'A stolen look into their private life together': Adrian Pang and Kit Chan reunite to play Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in musical

Adrian Pang has just finished directing the National Day Parade (NDP) and he’s already onto his next big endeavour: reprising his 2015 role as Lee Kuan Yew in The LKY Musical, which will be staged in September. 

Joining him as Kwa Geok Choo is Kit Chan, whom Adrian is working with again after two decades.

AsiaOne attended the cast’s first rehearsal on Aug 3 where we were treated to previews of many of the musical numbers. 

Speaking with AsiaOne in an interview, Adrian said: “There’s a bit of PTSD. NDP is overlapping with the start of rehearsals for this run of LKY.”

“Let me say it for you, that I'm very proud of you, Harry,” Kit added, calling him by his character’s English name. “It is actually a big deal and he keeps downplaying it.”

Kit, 49, said that when Adrian first told her he was going to be the creative director for NDP this year, she thought him being able to manage both high-profile roles was “amazing”.

Despite it being a rerun, Adrian is treating the 2022 edition of The LKY Musical as a “brand new enterprise”.

“Obviously, one significant new element is our dear Kit here who will be joining us,” said the 56-year-old veteran actor, who recently wowed young Singaporeans by stepping on the camera for a TikTok transition.

“So for me, I really want to go into this with fresh eyes and an open mind. There's an opportunity to rediscover new things for myself, and hopefully, even returning audiences will discover new things and we’ll introduce this story to new audiences.”

To Adrian, while actors try to “give as much of themselves” as they can to any role they’re given, the added challenge when playing a real-life public figure is that people remember and have known them personally.

PHOTO: Instagram/Kit Chan

“When you play a real-life person, whether they're still living or no longer, I suppose there's the added pressure to, quote unquote, ‘get it right’, because this will be an individual that people knew and loved intimately and in profound ways that is not made public,” he said. 

“So to put a public spin on something that has been very private, there is a lot of pressure.”

To Kit, the show being a musical gives it some creative licence.

She explained: “I think if it were a straight play, everything would be so naturalistic. But the moment you launch into song, you're in an alternate universe and anything goes there.

“I find that there's a lot of freedom in music and how you can just sort of interpret stuff differently.”

PHOTO: Instagram/Singapore Repertory Theatre

To that end, Adrian said that there are some beautiful musical pieces local songwriter Dick Lee has written for the musical.

“There's some gorgeous ensemble numbers, gorgeous solo numbers and huge anthemic torch songs,” he said.

“We have a very sweet duet that I would like to hear later,” Kit added.

The song in question they want audiences to listen out for is called So Simple.

“It’s a very intimate and revealing glimpse of a relationship between Mr and Mrs Lee — the Mr and Mrs Lee that nobody got to see in public,” Adrian said. “It’s a kind of stolen look into their private life together and it's a very beautiful, meaningful and sweet moment.” 

Alongside So Simple, the cast also performed the riveting ensemble number Together We Stand, an anthemic piece covering the trials and tribulations of Singapore’s independence movement. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@asiaone/video/7128243604438387969

The LKY Musical brings together 21 cast members and a live orchestra on top of over 80 creative and technical professionals, making it the largest theatre production in the last two years since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Previews for The LKY Musical start on Sept 7 at Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands. Tickets can be purchased on the Singapore Repertory Theatre website.

drimac@asiaone.com