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With the passing of our nation’s key Founding Father, we take a look at some shows that honour the late Mr Lee
Lee Kuan Yew – our first Prime Minister and a pillar of modern politics – may have passed on, but his legacy remains in many forms.
To further honour him, as well as to commemorate our nation’s milestone of 50 years, two upcoming productions immortalise our visionary leader. One in film and one on stage, they will be released later this year.
Last year, blue3 Pictures and mm2 Entertainment initiated this project to commemorate Singapore’s Big 50. Executive producer Daniel Yun explained that while it’s not a biopic of Mr Lee, 1965 “will start and end with him”.
The film stars veteran actor Lim Kay Tong as Mr Lee, alongside Qi Yiwu, Joanne Peh and Malaysian actress Deanna Yusoff.
The Most Poignant Scene
The film features one of the most iconic moments in Singapore’s history. Announcing Singapore’s separation from Malaysia at a press conference on Aug 9, 1965, Mr Lee suddenly broke from his notes and gazed straight into the camera.
He addressed Singaporeans directly in an anguished speech, revealing a startling emotional side to the stoic leader. Mr Lee also reassured citizens, encouraging them that “many things will go on just as usual” and “everybody will have his place”.
This poignant moment was televised by TV Singapura back then, and can now be viewed on YouTube. It is quite possibly the centrepiece of 1965. Watch the original here:
Starring as Mr Lee in 1965 is veteran actor Lim Kay Tong, who said that the Aug 9 separation telecast was “stuck indelibly” in his mind.
“You see a different side to the man, a very human side. That press conference really defined him in a different way,” said Lim in a press conference for this film.
Lim’s portrayal of Mr Lee is flawless. Apart from appearing just a tad slimmer, he successfully channels Mr Lee’s signature accent and mannerisms, right down to the reflexes as he breaks down on screen.
And to think they originally wanted Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai to act as Mr Lee!
If you absolutely can’t wait for its release, you can first view Lim’s delivery of this momentous scene in 1965’s teaser clip here:
1965 releases in theatres on Jul 30. More details will be announced soon.
The LKY Musical
Announced earlier this year, The LKY Musical will take on a more uplifting tone in remembering the late leader. Starring as Mr Lee is local thespian Adrian Pang, who many people have remarked bears surprising resemblance to the former Prime Minister in his younger days.
See the early life of Lee Kuan Yew played out, from surviving the Sook Ching Massacre during the Japanese Occupation to the founding of independent Singapore in 1965.
Big Budget Project
Brought to stage by Metropolitan Productions (MP), The LKY Musical has been in the making for almost three years. MP’s director, Tan Choon Hiong, revealed that it is built on a multi-million-dollar budget.
Accompanying the act is acclaimed singer-songwriter Dick Lee, who will belt out a score that is “lyrical, fairly acoustic and passionate,” said Lee.
He explained, “I wanted it to match the serious subject matter, but not for it to be heavy. There’s at the heart of it a very beautiful love story. Some of my best romantic songs are in this show.”
The LKY Musical is directed by Steven Dexter, who has headed local productions like Forbidden City, Fried Rice Paradise and Sing to the Dawn. His international musicals, which have been staged from West End to Germany, have won multiple awards.
Different Portrayals of Mr Lee
When asked how he feels about being compared with Lim’s role as Mr Lee in 1965, Pang chuckled and said, “I’m focused on [doing] it as well as I can… But from what I’ve seen, I am sure Kay Tong will do a marvellous job with the role.”
Lim himself looks forward to seeing different representations of Mr Lee. He said, “The more portrayals, the better. It’s our way of paying tribute to [Mr Lee].”
The LKY Musical will is expected to begin its show in end-July, and will play over National Day. More details – including who will play the pivotal role of Mrs Lee, and performance dates and venues – will be announced in April.
By Pamela Chow