Here’s the intimate conversation with my new boyfriend-who-doesn’t-know-it-yet, Sebastian Tan who stars as Broadway Beng, a new musical staged by Dream Academy. The term Ah Beng should be familiar for most Singaporeans, but for our international readers, here is what it means (as quoted from everyone’s favourite resource, Wikipedia):
Ah Beng, is a stereotype applied to a certain group of young Chinese men in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Malaysia.
The stereotypical view of an Ah Beng is a young Chinese man or teenager who lacks cultural refinement or indulges in criminal activity or is involved in brawls or arguments out of disagreements with other people. Ah Bengs are also sometimes associated with extensively modified or zhng-ed cars, and are stereotypically seen as excessively flashy and materialistic.
The wording in the interview below is from the man himself, we thought it’d be important for our readers to get a true sense of just how awesome Broadway Beng is.
Popspoken: Broadway Beng has come a long way. How did you first come up with the idea for the show? How has Broadway Beng changed over the years, and what’s on the menu for Broadway Beng for the next 5, 10 years?
2 events happened that lead to Broadway Beng. First was about 10yrs ago when Selena Tan, Pamela Oei and I was on a work trip at a resort. We finished our show at the resort and decided to relax by the pool after. We were having cocktails and I ended up telling them my tragic life stories, pouring my sorrows, thinking I would garner some empathy from my fellow colleagues. Instead, Selena and Pam just couldn’t stop laughing, cackling away at my stories.
Second event was Selena’s wedding where I was to sing a song for the wedding couple. Anyway,I got drunk while waiting for my turn to sing and ended up doing an impromptu stand-up in hokkien and singing a hokkien song. Over the years, BBeng has grown older, wiser but still hamsome and as long as audiences are still willing to pay to watch BBeng, He will go on to live a looong and fruitful life:-)
Popspoken: How much of Broadway Beng is actually Sebastian Tan (how similar are you to your onstage character)? How beng are you? Does it bother you if people know you by Broadway Beng rather than as Sebastian Tan, or if they like your onstage persona better than they like your actual self?
There is definitely a lot of Sebastian Tan in Broadway Beng as I do lend a lot of my life stories to my Beng alto ego…that said, we lead very separate and different lives… For example, I am actually more reserved, shy, quieter, low key and single while Broadway Beng is much larger than life, colorful, dramatic and has a wife he hardly sees plus 2 teenage kids. And what does it matter if I’m more known or BBeng is more known or if I’m morepopular or BBeng is more popular, etc??? There’s enough of me to go around. I’m even thinking of coming up with more alter-egos so watch out!:-)
Popspoken: How do you juggle with the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the curtain rises and falls of the entertainment/arts scene?
Just like how I lead my life… day to day, come what may, que sera sera, almost Zen like…ohmm…
Popspoken: What do you hope audiences will take away from this show?
Lots of wholesome fun and laughter and maybe a tear or 2 for the whole family!!! Also, learn a new broadway/hokkien tune or 2? Remember,you don’t need to know hokkien to enjoy Broadway Beng!:-)
Popspoken: We understand that this year’s show draws from your childhood memories– could you let us in on your second most precious memory from childhood (because we dare not ask for too much)?
You would find quite a few of my precious memories in this latest instalment of Broadway Beng. For eg, there’ll be a segment where I talked about my growing up years with my father and another segment where I talked about my BFFs from my growing up years and how they’ve influenced me in the way I talk…funny:-)
Popspoken: Any fashion tips from Broadway Beng himself?
Be yourself…as long as you feel good and comfortable in it, then it’s right… even if it’s chicken pants and permed curry puff hair. There will be a segment in the show where I talked about my Beng fashion:-)
Popspoken: Will we be seeing you in any pantomimes this Christmas?
You can see me in Crazy Christmas this year at The Esplanade:-) Next year, I might have something brewing in the pipeline so keep a lookout, won’t say anything for now:-)
Popspoken: May I have your number? Just kidding. We just thought we should end the interview with your favourite number. Huat ah!
Nice try :-) But I shall leave you with 4 numbers 1010. That’s the opening date for Broadway Beng! Benging you back to basics! Oct 10 at the Drama Centre Theatre!!! Get your tickets through sistic!!! Hurry!!! Seeya!!! Huat ah!!!
You heard the man. Get your tickets here!
For more information, visit the official website of Broadway Beng.