I would like to start by expressing my thanks to Ayam Brand for sponsoring the tickets to the musical “Ah Boys to Men” by Jack Neo. Working for the military, the first thing I noticed as I entered the auditorium was tin of sardines by Ayam Brand in the gift pack. The packaging for Ayam Brand’s products has changed over time, its compactness now making it so much easier to carry around especially in a lunch box, just like how the ration packs have been made more accessible and portable compared to the past.
Having watched both Ah Boys to Men (I) and (II) in the movies, I did not come with high expectations of the musical, thinking it could possibly be tacky and just a repeat of the film. Being a fan of musicals and having watched a few, I had high expectations of musicals, which I did not initially believe would be met this time. I thoroughly enjoyed the two movies, but was dubious about this musical. However, my opinion was changed right at the start of the musical.
From the start of the musical, there was a local flair which made it very uniquely Singaporean, yet not in a crude manner which might deter some. There were explanations for all the Singaporean lingoes used during the musical, which made it easy even for foreigners to follow. Sitting next to me was a Caucasian couple, and I heard many laughs coming from them.
The entire musical was quite professionally carried out in my opinion, in terms of choreography, lighting, props, acting, dancing and even the singing. Some of the actors on stage were not professionally-trained singers, so one must not expect excellent vocals. However, the singers kept in tune most of the time, and it was not unpleasant to the ears.
The storyline follows that of the movies quite closely. Anyone who has watched both the movies can expect minimal surprises in the plot. Having already watched both the movies, the musical still did not fail to bring some tears to my eyes in some of the scenes. For obvious reasons, not all details for the movies could be squeezed into the musical that was perhaps just over two and a half hours long. However, I believe the main gist of the plot was still captured despite some details being left out.
Overall, it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience, and I would recommend friends and family to go see this. It was highly entertaining, and touching at some moments. Would I pay to see this musical? Yes, I believe I would. Jack Neo can give himself another pat on the back for another successful endeavour.
- Written by Gracelina, photo by Melissa.