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Monkey Goes West To Screen At The Newly-Renovated Victoria Theatre – We Interview Chua Enlai and Lim Kay Siu

About Monkey Goes West


Lim Kay Siu as the Bull King. Image Credits: W!LD Rice

W!LD RICE returns for its annual holiday musical with a twist from the East! Monkey Goes West is an adaptation of the traditional Chinese epic with a local flavour involving the protagonist Ah Tang who runs away from his adoptive home and finds himself in the company of Monkey King, Pigsy and Sandy.

Together they go on a journey to help Ah Tang find a place where he truly belongs. Along the way, they encounter villains like Princess Iron Fan, the Bull King and the Red Boy who present obstacles and threaten to derail Ah Tang’s journey. Ah Tang must overcome the dangers and challenges in order to find a place he can call home.

The talented cast features theatre favourites like Chua Enlai and Lim Kay Siu as Princess Iron Fan and the Bull King respectively, as well as up and coming stars Joshua Lim, Sugie Phua, Frances Lee, Siti Khalijah Zainal and Kimberly Chan. 


Interview With Chua Enlai and Lim Kay Siu


Chua Enlai as Princess Iron Fan. Image Credits: W!LD Rice

Screening at the newly-renovated Victoria Theatre, this is the first time an Eastern fable has been adapted for W!LD RICE’s holiday pantomime. TSL had the opportunity to interview Chua Enlai and Lim Kay Siu for their thoughts on this year’s holiday musical and what the audience can expect.


Monkey Go West vs Journey to the West


TSL: What can the audience expect from this musical?

Lim Kay Siu: There will be different landscapes, adventures, villains – it’s all about the  journey. Most plays try to recreate such experiences specially for the children. For the adults there will be some political jibes and sexual jokes.

TSL: How is this version different from the original?

Chua Enlai: The play will be delivered in English and will be ‘Singaporeanized’. There are references to Jurong and the a Singapore family that gets embroiled in a journey. 

TSL: How is this similar to the traditional Journey to the West?

Lim Kay Siu: More about a Singaporean family finding magical scrolls, not so much about a monkey king finding Buddha. Story about old-school and traditional people who don’t like the ‘monkey’ in this play because he’s too playful, but actually he’s got it, monkey is the one.
Chua Enlai: About a motley crew coming together and discovering themselves and each other 
Lim Kay Siu: Yes, they’re kinda the underdogs – the establishment is against them and refuses to change, don’t trust them etc but in actual fact they are the answer – monkey king and his motley crew are the answer to the scroll.


Getting into Character


TSL: What are your characters and do they reflect the person you are?

Chua Enlai: Hmmm I think we’re very good people so really I cannot say (laughter). Villains reflect family members in a Singaporean unit.
Lim Kay Siu: The Bull King is very conservative and inward-looking. I agree with the message of the play, but as Kay Siu I find it difficult to play the role of a villain. I’m an actor though so it should be okay. 

TSL: Are there any special preparations you have to do to get into character?

Chua Enlai: (to Lim Kay Siu) Have you seen the new schedule? There is a MOVEMENT. A 4 hour movement! 
Lim Kay Siu: Oh dear I’m 58 years old.

TSL: So what do you have to do in this ‘movement’ session?

Chua Enlai: WE DON’T KNOW. I have a FEELING we might have to learn wushu. Movement also very much depends on what our SHOES are. 
Lim Kay Siu: For our photoshoot I had to wear an outfit with shoulders THIS broad – everytime I turned around I would hit somebody.

TSL: (to Chua Enlai) Would you have to wear heels as Princess Iron Fan?

Chua Enlai: I may have to!
Lim Kay Siu: Kung-fu in heels – no joke!

Chua Enlai: I’ve walked in traditional Chinese heels before, but that was 7 years ago and its really scary it takes so long to balance in it. You really need to be able to find your centre in WHATEVER shoes you’ve got.

Lim Kay Siu: There’ll be chasing on stage as well we’re going to have to get fit.
Chua Enlai: Yeah so it’s quite a workout.
Lim Kay Siu: It’s a ROMP. 

