O Benjamin, Benjamin! Wherefore Art Thou Benjamin?

Shakespeare’s most popular play about two ill-fated young lovers gets a contemporary twist this Valentine’s season, with Toy Factory’s very own musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The classic tale will be given an invigorating update, featuring original music composed by none other than song-writing maestro Elaine Chan.

Directed by the immensely talented Nell Ng from Malaysia, the musical also stars a sexy and undeniably attractive young cast. The ensemble includes theatre staples such as Caleb Goh, Dwayne Tan and Jo Tan, and plenty of fresh talents including Marc Valentine, Theresa Wee-Yenko and Australia’s Nelson Clemente. Ethel  Yap — previously seen in W!ld Rice’s Jack and the Bean Sprout — will take on the role of Juliet.

As for the titular male lead himself, we can’t think of a better Romeo than Benjamin Kheng, singer/musician from the hugely successful band The Sam Willows. Arguably the hottest young thing in the entertainment scene right now, the actor took some time to chat with us about his involvement in the musical. Read on to find out what we can expect from the production, and the sweetest thing he’s ever done for a girl.


Rebecca: How did you get involved in this production?

No earth-shattering answer here – I auditioned for the creative team back in mid-2013. Absolutely stoked to be part of this production!

What’s Romeo like in this adaptation? How is he different from Romeo in Shakespeare’s play?

He’s still the Son of Montague with all his earthly flaws and qualities – passionate, intense, brash and pretty much devoid of moderation. Of course, this Romeo that I play exists in the universe that Toy Factory and Nell Ng have created. His pattern of speech, mannerisms, and certainly dress sense will be a reflection of that world.

In line with this play’s theme of romance, what qualities do you find attractive in a girl?

If she reads, has a sense of humour, and a passion for life and others, she’s a keeper.

What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for a girl?

I cut an entire music album dedicated to her! Writing, singing, recording, mixing, packaging. I was 18 and not very fantastic at any one of those things, but I did put a lot of thought into it. I remember spending an entire day trying to learn how to fashion an album cover. Truthfully though, it wasn’t the most selfless thing because I had so much bloody fun doing it myself.

Tell us more about the music composed specially for this musical. What genres can we expect to hear?

Music in this play has been structured around beautiful Shakespearean verses, but with the familiarity of a standard pop structure. You’ll hear the choruses and you’ll know when they come.

Everything is glossed with a beautiful contemporary Musical Theatre touch, courtesy of Elaine and her genius mind. But you’ll hear a smattering of influences everywhere. Hybrids of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and hip hop, pop jazz, stadium rock and many more.

What do you think would be the most ideal song to serenade a girl with?

Love Love Love – Avalanche City is a pretty good one!

Lastly, tell us why audiences will enjoy this production.

It’s certainly Romeo & Juliet like you’ve never seen it before. That I can assure you.

Catch a promo clip for the show below, with the theme song sung by Benjamin:

For more information or tickets to the show, click here.

Event Details

Date: 13 February – 23 February 2013
Duration: Approximately 120 mins (with intermission)
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Ticket Prices: $69, $59, $49 (Excludes $3 ticket charge)
Tickets available from: SISTIC /(65) 6348 5555 /www.sistic.com.sg
Enquiry Tel: (65) 6222 1526

Photo credits: Toy Factory Productions


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Explore latest trends in contemporary culture