Has it really been 30 years since Army Daze by local playwright and former 8 DAYS head honcho Michael Chiang was first staged in 1987? The play (it was made into a 1996 movie and had six stagings including a musical version in 2013) returns with a stage sequel set three decades after Malcolm Png & co. ORD loh. “The boys have gone separate ways since NS. Now, they’ll reunite and the audience meets them the same way,” says Michael. Directed by Beatrice Chia-Richmond, the upcoming play sees the Hotel Company boys back together while the son of Malcolm (Hossan Leong), now a director of public affairs with the SAF, enlists for NS.
When I kena arrow… I’d just bite the bullet and do the task if it’s not against my beliefs. But I’m good at wriggling out of things I don’t want to do. I’m an actor mah (guffaws)! I’ve managed to wriggle out of many things in my life, especially in NS. I was in PES E during NS, and that meant I could get out of doing route marches, field camps and guard duty. I didn’t do anything that would save this country. I wanted to, but I wasn’t allowed to. Ha! So if anything happens, don’t come and look for me!
I last had to wake up my idea… During a period in my life when things went my way easily and I was very relaxed. But suddenly there were no jobs coming in, and I realised that life was not a bed of roses all the time. If I’m not acting anymore, what can I do? So I started a company [Double Confirm Productions] to nurture and create younger talents.
I’m most on the ball… Right after I wake up. This is kinda gross but I need to get my system going by [doing things like] downing two cups of coffee and jumping around ’cos I’ve to do a number two before I go out. I can’t deal with public toilets. I have publictoiletcubiclephobia!
I last turned into a kancheong spider… When I had a camera installed in my new car. One day I heard a message that an impact had been recorded. Who is the bloody b****** who langgah [Malay for ‘crashed into’] my car?! I jumped out of my car and examined it a million times but couldn’t find a scratch. I reviewed the footage and found absolutely nothing too. Maybe it was just a fat cat jumping onto my sun roof?
OON SHU AN
The last time I chao keng… It was when I had a social appointment with my friends, but all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t want to let them down, so I just came up with an excuse. But I can’t tell you my go-to excuse, ’cos then I’d be exposed!
When it comes to tekan… I’m always the one being tekan-ed. I’m not a very humourous person, or a comedian like Hossan [Leong] or [Chua] Enlai. People always tell me, “Eh! Joke more leh!” and I’d be like, “What do you want me to say?!” It takes me a while to register if they’re just pulling my leg or they’re being serious ’cos I just take everything so seriously.
When I kena arrow… I redirect the arrow at my juniors.
I last had to wake up my idea… When I went to a wedding fair recently ’cos my girlfriend and I are planning to get hitched. Looking at how much everything costs really woke me up.
Catching up with... NATALIE ONG
Also starring in Army Daze 2 is 16-year-old Melbourne-based Singaporean singer Natalie Ong, who made headlines last year for her superb run on X Factor Australia.
8 DAYS: Tell us more about your role in Army Daze 2.
Natalie Ong: I auditioned and got the role of Renee, a Westernised blogger who gets involved in a love triangle with two characters. I’m a little like her in the sense that my parents are Singaporeans who moved to Australia, I was raised there and I speak with an Australian accent. But I come back to Singapore often and when I hang out with my cousins here, all my Singlish comes out!
What have you been busy with since appearing on X Factor Australia last year?
I’m now based in Singapore till August, and I’ve been performing a lot here. Recently, I did the Home Team Show & Festival to celebrate 50 years of National Service, and I’m also doing a duet with [K-pop star] Jessica Jung for the upcoming Shine Festival. Honestly, I don’t really listen to K-pop, but since I’m singing with a K-pop star, I guess I should try listening to it (laughs). Surprisingly, it’s my ang moh friends in Melbourne who love K-pop. I prefer English songs and Mandopop singers like JJ Lin, A-mei and Lee Hom.
You made it to the finals of X Factor Australia. What did you learn from the experience?
You just have to keep going on. X Factor wasn’t the end of things. It gave me more opportunities to perform overseas, like in Singapore. But I was quite disappointed at being eliminated. The feedback was very positive, so it was unexpected that I got kicked out ’cos I was quite confident [of my chances]. I guess the format of the show was a bit weird. But it was good that I got lots of support from Singaporeans.
How do you attend school when you’re travelling so much?
I take online classes. It’s like going to regular school except you do the assignments and take the exams online. It’s good ’cos I can bring my laptop anywhere in the world to study. It’s going to take me another year to finish, but I’m not rushing to go to university. Right now, I’m focusing on building myself as a performer.
Catch Army Daze 2, Aug 4—20, Drama Centre Theatre. Tix from Sistic.
PHOTOS: CHEE YAN