SINGAPORE – After two years of pandemic restrictions, the home-grown blockbuster musical returns to the spotlight with a bang. The LKY Musical, about Singapore’s founding premier Lee Kuan Yew, returns to the stage from Sept 7 at the Sands Theatre.

Theatre veteran Adrian Pang will reprise his Life Theatre Award-winning role as the late Mr Lee, while Mandopop singer and actress Kit Chan will portray Mr Lee’s wife Kwa Geok Choo, previously played by actress Sharon Au during the musical’s premiere in 2015.

The musical is produced by entertainment production house Aiwei and Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT), with story by Meira Chand and music by Dick Lee. It will also star Sebastian Tan and Benjamin Chow – who previously won an ST Life Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing politician Lim Chin Siong. 

Pang, 56, says he is full of anticipation and gratitude to be able to return to the role after seven years. “The pandemic has reinforced my long-held belief that not just theatre but the arts are essential to all our lives. They have continued to sustain our spirits through the last two and a half years.”

He is several years older and has not sung for a while, but what he finds most daunting is sharing a stage with Chan. “She is known to have this kicka** voice, it’s going to be very scary for me.”

He adds with a laugh: “But I’m up for any challenge, bring it on.”

On May 4, Kit Chan took to Instagram to showcase a series of photos of her with Adrian Pang in costume and makeup as the former Prime Minister and his wife.

She wrote, “I am so excited to be playing Ms Kwa Geok Choo aka Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in The LKY Musical opening on 7 Sept! I know it’s a long way still, and we haven’t started rehearsals proper, but doing this shoot with @davidtanphotography , I was already amazed at the physical transformation that can happen with a costume, a wig, the right makeup and accessories, and a fellow actor @therealadrianpang with whom one has chemistry with.”

The 49-year-old, who has not been in an English-language musical since Forbidden City: Portrait Of An Empress by SRT in 2017, says she is a “huge fan” of Mr Lee. “I always have been and I did read his memoir.”

She aims to explore the seemingly “infallible” politician’s more vulnerable side through the Lees’ love story, a source of intrigue to her. “Many of us see Mrs Lee as this quietly strong, elegant character but I think she’s quite a rebel and I’m probably going to use a lot of my imagination.”

She says she will not over-prepare for the role. Rather, she wants her interactions with the other actors to be as organic as possible. She is also excited to create a new chemistry with Pang.

“Everyone wants to feel like they can go out and celebrate the dawn of this new era and I think the show reflects the journey we have made as a nation to come together to overcome troubled times.”

For more details, visit SRT’s website.

Text: Lauren Chian/The Straits Times Additional reporting: Michelle Lee

This article was first published on April 26, 2022, and updated on May 5, 2022.