Ah Boys To Men’s Noah Yap Plays “Magical Being” In Musical: He’s Like A Superhero “Except I Don’t Wear My Underwear On The Outside”
Noah Yap gets to play a superhero in his latest performance. Kinda sorta.
Best known as IP Man in Jack Neo’s Ah Boys to Men film series (all four of them), Yap currently stars in the musical The Monster in the Mirror, as a flashy Fairy God Delivery Beng (ahem, don’t ask) to a schoolgirl (Sharon Sum), struggling with academia, bullies and assorted social media histrionics.
The music is written by Michelle Ler, with lyrics by Cheryl Chitty Tan (yes, that Cheryl Chitty Tan of Derek fame).
Speaking to 8days.sg, Yap, 29, likened the “magical being” role — his first theatrical performance since 2014’s Ah Boys to Men: The Musical — to “a superhero in a Marvel comic”. “Just that I don’t wear my underwear on the outside,” he wisecracked.
While Yap relishes the stage comeback, he wasn’t too thrilled about the show’s dance numbers. “I have two left feet,” he explained. “I really have to learn the moves and try not to forget them. Because when you’re watching a big group of actors dancing on stage, if one person does it wrong, it’s very, very obvious — it’s an eyesore lah!”
That said, it was a small price to pay to escape the uncouth Ah Beng soldier persona popularised by the Ah Boys the Men movies. “In the last 10 years, I think I’ve managed to successfully break away from that stereotype,” he said. “Other than the musical, I have done other roles as well, playing bad guys, good guys, students.”
Two recent shows that showed Yap’s range are Titoudao: Dawn of a New Stage, the sequel to the 2020 Chinese opera drama, where he plays an assistant to a finicky director (The Third Rail’s Shrey Bhargarva), and She’s a Terrorist and I Love Her, a black comedy created by Terence Chia and Haresh Tilani, the YouTubers behind Ministry of Funny, that streamed briefly on HOOQ before it shuttered in 2020 and only resurfaced following years of legal wranglings.
“The craziest part about being [in She’s a Terrorist] is that not only do I have a kissing scene, but I also have a sex scene!” Yap recalled, excitedly.
He added, “To be honest, whether it’s a small or big role, as long as it lets the audience see I can play different characters, I’m more than happy to take up the role.”
What kind of student was Yap back in the day? “I was a normal kid lah,” he said. “My grades weren’t really that good — I was more of the last-minute study type”.
Was he ever a bully or a victim of bullying? “I was the neutral kid. I didn’t really take any sides,” he said. “My group of friends were in our own world, doing our own thing. When you put a bunch of us together, only mischievous things can happen, right? We would go around the school and just like da luan (raise a ruckus).”
Does Yap have a fairy godparent looking out for him? He considers who anyone supported him throughout the years — including the dark period when he was busted for cannabis consumption — as his guardian spirit. “It’s very important to surround yourself with people who really support and believe in you,” he said. “If not, I really wouldn’t be here talking to you now.”
Does he consider Neo his Fairy Godfather?
“For sure,” Yap said. “I don’t know if he sees me as a godson, though. He’ll probably say no. But Jack is definitely one of the people I look up to. I really wouldn’t be here had he not given me a chance in the Ah Boys to Men movies.
“We’ve known each other for, like, 10 years, and whenever we see each other, it’s like a reunion, you know?”
Does Yap have a favourite movie by his benefactor? And what does he make of the commercially successful but critically reviled Ah Girls Go Army movies?
“I think Liang Dao just wanted to try something new and nobody can really fault him for that,” Yap said. “The second part is definitely better than the first part lah, let’s be honest here. The movie is okay, it’s not bad-bad, it’s okay. Not his best work. His best works are still the classics, like I Not Stupid and Money No Enough.”
Any inside info on another Ah Boys to Men instalment?
“I give you Jack Neo’s number and you can ask him yourself,” he quipped.
The Monster in the Mirror is now playing at Gateway Theatre till May 27; visit Sistic for tix. Titoudao: Dawn of a New Stage is on meWATCH while She’s a Terrorist and I Love Her is on YouTube.