The LKY musical celebrating the life of the most iconic man in Singapore, the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. It will star Adrian Pang in the titular role as well as Sharon Au as his wife the late Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew. While all eyes are on Adrian Pang and anticipation is high on how he will step in this incredibly massive role, after all, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a man well known to the public for decades, I’m most interested in seeing Sharon Au as the role of his wife. Mrs Lee was a woman where despite the entire nation knowing her name, not much was known about her. Her intelligence and unwavering support for her husband was just about the only thing known about her in what is soon becoming the myth of the missus. We were lucky enough to have a little chat with Sharon (last seen as the MC for the opening/closing ceremonies of the 28th SEA Games) on the musical as well as her career.
The question that I most wanted to ask was what exactly attracted her to the role of Mrs. Lee because it’ll give us an inkling of how exactly Mrs Lee will be portrayed. Mrs. Lee was without a doubt an enigmatic character and recently enigmatic characters have been brought to life on the big screen, Eddie Redmayne as Dr.Stephen Hawking and Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. These amazing actors were able to bring these hidden stories to life beyond their public persona and I’m really hoping for the same thing through the musical. To Sharon, the complexities that make up Mrs. Lee intrigued her, “not only was Mrs Lee the iconic Asian wife and mother, she was also extremely intelligent and capable and quite a rebel and trendsetter for her time.” For Sharon much like Eddie and Cumberbatch, “it is a privilege to play this role and to be able to honour her spirit through art, ” to shed light on a very public yet private person.
A little glimpse of Sharon and Adrian as Mrs and Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew means a lot to every Singaporean, yet he means something different to different people, to some he’s the man who built up Singapore, the miracle worker; to others he’s an arrogant has-been. For Sharon, being a part of this musical is her “want[ing] to celebrate how extraordinary he was. If you listen carefully to the lines of the script and the lyrics of the songs, you will know that this is a story about a man, who not only believed in the impossible, but also worked hard and sacrificed his life to achieve it.” The story of LKY is certainly one worth repeating (which it is in both the musical as well as the upcoming film, 1965). Biographies of great men with amazing stories are better than any fictional or fantasy story, the sheer audacity of their pursuit of greatness is inspiring. “It will encourage all of us to stand up for what we believe in, and to pursue our passion with unwavering courage,” the outworldly transformation of Singapore is testament to the strength of the human will.
Sharon has been in the public spotlight for more than a decade as an actress in TV shows, films and especially as a host and a MC yet it speaks of her maturity and experience when she says that her favourite role is that “I enjoy being myself the most. Away from prying eyes. Anonymous. Alive.” Hearing that kind of reminds me of Mr and Mrs. Lee and the lengths they went to protect their privacy and the privacy of their family despite being the most famous names in Singapore. Anticipation has never been higher for a musical, especially a local musical but once again the irony of a public figure against public attention is clear, “I have learned to block off public attention and to just focus on what’s important. The journey I walked together with the talented and committed production team carries more significance to me than the end game.” To me, it is paramount that actors shy against public attention and pressure to prevent any unintended and unconscious influence that will sway the original portrayal and intention, I’m incredibly excited to see the end game.
LKY the Musical will be facing some incredibly stiff competition in the portrayal of LKY’s life in the film ‘1965’ yet she was confident in what makes the musical better, “The songs. This is Lyricist Steven Clark at his best. And who can resist Dick Lee’s music?” Yes, who can resist Dick Lee’s music and the charmingly talented cast.
The LKY Musical will premiere 21st July at Marina Bay Sands Theatre, find out more here!