SRT & Esplanade Brings Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress Back In 2017

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Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress became one of the most successful made-in-Singapore musicals produced with over 100,000 tickets sold ever since it was first staged as part of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s Opening Festival in October 2002. Thanks to the overwhelming demand, Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) and Esplanade are delighted to bring Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress back to the Esplanade Theatre in August 2017.

It has all the right ingredients of a truly epic musical —a young imperial concubine in love, a dying Emperor, a heartless traitor, an idealistic artist and an empire that stands to fall. The musical sets a new standard for Singapore musical theatre, with stylised sets and stunning costume design. Told through the eyes of Kate Carl who is commissioned to paint the Empress’ portrait, the musical recounts Cixi’s trials and tribulations from a clever imperial concubine to a ruthless ruler to unmask the woman behind the painted face.

“We are very proud of this musical. In many ways it defines what SRT is and what Singapore is becoming – a place where the best artistic talent from Singapore and abroad congregate, collaborate and create. Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress is a unique Asian story, based on historical events, then crafted and presented for an international audience. It is emphatically stamped with a ‘Made in Singapore’ label.” – Gaurav Kripalani, Artistic Director for SRT

“Fifteen years since Esplanade commissioned Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress for our Opening Festival, we are delighted to bring this iconic musical back for audiences old and new to enjoy. Our collaboration with SRT to bring some of the most memorable theatre in the world to Singapore audiences is key to our role of making it possible for local arts groups to take greater risks in artistic choices and strengthen their producing capabilities. We are pleased to continue working closely with them and hope many will come to watch this musical which features some of Singapore and musical theatre’s best.” – Benson Puah, Chief Executive Officer, The Esplanade Co Ltd

The creative team behind the musical are familiar faces in the local art scene. Dick Lee, the internationally renowned songwriter and composer penned the music with lyrics by Olivier Award winner Stephen Clark. The Director, Steven Dexter, has worked with SRT on numerous musicals in the past including A Twist of Fate, Friend Rice Paradise and most recently The LKY Musical.

The story of the infamous Empress Dowager is helmed by a cast of international and Singapore stars. Home-grown singing sensation Kit Chan returns as the heroic Empress and is supported by a stellar cast which includes Sebastian Tan, Cheryl Tan and Life! Theatre Award winner Benjamin Chow. West End sensation Earl Carpenter (Les Miserables) and Broadway star Steffanie Leigh (Mary Poppins) also star in the musical.

Get Your Tickets Now

Preview Show (8 – 10 Aug 2017)

Standard: S$108, S$78, S$68, S$48 | VIP: S$118 | Premier Box A & B: S$118 | Restricted View: S$28

Tue – Thu Evening / Sat & Sun Matinee / Sun Evening Shows

Standard: S$118, S$98, S$78, S$58 | VIP: S$128 | Premier Box A & B: S$128 | Restricted View: S$38

Fri & Sat Evening Shows

Standard: S$128, S$108, S$88, S$68 | VIP: S$138 | Premier Box A & B: S$138 | Restricted View: S$38


Early Bird: 15% savings for Cat 1 & Cat 2 only. Valid till 9 Feb 2017. Applicable for 8 Aug – 20 Aug shows only.

Family Package of 4: 15% savings for Sat and Sun matinees shows. Valid from 26 Jan 2017 onwards. Applicable for Cat 1 & Cat 2 only

Watch with friends Packages: Plan a great evening at Forbidden City for friends, colleagues or family – and you will come as our guest. Special “Watch with Friends” packages available for groups of five and more for all shows. Applicable for Cat 1 & Cat 2 only.

Esplanade&Me Special Black Card: 15% savings (from 10 Feb 2017 onwards)  & White Card: 10% savings (Applicable to Cat 1 and 2 for 8 Aug – 20 Aug shows only]

For group booking, kindly contact Emmanuel at 6733 8166 or email [email protected].

For school booking, kindly contact James at 6733 8166 or email [email protected].

Tickets for Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress are available from Esplanade’s Box Office at Mezzanine Level (Tel: +65 6828 8389), the SISTIC Hotline (Tel: +65 6348 5555) and all SISITIC outlets from 26 January 2017. More information on the musical may also be found at

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