Little Beng takes on Broadway

Little Beng takes on Broadway

Pint-sized Ian Lee behaves like any other primary school pupil.

The eight-year-old is bright-eyed, curious, giggly and loves hamming it up in front of the camera.

But he comes armed with a special language skill: He speaks perfect Hokkien and will be playing a miniature version of actor Sebastian Tan's alter ego, Broadway Beng.

Tan, 40, first performed with Ian in the Wild Rice pantomime Hansel & Gretel in December last year and was immediately intrigued when he found out that Ian could speak Hokkien.

Ian learnt the dialect from his grandparents, who converse with him in Hokkien.

From then on, Tan would speak to Ian in Hokkien whenever they bumped into each other. He says: "It's very rare nowadays that young children of his age can speak Hokkien."

The duo will be performing together at the Drama Centre Theatre from next Thursday at Tan's first full- length Broadway Beng show in three years. He had taken a break to gather new material and to keep the show fresh.

This fifth edition of the show will bring back its signature blend of stand-up comedy and Hokkien ditties as well as some short skits.

Tan earned the moniker of Broadway Beng from his background as a West End actor - he performed in Miss Saigon in 2004 - and also from his Singaporean roots as an "ah beng" from the heartland.

His revue, which grew from a tiny outfit at the DBS Arts Centre to a glitzy showcase at the Esplanade, also has a supporting cast of five "chio buus" (pretty women in Hokkien): actresses Denise Tan, Jacqueline Pereira, Judee Tan, Mina Ellen Kaye and Siti Khalijah.

This year, Broadway Beng will also feature tales from Tan's early life, including stories about his parents and relatives, hence Ian's presence on stage.

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