Ah Boys tread the boards

Ah Boys tread the boards
Ah Boys To Men the Musical - Wang Weiliang as Lobang.

The Ah Boys were a hit on the big screen, thanks to director Jack Neo's phenomenally successful Ah Boys To Men movies.

But now that there is a spin-off musical production, can the actors cut it live on stage?

The stage adaptation, which opened last Friday at Resorts World Sentosa's Resorts World Theatre, sees the original Ah Boys To Men cast reprise their much beloved roles.

There is a new addition in the form of local singer-musician Benjamin Kheng taking the part of spoilt lead recruit Ken Chow.

The character was played by Joshua Tan in the movies, but Tan could not be in the musical because he is studying in Australia. Ah Boys To Men: The Musical follows the misadventures of NS recruits Ip Man (Noah Yap) , Ken Chow (Kheng), Lobang King (Wang Weiliang) and Aloysius Jin (Maxi Lim) - under the watchful eye of Sergeant Ong (Tosh Zhang) - from enlistment day to their passing out parade.

We rank who emerged best recruit, and who has to knock it down.

1. WANG WEILIANG

Wang, 26, is a natural on stage. From his convincing acting to his smooth, flawless delivery, he stood out and stole the limelight. The musical allowed the getai singer to shine more than he did in the movie since he could showcase his strong vocals. He belted out a few songs and hit all the right notes and high pitches with ease.

"Due to the excitement after our first performance, I could not sleep and stayed up till 4am watching television." - Wang Weiliang

2. TOSH ZHANG

The 24-year-old's popularity was evident from the cheers he received the moment he appeared on stage. His tall stature (he is 1.81m tall) gave him a strong stage presence, which was helped by his booming voice and accurate enunciation. Extra points to Zhang for showing off his rapping skills, something not seen in the movie.

"We have trained so hard for the past few months and the reaction we got was just amazing. All the hard work we put in did not go to waste." - Tosh Zhang

3. BENJAMIN KHENG

The singer with local indie band The Sam Willows had big shoes to fill. But Kheng, 23, was able to pull it off and his strong singing voice helped. He also sang the most among the cast.

"The show is physically tiring, rehearsals were long with lots of choreography and drill sessions. But (it was) really fun as the cast is simply crazy. As for playing Ken, I revisited the Ah Boys To Men movies and called upon my own National Service experiences." - Benjamin Kheng

4. MAXI LIM

Lim, 26, oozed confidence as irritating Wayang King Aloysius and shared strong chemistry with the cast. This was especially so in scenes with Wang as their characters constantly bicker.

"When it comes to acting, I used to feel that theatre is the last place I want to be. However, after the musical, my passion for acting was re-ignited and I enjoy being on stage." - Maxi Lim

5. NOAH YAP

There was a lot of potential for Yap to shine, since he was given the opportunity to act opposite comedy queen Patricia Mok, playing her boyfriend. However, nerves seem to have got the better of him. The 21-year-old "baby" of the gang did not articulate his lines properly, making him inaudible at times.

"I was really nervous during the first performance and was trembling, hopefully no one noticed." - Noah Yap

This article was published on April 21 in The New Paper.

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