FORMER MediaCorp actress and host Sharon Au said she is nothing like Kwa Geok Choo, the late Cambridge-educated lawyer wife of Lee Kuan Yew.
Au, 40, faces one of her biggest challenges yet, taking on the larger-than-life role in Metropolitan Productions' upcoming The LKY Musical, which opens at Marina Bay Sands' MasterCard Theatres on July 21.
Calling it the "role of a lifetime", she acknowledges that she is one of the least experienced members of a cast which includes veteran actor Adrian Pang as the late founding prime minister and comedian Sebastian "Broadway Beng" Tan as a rickshaw puller, an everyman named Koh Teong Koo.
Au, who auditioned for the part, said yesterday at the first major press conference for the musical: "It was extremely humbling to be accepted to play Madam Kwa Geok Choo.
"It would have been sufficient for me if I could just play a rickshaw puller...I just wanted to be part of this project. I wanted to volunteer as a wardrobe mistress, or someone to carry Adrian's bag."
The casting for the roles of Madam Kwa and another major real-life figure - Mr Lee's late political rival Lim Chin Siong - was revealed at the press conference, held yesterday morning at the top floor of the OUE Bayfront building.
Newcomer Benjamin Chow will play Mr Lim. The casting of Pang was revealed earlier last month.
Referencing Andrew Lloyd Webber's well-known 1978 musical, Metropolitan Productions director Tan Choon Hiong said: "We have world-class musicals like Evita, which is about the life of Eva Peron, an Argentinian politician, but why is there no world-class musical about the Singapore story?"
The LKY Musical, which clocks in at 21/2 hours, hopes to fill that void, and is one of three stage and film productions this year which feature Mr Lee. The other two are Singapura: The Musical and 1965.
The LKY Musical traces his life story over a period of about 20 years, from his early days in Raffles College to Singapore's independence in 1965.
It boasts an experienced production team including veteran composer and musician Dick Lee and London-born author Meira Chand, who will be writing the story for the musical.
In response to a question about similarities between her and Mrs Lee, Au - an executive at MediaCorp - was quick to answer: "There are no similarities at all between me and the icon. To me, she was, and she is, the perfect Asian wife and the perfect Asian woman."