For expats in Singapore, why is The LKY Musical a must-see?
This production covers the turbulent period of Singapore’s history from Mr Lee’s school years, through the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the post-war struggles, and into Independence. It captures lighting in a bottle – a private glimpse of a very public man. It certainly will demystify him for many people who know him as a leader with a steely resolve and unwavering will.
How did you prepare for playing LKY?
There is a mountain of archival footage, and reams of literature, and I have delved into both. I’ve also spoken to individuals who knew him and interacted with him in his quiet moments. It was very insightful. Ultimately, it’s about trying to recapture the essence of the man in the context of this musicalised story.
How easy is it to step into his shoes?
When I played the role in 2015, I went through many moments of frustration and fear and self-doubt. How do you portray a man who is idolised as a hero by many and is also a figure of such controversy? The pressure was – and is going to be – enormous. In the end I cannot please everyone, and that is not the purpose of theatre anyway. I will shut out the noise and do the best job I can.
How long will you be rehearsing?
The first time this musical was staged a few years back, we rehearsed for seven weeks with script and song changes almost every day. This time round, we have just five weeks with some tweaks and embellishments.
What surprising things did you discover about LKY by taking this on?
Mostly things about his relationship with his wife Kwa Geok Choo. From what we can tell, they were a very devoted couple through thick and thin. She was his rock, especially in times of tremendous political strife. It seems to me that she gave him the strength to keep fighting even in his darkest hours. Many painful sacrifices had to be made.
Their relationship was a tender and inspiring one …
At the end of the day, it is personal and intimate relationships that matter; beyond politics, beyond personas, beyond the circus of public life, it is basic human connection – and yes, love – that will save humanity.
What are your favourite scenes or songs in the production?
I do take a perverse delight in LKY’s final “11 o’clock number”. It’s emotional, heartbreaking and cathartic. It’s also a bastard to sing through tears, but that’ll be close to curtain call and the bar, so I just look forward to that!
Where do you go after playing LKY?
Well, this we look forward to seeing!
Tickets for The LKY Musical are available from Singapore Repertory Theatre, srt.com.sg