Army Daze sequel after 30 years

The cast and crew of Army Daze 2 at Raffles City yesterday.
The cast and crew of Army Daze 2 at Raffles City yesterday.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Michael Chiang's new comedy will feature updates on the character's lives

Fans of Michael Chiang's Army Daze will be thrilled to learn that the well-loved comedy is back for a second instalment.

Army Daze 2, featuring a brand new script by Chiang, will be staged at the Drama Centre from Aug 4 to 20.

Chiang wanted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the comedy in a big way and while he originally toyed with the idea of restaging the play, he decided to create a sequel instead - one which provides updates on the the lives of the familiar Army Daze characters 30 years on.

Army Daze began as a novel, which was published in 1985. Two years later, it was adapted into a play with the script penned by Chiang. The play has enjoyed six stagings, with the most recent one in 2013.

Director Beatrice Chia-Richmond noted the need to make the script relevant to today's audience.

"We had to discuss how to contemporise the story. For instance, we now have a social media influencer and a female Chief of Army," she says during a press conference held at Raffles City yesterday.

"With all these additions, the army experience is still very much universal in Singapore and everyone has encountered it through family members, loved ones and neighbours. I think this is what makes the play so timeless."

In Army Daze 2, main character Malcolm Png is now a Singapore Armed Forces regular, whose son Justin is about to enter the army.

As for Png's lovable posse, fans will learn how their paths have diverged. Teo Ah Beng is now an entrepreneur, while the stylish Kenny Pereira has become a renowned interior designer. The easy-going Johari Salleh runs a fast-food chain serving ayam penyet and Krishnamoorthi has made a name for himself as an architect.

The five meet for the first time after three decades and, as expected, hilarity ensues.

Featuring five original songs by Don Richmond, the play boasts a star-studded cast, including Hossan Leong, Ebi Shankara, Joshua Lim, Shane Mardjuki, Chua Enlai, Audrey Luo, Jo Tan, Saiful Amri and Oon Shu An.

Leong, who will reprise his role as Malcolm, whom he played in 2006, shared how the character's journey has paralleled his own.

"When we meet Malcolm again, he's married with a son in the army and I think, in some ways, it parallels my life as I have companies to run and people under me. Like Malcolm, I'm now a boss and I also have responsibilities. He is truly a seminal character and it's been great being able to reprise the character."

Acknowledging the enduring legacy of the first instalment, Chiang says: "Looking back, what makes me proud of Army Daze is not so much how far it has come, but how people have embraced it as their own. It's really Singapore's Army Daze. With National Service celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it just makes the sequel even more meaningful."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Army Daze sequel after 30 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe