Musical is based on a half-true story about a Singaporean politician who made good by committing hara-kiri.
Singaporeans from all walks of life who like to watch political theatre can now look forward to a brand new musical production, Khaw Boon Wan: The Musical.
Based on a true story, the show would chart the life story of Minister Khaw Boon Wan, which is a tale of resilience as it strives to portray how a politician refused to bow to public pressure to kill himself.
However, some details of the plot had to be changed to make it more palatable for a paying audience.
Composer and director of the musical, Prick Lee, who has helmed award-winning shows such as French Fries Paradise, said: “We had to embellish the ending though. If we remember correctly, the true story somewhat ended on a low note: The politician didn’t commit suicide.”
“We tried out the pilot run for the show where the politician lived and it failed badly with the test audience. They feedback that the ending was a letdown as the politician lived to tell the tale.”
“So, for this musical, we not only made sure the politician commit hara-kiri on stage by falling on a knife to bring the story to its logical conclusion, the plot has the politician kill himself live on YouTube to a streaming audience worldwide who get to witness the viral demise first-hand.”
“It will bring the audience to a cathartic ending, so people who pay $120 and upwards for a ticket will leave the theatre feeling like they got something positive out of the experience.”
Critics have submitted advance praise for the musical. Calling it “painfully cutting (pun intended)”, they singled out lead actor Henry Thia, a.k.a. Hui Ge, for his career-defining role as Minister Khaw.
Thia, speaking to the media, said: “This has got to be one of the toughest roles in my life. I had to constantly override my human nature to be good and beneficial to others and focus on being a politician.”
“Being an actor, I only had to act. But being a politician meant I had to act like my life depended on it. It’s not easy even for a professional actor like me.”
“Moreover, I had to learn to say things with a straight face, lie with my eyes open and train my body to physically portray the cognitive dissonance that is going on in my mind whenever I speak.”
“For example, I had to say things like, ‘People need to hara-kiri for lapses’ and then proceed not to commit suicide.”
“My years in showbiz didn’t even prepare me to be 10 percent politician.”
Audiences were also full of praise from the matinee preview.
One audience member, Kwa Teo Kwee, said: “It’s almost as if I am watching Khaw Boon Wan on stage for a minute there.”
“The resemblance is uncanny.”