TSL: So you both are essentially husband and wife in Monkey Goes West. How does that work out?

Chua Enlai: We’ve had many other relationships before you know! Like father-son, father-daughter. It’s always difficult when it’s an actor you DON’T know you know, but I think we’ve gone past that.
Lim Kay Siu: Yeah because then you’re negotiating each other you know, but by now the walls have all come down already. Even if I try something weird I won’t be scared lah you know. 


Lost in Translation…?


TSL: Were there any challenges adapting a traditional Chinese epic into a Singaporean version?

Lim Kay Siu: There will be – what is the ‘Chinese’ and what is the ‘Singaporean’? We haven’t really negotiated that yet and I am very interested to find out.

TSL: Why an Eastern fable?

Lim Kay Siu: It’s about time!

Chua Enlai: I was just about to say that.

Lim Kay Siu: We are 55 years post-colonial. The pantomime is a lovely thing to take away from our colonial masters, but it’s time to re-invent it. We’ve re-invented the Western ones and now its time to reinvent an Eastern one. Singapore is unique in that we are a mixture of East and West and so who better to do this than Singaporeans? An Eastern pantomime with a Singaporean element and a Chinese element to this – it is a pretty new concept. This is ongoing, not just in Singapore but all over the world – how the Oriental people look like to Westerners and how they are perceived. 

TSL: What aspects of this pantomime appeal to you the most? 

Chua Enlai: I’ve never played the villain before. I was always the goodie. So I guess personally what drew me to this pantomime, was that!
Lim Kay Siu: That’s true you’re always the goodie! I mean Enlai is always charming and funny right, why not put him in the baddie camp! I’m ALWAYS in the baddie camp. First time working with Sebastian – we’re very good friends. Also with Enlai and the amazing cast.


Family Appeal


TSL: Was it a challenge working with children? 

Chua Enlai: They are ADORABLE.
Lim Kay Siu: Dealing with 3 kids is okay, but when there are 50 it does get a bit trying. The people working with the children – they’re so kind and it works the children respond to the kindness well and they pick things up faster as well. We’ve also had to learn that kindness. 

TSL: Do you think as villains you can still remain relatable to the children?

Lim Kay Siu: Can lah! I mean I can get them to dislike me a little bit and they will boo me on stage, but you need to balance it so they don’t get frightened.
Chua Enlai: Good vs evil – there has to be the bad guy. Every fairytale has good vs evil. 


Rapid Fire Questions 


TSL: Which musical (anywhere in the world) would you want to star in?

Lim Kay Siu: My Fair Lady.
Chua Enlai: Sunset Boulevard

TSL: You are cast as the lead. Who do you want as your love interest?

Lim Kay Siu: Swee Lin.  
Chua Enlai: Someone older. Maggie Cheung. I interviewed her and there was that amazing grace to her. It wasn’t even like a trying to be nice kind of thing? Steely but magnificent. 

TSL: In 5 year’s time…

Lim Kay Siu: Alive I hope. Living in a beautifully inclusive Singapore. 
Chua Enlai: In a different age box! I will hopefully still be hairy.

TSL: Fave food place?

Lim Kay Siu: The wanton mee at East Coast Lagoon. 
Chua Enlai: Little India. We’ve been rehearsing here and I love Indian food and the food is really fantastic. 

You have 10 seconds to go back in time to go back and talk to your younger self. 

Lim Kay Siu: Don’t be so arrogant.
Chua Enlai: Moisturize. 


Get Your Tickets from SISTIC 


b2ap3_thumbnail_monkey_goes_west.jpgImage Credits: W!LD Rice

Dates: 21 November – 13 December 2014
Venues: Victoria Theatre 
Showtimes: Tuesday to Friday, 7.30pm | Thursday, Saturday and Sunday Matinee, 2.30pm

Ticket Prices Standard S$70, S$60, S$45 – There a few different variations in ticket prices, head over to SISTIC to book the tickets or the official website to find out more about the musical.

This post was brought to you by W!LD Rice.