Singapore original theatre production Broadway Beng has come a long way since its humble beginnings at a small theatre in Robertson Walk. Over seven years, the original show has inspired three spin-off productions and eventually made it to Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre during its fourth instalment. Returning after a three year hiatus, Sebastian Tan is wired to reprise his role as Singapore’s Broadway Beng in his fifth show of the series.
Dream Academy’s newest show Broadway Beng! Benging you Back to Basics promises fresh tales from Sebastian’s childhood spiced with popular Hokkien ditties and Broadway tunes. Audiences less versed with the local dialect and jokes need not worry, Sebastian assures that it will be a fun and wholesome night for all, regardless of race, religion or language. Sebastian stressed, “Together with my five Chio Buus (pretty ladies), we’ll remind everyone how there’s a Beng and Lian in everyone!”
When we asked about his long break from the limelight, Sebastian expressed his enthusiasm to return to his fans, many of whom have missed him in his role as Broadway Beng. “I missed them too,” he says, adding humorously, “Broadway Beng has grown older, wiser and more handsome.”
Sebastian plays a huge part in the play’s production. Besides starring as its main lead, he is also the primary writer of the production. Fans of the show will be pleased to hear that there will be more stories of Sebastian’s life with his family.
Sebastian admits that he likes to get up close and personal with his audience. “When you share a piece of your personal story with someone, it immediately draws the two of you closer,” he explained. “I’ve got a long childhood with many more tragic but funny stories to share with the audience!”
Sebastian (as seen on the left) seems to have grown into his role as a comedian since his first show in 2006. When quizzed about his evolution as a comedian, he noted, “I think I have a better sense of what’s funny and what’s not. What would get a bigger laugh and what wouldn’t. A better sense of what will make the audience laugh, feel or even cry.”
With its local flair and down-to-earth charm, Broadway Beng hits home with Singapore’s “heartlanders” and theatregoers. Sebastian likens listening to the jokes to a favourite older relative telling you funny anecdotes from his life at a kopitiam (local coffee shop). He added, “There’s also the mix and mash of evergreen Broadway and Hokkien songs that usually strike a chord with the heartlanders and theatre goers, bringing them down memory lane, strumming at their heartstrings and reminding them how Broadway Beng is uniquely Singaporean.” Audiences can look forward to such home-grown theatrics as Sebastian presents his unbarred special sense of humour.
It was clear from our interview that Sebastian has a good amount of admiration and fondness for his colleagues. When we enquired about the Chio Buus (pretty ladies in Hokkien) that he worked with in the show, Sebastian had nothing but praises for them. He said, “I have to say all my Chio Buus are some of the Chio-est (prettiest), most talented and fantastic friends I have!” He jokingly referred to Selena Tan, the director of Broadway Beng, as his other wife. With her around, he says, he feels reassured to “Choot kah liao” (show off all he has got) as Broadway Beng.
The cast of Broadway Beng! Benging you Back to Basics. PHOTOS: DREAM ACADEMY
The older generation might find Hokkien tunes from the production familiar. Sebastian will be dedicating his favourite song in the show “阿爸的话” (Dad’s words) to his father, who he misses dearly.
As a tribute to the newest instalment of the show, Benging you Back to Basics, we asked Sebastian what three basic things he could not live without. He cheekily replied, “Family, Friends and Food or something else that’s starts with an ‘F’.”
Catch Sebastian Tan in this fantabulous show with your family and friends this October.
Broadway Beng! Benging you Back to Basics
Date: October 10-27
Time: Tuesdays to Fridays, 8pm; Saturdays, 4pm and 8pm; Sundays,2pm and 6pm
Venue: Drama CentreTheatre, National Library Building, Level 3
Ticket Prices: Preview (10 October 2013, 8pm) $60, $45, $30, $20, $15, Standard $77, $57, $37, $27,$19
Tickets can be purchased through SISTIC website: www.sistic.com.sg, SISTIC Hotline: 6348 5555 and SISTIC Authorised Agents islandwide. For more information, visit http://www.dreamacademy.com.sg/production/broadway-beng-2013-benging-you-back-to-basics.