted from the local children's book Rochee: The Friendliest Cockroach which is written and illustrated by Gavin Goo.

I borrowed the book from the National Library Book to read the story and prep K for the show. This story is easy to read (good news for parents who have to read bedtime stories) and K can flip through the beautifully illustrated pages as a quiet activity.

The book tells of a cockroach named Rochee, who is friendly and helpful. However, the roach knows how difficult it is for him to make friends because people find him pesky, just like Glenny the girl. In fact, Glenny is so afraid of cockroaches that whenever she sees one, she either screams and runs away, or she will smack it. The story unfolds in a comical and heart-warming way, with Rochee trying his best to please Glenny, just so that he can be her friend. (Note that for the PLAYtime! performance, Rochee is a female roach.)

I am Rochee...
Mesmerising blue luminous balls that represent Glenny's tears
Glenny and Rochee become good friends!
My favourite parts of the show:
:: Rochee says "Ga-Juak!" (a hokkien word for cockroach). She uses it like an exclamation, during a think-aloud moment, and whenever, wherever. 

:: Props that are blown-up versions of household items like the Q-tips, bathing sponge, the "teardrops" which represent Glenny's tears.

:: That song! That song! "I am Rochee... I am lonely ... Come, everybody ... sing with me..." (Tell me if you find that song catchy too!)

Sensory-friendly performances

A sensory-friendly performance is meant to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment. All individiuals are welcome regardless of their sensory needs. However, changes have been made to the production and the atmosphere, and the experience might differ from a regular-setting show. 
There are 3 sensory-friendly shows for Rochee: The Friendliest Cockroach:

Tuesday, 28 Feb, 11am and 2pm; 
Saturday, 4 Mar 11am (all shows are 40 mins long, with no intermission)

If you are wondering what to expect for a sensory-friendly performance, read here for a detailed write-up from Esplanade. You can also download a Pre-Visit Guide for Families and a two-page Activity Sheet to get your child excited for the show.  

Timing for the regular-setting shows:  

Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio (Level 4, via the lift near Toastbox)
Pricing: $20/ticket (tickets are required for all patrons, including infants in arms)
Special discount: PIP Club's member gets to buy a package of 4 tickets at $72. 

Tickets can be purchased from SISTIC Authorised Agents, SISTIC hotline, and Esplanade Box Office at (65) 6828 8389.

Tickets for the regular shows | Tickets for the sensory-friendly shows

I highly recommend Rochee: The Friendliest Cockroach for all little ones! Be it the regular-setting or the sensory-friendly versions, your children (and you) will be in for many doses of laughs and actions! 

Disclaimer: The photos were taken at an exclusive preview of this production. 

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