I went to The LKY Musical with lots of anticipation and hoped that I would come away feeling inspired. I knew that with names like Dick Lee, Adrian Pang and Sebastian Tan, I would not be disappointed.
Playing to a full house despite having premiered for more than a week, The LKY Musical is indeed something of a treasure.
As the musical opened, and I saw the young Mr Lee (ADRIAN PANG) in Raffles College and his experiences during the Japanese Occupation and as a Cambridge student that affirmed his determination to fight for an independent Singapore, I felt my eyes well up again with tears.
It’s hard not to be emotional at a play that brings to life, Mr Lee’s struggles in those tumultuous fearful early years of nation building. Unfortunately, Mr Lee is no longer with us to grace this special musical tribute to him and his team of old guards. I wonder what he would have thought of the musical and would he have had comments.
As expected, Adrian Pang did a brilliant portrayal of the larger than life Mr Lee. But don’t go to the musical expecting to see Mr Lee Kuan Yew because there is only one true giant and he is no longer with us. Go expecting to see and feel all that he faced during those uncertain times. Go and see his courage and resolve to gain independence for our nation, to rid it of its colonial masters and to make life better for the people who live in it. Go and realise how he faced each difficulty and dangerours times head-on and stoically and made the best possible decision at every turn. I sat in The LKY Musical watching the talented Adrian Pang onstage and felt again that huge sense of loss on the morning of 23 March 2015. I was missing Mr Lee. That’s how good Adrian carried the role!
Yet The LKY Musical is not just about Mr Lee. I appreciated that it gave audiences the opportunity to ‘meet’ the Old Guards, the other founding fathers of Singapore – Mr Toh Chin Chye, Mr Goh Keng Swee and later Mr Rajaratnam.
In a scene where Mr Goh and Mr Toh visited the Lees’ home when they were all students in the UK, I realised how far these men go back to and how even then, they formulated their ideals for Singapore and sealed their determination to fight to remove colonial rule.
I really loved it when Mr Goh Keng Swee (EDWARD CHOY) explained Socialism, Capitalism and Communism with the economics of beer! GKS: “In Capitalism, only the wealthy get to own bottles of beer but they must let the government take a few sips every now and then. In Socialism, the government owns the beer and lets all of us take one sip, while in Communism, everyone gets their own bottle but …… they are all empty!!” Hahah!! It certainly sent the audience roaring with laughter!
BENJAMIN CHOW plays Lim Chin Siong, the political rival in the musical. We first saw Benjamin Chow as the Troll in SRT’s The Three Billy Goats Gruff and he was really impressive then. As Lim Chin Siong, Benjamin gave a convincing, forceful and endearing performance and his good acting and singing matched Adrian Pang’s. I walked away with new revelations about Lim Chin Siong, who in hearsay history was the guy to ‘hate’ as the communist enemy, and got a glimpse of the unusual friendship that both Mr Lee and Mr Lim shared. Perhaps, it was a kind of mutual respect and admiration but for the differing strong beliefs, vision and ideals that each man had for Singapore, one had to be sacrificed?
A lot has been said about the wrong casting choice of SHARON AU as Mdm Kwa Geok Choo and her lack of singing prowess. It is hard not to see Sharon as Sharon Au onstage and her normal bubbly excitable nature sneaks out occasionally despite her trying to speak deliberately and calmly (as I imagine Mrs Lee does). In her own right, her efforts were commendable. Perhaps if a lesser known/seen actress was chosen for the role, it would have gone down better with the critics. Weak link or not, if I was someone who hadn’t heard about Mrs Lee, I would still have gone away impressed with Mrs Lee’s intelligence and her dedication to her husband and his work.
I absolutely loved Koh Teong Koo (played by SEBASTIAN TAN) who is the rickshaw puller that saved Mr Lee’s life and represents The Every Man. Sebastian brings on his Broadway Beng charm and effortlessly provides much of the comic relief with his common man Hokkien Singlish chatter. The audience definitely roared when Mr Lee was fed ‘ber’ (porridge) intentionally to make him sick in the coolie quarters as he hid from the Japanese.
Something tells me that this play will NEVER go to Malaysia. haha… RADHI KHALID did a great job as Tunku Abdul Rahman, who first refused merger and than suddenly changed his mind to ‘take us in’ and later forced us out of the Federation. How brave to show the attitude of the Tunku in pushing all the ‘dirty work’ to Mr Lee, with pointed threats each time. Today, we can say we are glad that Singapore left the Federation and is our own country but back then, it was a matter of grave survival. We were being cast aside to die a little red dot! Tonight, you thank God for Harry!
I am told that it is already a sell out musical and rightly so too. If you have tickets or manage to get them, do Go! The music and lyrics, the talented cast, the set and everything is just not to be missed. I know that tonight, everyone walked out of the theatre totally inspired and having a new admiration for all that our founding fathers fought for to build the Modern Singapore that we are proud of today. I do hope that when the musical ends its run on 16 August 2015, it will not be the last time it is played in Singapore because many more people need to see it!
As in our earlier post, The LKY Musical is most definitely, this SG50 Jubilee year’s absolute Must Do & Must Watch, a fitting tribute not only Mr Lee but all our founding fathers. In the short two hours, Metropolitan Productions transported me back to a time when the tensions, struggles and dangers were real and made me truly so proud to be a Singaporean. Majulah Singapura!
~ SAys! Audrey
Disclaimer : We were invited to watch The LKY Musical for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed remain our own. Photographs unless otherwise stated are copyright of Metropolitan Productions.
About The LKY Musical
When : 21st Jul – 16th Aug 2015
Time : Tues – Fri (7.30PM) | Sat (3PM & 7.30PM) | Sun (1.30PM & 6PM) except for 9th Aug, Sun (1.30PM only)
Where : MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands (Map)
Duration: ~ 2 hours (excludes intermission)
Ticket Prices (*excludes booking fee) :
Preview (21 – 23 Jul)
VIP : S$130
A Reserve : S$88
B Reserve : S$78
C Reserve : S$68
D Reserve : S$58
Fri & Sat, 7.30pm
VIP : S$150
A Reserve : S$108
B Reserve : S$98
C Reserve : S$88
D Reserve : S$78
Tue – Thu, Sat 3pm & Sun
VIP : S$140
A Reserve : S$98
B Reserve : S$88
C Reserve : S$78
D Reserve : S$68