Review of ‘Ah Boys to Men: The Musical’

Ah Boys to Men: The Musical has been extended to 4 May 2014 due to popular demand!

Find out more about the show time and booking details for Ah Boys to Men: The Musical.

I’m a big fan of musicals. Growing up with Disney animations, I used to think that it’s pretty normal for people to break out into songs in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, no one seems to appreciate my singing whether it is on the bus, on the streets or in the library.

Despite my love for musicals, when I was given review tickets for Ah Boys to Men: The Musical, I wasn’t very sure if I would like the show because:

  1. I haven’t watched any of the movies.
  2. I know Singlish and local slang but I’m clueless about National Service (NS) or army talk.
  3. I don’t know if the cast can sing.

But after watching the musical, I realised that these points didn’t matter.

Who’s who in Ah Boys to Men: The Musical

Ah Boys to Men: The Musical poster
Clockwise from upper left: Maxi Lim who plays Aloysius Jin, Tosh Zhang who plays Sergeant Ong, Benjamin Kheng who plays Ken Chow, Wang Wei Liang who plays Lobang and Noah Yap who plays IP Man.

For those who haven’t watched the movie, here’s a quick summary of who’s who in the musical:

  • Spoiled brat Ken Chow, played by Benjamin Kheng, whom I dub Chinese Zac Efron.
  • Stereotypically uncouth Lobang, played by Wang Wei Liang, who is the master at smuggling things into the army camp.
  • Straight-A good boy Aloysius, played by Maxi Lim, who has a super kiasu mother.
  • Lovelorn IP Man, played by Noah Yap, who is dating Ayumi (played by Patricia Mok).
  • Sergeant Ong, played by Tosh Zhang, who yells a lot because he can he is a sergeant.

In the show, we are also introduced to other new recruits – whose name I don’t remember (oops!):

  • The Indian recruit who also played the postman in the earlier part of the show.
  • The new-immigrant recruit who speaks with a mainland Chinese accent.
  • The Malay recruit who magically got out of NS by acting a little bit unhinged.
Ah Boys to Men the musical
Getting a taste of the action at the Ah Boys to Men: The Musical media preview.

Parts of the musical that I enjoyed:

  1. You don’t need to watch the movie to enjoy the musical. While there might be insider jokes referring to the movie, the musical doesn’t leave out anyone who hasn’t watched the franchise.
  2. The cast can sing, really well (except for one guy). To be honest, I’m surprised as I didn’t expect them to sing that well. The songs and lyrics are good too–not too cheesy.
  3. The over-the-top comic characters Ayumi (played by Patricia Mok) and Leticia (played by a crossdressing Chua En Lai) who steal the scene. Ayumi is IP Man’s girlfriend who cheats on him while Leticia is Ken Chow’s maid with an exaggerated Filipino accent.
  4. The scenery and props are exciting. Since the musical spans several locations, there are a lot of props used to represent the different setting. It’s fun seeing the stagehands rush to prepare for new scenes.

Parts that could be improved:

  1. The show lasts 2 hours 30 minutes with a 10-minute interval. It is a bit long, considering that the musical Les Misérables lasts 2 hours and 50 minutes, including a 20-minute interval.
  2. There are verbal product placements for sponsors scattered in the beginning of the show. While product placement in movies is easier to get away with, having the actors say out the brand name is a bit strange. (I’ll admit that RWS was mentioned too.)
  3. PG 13 musical number of the army boys taking care of their rifles (aka their wives). This is something you need to see to know what I’m talking about. In one scene, the army guys writhe around on stage, making sexual sugestions. Sadly, it was more uncomfortable than comical.
  4. The singing part of Ken’s father (played by Richard Low). He reminded me a bit of Russell Crowe in Les Misérables the movie.
Richard Low in Ah Boys to Men: The Musical
Sorry dad, you can’t sing.

Should I go if I don’t know Mandarin and Hokkien?

There are subtitles for some parts of the show where the cast talk or sing in Mandarin or Hokkien. Sometimes the subtitles miss out a few lines but you will get the general plot.

To help people not familiar with Singapore slang, here is a list of frequently used words in the musical:

•    Cheong [sic]: Going all out.

•    Geng: Faking it, to escape tough activities.

•    Ah Beng: Stereotypically uncouth Chinese men.

•    Kiasu: Literally “afraid to lose”.

I’d definitely recommend anyone who likes musicals and comedy to watch Ah Boys to Men: The Musical. It might be a tad long (2 hours 30 minutes) but the songs and the cast are funny.

The cast also conducts autograph sessions after selected shows but only on official merchandise. If you have bought the merchandise remember to rush out to beat the queue.

Ah Boys to Men: The Musical autograph session
Be kiasu and get your autograph.

Still undecided? Here are more reviews for Ah Boys to Men: The Musical:

Ah Boys to Men: The Musical has been extended to 4 May 2014 due to popular demand!
Find out more about the show time and booking details for Ah Boys to Men: The Musical.

[schema type=”review” name=”Ah Boys to Men The Musical” author=”Liau Yun Qing” pubdate=”2014-04-28″ user_review=”4.5″ min_review=”1″ max_review=”5″ ]
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