Broadway Beng: 121209

Broadway Beng! Jiak Liu Lian!
Directed by Royston Tan
Written and performed by Sebastian Tan

Returning for a fourth installment, myself missing out on the first three, and hearing rave reviews about it, I have no idea what to expect from the show except for maximum spoken Hokkien jokes in-my-face and a night of good laughter as I entered into the main Esplanade Theatre, possibly for the first time (though I am not quite sure if the Camera Obscura gig took place in the same theatre). So afterall, I did have some expectations, good ones.

Not sure with it being the last running for the show, or the reality that it was Saturday night and more crowd of people was out, or that there generally were good reception for the show entirely throughout its runnings, the theatre was packed from my point of view. Naturally, the audience were mostly Chinese, ranging from all different age groups, with noticeably a large proportion of them being senior citizens.

Heavy red curtains were down; music was faintly heard; sponsors were flashing on the screens; the spotlight was on.

And the curtains went up. Who to began the show with than the the all-singing, all-dancing ‘Chio Buus’, with their over-the-top costume outfits and harmonious singings. It was signed Roystan Tan all over – the whole getai experience, the multi-coloured outfits that people won’t see on normal circumstances, and just the general vibe of the entire show. Sebastian “dropped by” in a huge ‘liu lian’, and one couldn’t ask for a more entertaining and dramatic entrance than that, I can rest assure.

With his standup comedy, he poked fun at matters from home, with a dig at several recent news events. Not leaving out his Broadway touches, he remade Les Miserables in 10 minutes’ flat and even pretended to be England’s Queen on a confessional visit from the Palace. Several jokes were pretty adult themed and vulgarity containing, but I was glad that for most of the parents in the audience, that did not stop them from bringing their children into a night out, and for Sebastian, for still being able to be truthful without going under the censorship knife. My sister, whom I went together with, reckoned that the most funniest moment was ironically the music video part – where Beng and the ‘Chio Buus’ paid a special visit to the island away from the island – Sentosa’s Silosa Beach – to film a classical 1980s style Chinese karaoke music video, with singalong lyrics funny enough to make one abuse the stomach by slapping hard on it to prevent from laughing too hard that it ached, and the women in awkward lonely glances and desperate positionings, i.e. running in bikinis and a scarf widespread, wind blowing against just to name one. I begged to disagree; that the whole live experience was just as good – if not, better – despite not knowing a lot of Hokkien myself. The ambience; the first virginal time; the lighthearted laughter of the other strangers; there were so much to love about seeing it live.

Let’s not forget the music. Sebastian, whom we all know for his acting skills on TV, has very good singing vocals. One can feel that he is pouring his heart and soul into the songs, as though he knew that he had it going all along. I flipped when he burst out the 7pm weekend timeslot’s Taiwanese drama’s theme song – it was definitely a winner with the senior crowd. There was an emotional piece which he performed for either his mother or grandmother; probably about love, life and the then simple times, in which, yes, I teared along to the lyrics and melody. The Chinese oldies still get to me.

Overall, Sebastian was a good entertainer, keeping the audience packed with his jokes, his music, his onstage persona, his onstage antics and the positive interactions with the audience. If only I had gotten better seats for viewing pleasure, but still that didn’t stop me from having a good night of slapstick fun and childlike laughter.

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