Broadway Beng takes a trip down memory lane

MORE BENGS FOR YOUR BUCK: Home-grown thespian Sebastian Tan's fifth edition of his Broadway Beng show kept things fresh with new additions, like a miniature version of his character, played by eight-year-old Ian Lee.


    Oct 14, 2013

    Broadway Beng takes a trip down memory lane

    SHOW: Broadway Beng! Benging You Back To Basics

    VENUE: Drama Centre Theatre, National Library

    WHEN: Saturday


    NOBODY can quite fill glitzy, sequined suits the way home-grown thespian Sebastian Tan can - as Broadway Beng.

    The 40-year-old is back on stage after a three-year hiatus for a fifth edition of the show, this time called Benging You Back To Basics.

    And Tan is as adept as ever at the game, be it delivering signature tongue-in-cheek jokes, crooning Hokkien tunes, or belting out Broadway numbers.

    The show, which opened with a medley of songs that included Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard's As If We Never Said Goodbye and popular Hokkien ditty Gan Jit Pui, was all about nostalgia.

    In line with the show's title, Tan took the audience on a trip back to his childhood, recounting personal anecdotes of growing up.

    He went from chasing trophies to display on his family's sports-trophy shelf to chasing dreams of becoming a "cool" teenager of his time - think neon shirts, baggy paper-bag pants, and oversized shoes - all of which left the audience in fits of laughter.

    After all, in straddling East and West, or at least by trying to, Tan stands as an emblem for the cultural motley that most Singaporeans would find themselves familiar with.

    The show kept things fresh with new additions, like a bigger chio bu (Hokkien for pretty woman) entourage, played by Denise Tan, Jacqueline Pereira, Judee Tan, Mina Kaye and Siti Khalijah.

    The appearance of bright-eyed eight-year-old Ian Lee as a miniature version of Broadway Beng also spruced up the show, especially when he fired off impressive lines of fluent Hokkien in both speech and song.

    Besides making jibes at hot-button issues, from MRT breakdowns to the Population White Paper, Broadway Beng also delivered a near-10-minute adaptation of the 1971 musical Grease. Tan's simultaneous rendition of both lead characters, Sandy and Danny, was uproarious.

    Without a doubt, the charm of a Broadway Beng show lies in the very experience it offers to its audience: a thoroughly entertaining one. Even without a standout storyline, Saturday's sold-out show still engaged its audience in a 90-minute celebration of hearty comedy, and of everything Singaporean.

    With a voice bigger than the stage, the earnest man is proof enough why local productions have their worth, and should continue to be supported.

    Broadway Beng! Benging You Back To Basics runs at the Drama Centre Theatre until Sunday. Tickets are priced from $19, and are available at Sistic. Visit