Ah Boy to man up

Two days ago, the unexpected happened to Ah Boys To Men star Noah Yap.

His enlistment letter, which he thought would come only later this year, arrived in his letter box.

The local actor has to enlist in the army on May 14.

After recovering from the shock, he decided that he would make the most of his remaining three weeks of "freedom" - which ironically happens to be immersing himself in his role as a recruit in the Ah Boys To Men: The Musical.

It is on at the Resorts World Theatre in Resorts World Sentosa till May 4.

Among the cast, which includes Wang Weiliang, 27, Tosh Zhang, 24, Maxi Lim, 27 and Benjamin Kheng, 23, Yap is the only one who has not served national service.

He was previously studying at the Nanyang Academy Of Fine Arts.

The 21-year-old told The New Paper: "I'm going to keep a low profile by shutting up. I will do as I'm told. In real life, I'm very obedient.

"I don't want to give my army mates the impression that I'm making a fuss about anything," he said. Yap said he wants to "experience the army just like everyone else".

When asked if he would oblige army mates who are fans, he said he does not consider himself famous.

"It's nice to receive all this support. If someone wants an autograph for his relative or something, I'll sign it, but I think after that, it would be quite awkward between us," he said.

SWITCHED LETTERS

Yap has already been the victim of a prank, thanks to his cheeky fellow cast members.

On Tuesday night, he took his enlistment letter to the show and showed it to them during rehearsals.

Before he went on stage, Yap realised that his letter had gone missing.

In a scene during the musical, the boys receive their enlistment letters.

The other boys had stolen Yap's enlistment letter and swopped the prop letter with the real deal.

For Yap, he had to hide his shock so the show could go on.

He said: "First thing I thought was, 'What the hell! Must be Ben or Tosh'. All of them were laughing backstage during my scene."

Yap said he is not like IP Man, his character in the movie and musical. IP Man is sensitive, cries easily and is all nerves when his head gets shaved.

Yap, in contrast, hopes to take every challenge in his stride, including his impending enlistment.

The lanky 1.71m-tall YouTube personality is secretive about his weight though he was open about wanting to join the SAF Music and Drama Company.

He said: "I'm not worried because filming the two Ah Boys movies and doing this musical has prepared me for NS. So the mystery (of NS) has been eliminated in a sense.

"My only goal is that I would love to become very buff. It's a new phase in life and I'm just going to be myself," he added.

Time to man up, other Ah Boys say

We asked Noah Yap's fellow Ah Boys To Men cast members to give him advice on surviving the army. They also share their best and worst moments in national service.

WANG WEILIANG:

"Noah, finish your two years well and don't play, play!

"Learn as much as you can and don't have a sense of entitlement and don't geng (Hokkien for malinger). It will be harder when you are marked. I know because I used to geng a lot.

"You may not meet nice platoon mates like us, no steady lobang (Malay slang for tip) brother like me so take care of yourself."

BEST MOMENT: When I realised I was more mature and had a better sense of responsibility because of NS. I used to think it was a waste of time, but in the end I realised that it is a form of training for life.

WORSE MOMENT: I geng-ed too much and missed the important chance to bond with my bunk mates, which is a pity.

TOSH ZHANG:

"Take each day as it comes, be open-minded and adaptable to situations and people. Time will fly by and before you know it, your ORD day is here."

BEST MOMENT: During BMT, when I went through a lot with my mates, especially during field camp. We laughed, cried and grew together. The moments when we trained in the jungle under relentless heat, when we braved rainstorms together in our mud-soaked uniforms.

WORST MOMENT: The day I enlisted. I felt lost not knowing what to expect at all.

MAXI LIM:

"Noah, finally this is your Ah Boys To Men moment.

"You're the last boy in our group and I hope NS will help you mature and make you a better person."

BEST MOMENT: When I caught a 'suicide bomber' during a live exercise. My buddies and I were sent deep into our camp facilities and the 'suicide bomber' was extremely evasive. I had him cornered, bashed and tied up with my toggle rope.

WORST MOMENT: When I was in field camp during basic military training, it was raining so heavily that a slope (I was sleeping on) became a waterfall.

BENJAMIN KHENG:

"You will probably be the most experienced recruit in the history of the SAF, but you'll still kena tekan.

"Be nice to the people around you. And don't bash the wayang king like we do with Maxi (not too much at least)."

BEST MOMENT: Getting my marksman badge for range. It was night and raining, my scope was fogged up and I couldn't see a thing. How I got a full score in the end, I'll never comprehend.

WORST MOMENT: My BMT field camp where it rained four out of six nights and I slept in a mud-filled shell-scrape.

cchar@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 24 in The New Paper.

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