What should I watch?

What should I watch?
PHOTO: Metropolitan Productions, MM2 Entertainment

Last week was election day for me.

I had to elect whether to watch LKY in The LKY Musical or watch LKY in the movie, 1965.

Why? Because SG50.

Next Sunday is National Day.

Very soon (at least one hopes), our long national branding exercise that is sticking the SG50 logo on everything from fish cakes to Hello Kitty will be over.

By the way, I've placed my order for the McDonald's SG50 Hello Kitty Collector's Set. Have you?

And I've already received my SingPost SG50 Hello Kitty Plush Collectible Set. Have you?

This raises the question: If I'm such a patriot that I can get both the McDonald's and SingPost SG50 Hello Kitty sets, why can't I see both The LKY Musical and the 1965 movie?

The answer: The LKY Musical and the 1965 movie are no Hello Kitty.

Watching a musical or a movie requires me to commit at least three hours of my life commuting to and from the theatre, and actually sitting down to watch the damn thing.

Whereas with my Hello Kitty sets, I can just get them and put them on the shelf where they will collect dust until the Earth dies.

So it's either the musical or the movie. Not both.

To help make my decision, I've read the reviews of both shows and narrowed it down to three factors.


Depending on where and what day of the week you want to see the movie, a ticket can cost from $8.50 to $13, maybe cheaper if you're a Safra member or have the right credit card.

But the cheapest ticket for the musical is $50 for a "restricted view" on certain days of the week.

For 50 bucks, I could watch 1965 at least three times with enough change to buy a few SG50 fish cakes. That is, if I were a masochist. Advantage 1965.

Star Power

The musical stars Adrian Pang and Sharon Au.

The reviews are pretty much unanimous in praising Pang's portrayal of Mr Lee Kuan Yew - and panning Au's portrayal of Mrs Lee.

The Straits Times said that Pang "carries the part with finesse and grace", but Au is "a shadow of her character, struggling with musical segments and quickly fading into the background".

Today newspaper said that Pang "carries the show as Lee, capturing the man's fears, frustrations and unwavering tenacity in pushing for change".

It added that Au "proves to be the cast's weakest link, with brittle delivery and pitiful singing skills".

By the way, Today is published by MediaCorp, where Au also works as an executive in the strategic development department.

Wow. How bad do you have to be that even your own company doesn't give you face?

Two other MediaCorp artists, Joanne Peh and her husband Qi Yuwu, are arguably the biggest stars in the 1965 movie.

But frankly, the only thing involving Peh and Qi I'm interested in seeing is Qi's video of Peh, who is due to give birth soon, delivering the baby.

Unfortunately, Qi has said that although he plans to be in the delivery room with Peh, someone else will be carrying the camera.

I volunteer.

Advantage The LKY Musical because of Pang. I'm also curious to see just how much Au actually sucks.

The LKY Factor

The musical is called The LKY Musical. So you know that it's all about LKY.

And that it's a musical.

But Mr Daniel Yun, the executive producer and co-director of 1965, has made it a point to clarify that his movie is "not a biopic of Lee Kuan Yew" but "a dramatic thriller based on historical events", presumably set in 1965.

Why does Mr Yun feel the need to make such a clarification?

Because as far back as 2010, it was reported that he was planning "a political thriller based on Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's struggle for Singapore's independence".

So now Mr Yun is backtracking? Did Amos Yee get to him?

The Business Times said that as LKY, "Lim Kay Tong steals the show in 1965" but he appears for only a few minutes in the movie.

The review gave 1965 a C+ grade and suggests that "maybe it would have worked better as a biopic of Mr Lee instead".

So the movie suffers from a case of LKY no enough.

Advantage The LKY Musical.

My decision

To celebrate SG50, I elected to see the show that best represents how Singapore has achieved the impossible after being forced out of Malaysia in 1965 to be its own nation led by LKY - at least in the title.

That's right. I went to see Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

Cue Lalo Schifrin's theme song.

This article was first published on August 2, 2015.
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