The Lee Kuan Yew Musical, set to open in July, will highlight the late Mr Lee’s college life as well as the days leading up to independent Singapore. Actress Sharon Au will play Mr Lee’s wife Mdm Kwa Geok Choo.
SINGAPORE: Theatre veteran Adrian Pang will play Mr Lee Kuan Yew in an upcoming musical on Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, while Sharon Au will play his wife Mdm Kwa Geok Choo.
The main cast of Metropolitan Productions’ The Lee Kuan Yew Musical was revealed at a media conference on Monday (Apr 13).
The Lee Kuan Yew Musical commemorates Singapore’s 50th year of independence and will open on Jul 21 at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands.
“It is an opportunity to play such an iconic man shrouded in myth and legend,” said Pang of his role. “To uncover the man behind the myth will be endlessly fascinating.” He added that he has been busy internalising information on Mr Lee made available following his passing last month.
Adrian Pang speaks on playing Mr Lee Kuan Yew at a media conference for The LKY Musical. (Photo: Goh Chiew Tong)
As for Au, playing Mdm Kwa is a “role of a lifetime”. “I am sure every theatre actress would love to embrace the role of Mrs Lee. I was encouraged by my family and my friends to audition for the role, even though I am one of the least experienced entertainers in the industry,” she said.
She even would have “played a rickshaw puller”, as long as it meant she could be part of the show. “I wanted to volunteer to be the wardrobe mistress or someone who carried Adrian’s bag – anything, just for me to get into this project! Needless to say, it was extremely humbling to be selected to play Mdm Kwa Geok Choo. To me, she was and she is the perfect Asian wife and perfect Asian woman.”
Adrian Pang (left) and Sharon Au (right) will play Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in The LKY Musical. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)
The Lee Kuan Yew Musical will look at Mr Lee’s younger days, and is described by producers as “a tale of high drama, intrigue, betrayal, love and loyalty,” and “offers new insights into the emotional struggle faced by Lee Kuan Yew and his friends at a time when Singapore history balanced on a knife-edge”.
The musical also stars Sebastian Tan as rickshaw puller Koh Teong Koo and Benjamin Chow as trade union leader Lim Chin Siong.
The script is written by US playwright Tony Petito, the founding artistic director of the Singapore Repertory Theatre. It is based on a story by Singaporean writer Meira Chand, who had previously written books that look at issues surrounding culture and identity.
Dick Lee feels his musical score for The LKY Musical is his “best score to date”. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)
Music veteran Dick Lee will write the music for the production, which will be directed by Steven Dexter.
“When they first approached me, I was thinking ‘What is it (the music) going to be like? Is it going to be ‘LKY cha cha cha’? It is quite a serious story. I was a bit worried about how to make it into a musical.
“It is a challenge. But, later on, I felt no pressure and let go. Every moment in the show is quite dramatic. I just wrote the music which I felt,” said Dick Lee. He said he feels his score for The LKY Musical is his “best score to date” and called the project the biggest in terms of significance in his career.
“At the end of the day, it is an epic, but I didn’t present it in an epic way. If you take away the political significance, this is the story about a man and his dream, his drive, his determination to get to where we are today.”
The LKY Musical’s cast and creative team (from left): Dick Lee, Meira Chand, Sebastian Tan, Adrian Pang, Sharon Au, Benjamin Chow, along with Metropolitan Productions’ co-directors Tan Choon Hiong and Alvin Tan. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)
Metropolitan Productions co-director Tan Choon Hiong said The LKY Musical has been three years in the making, and described it as a “miraculous journey” for the “mega million-dollar” production to arrive at this stage.
Tan said the production team had met with the Media Development Authority over the musical “a few times” before being issued with an Arts Entertainment Licence. They are also thinking of inviting members of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s family to watch the show when it opens.