'Wonderboy' will be The Sam Willows' Benjamin Kheng's second time playing Dick Lee

31 July 2016 / 2 months 4 weeks ago

Tracy Low 
The New Paper
Jul 30, 2016

Just when you think local singer-songwriter Dick Lee has done it all, he is making his first foray into film-making - at the age of 60.

He starts shooting his directorial debut Wonder Boy - which is inspired by his experiences when he was a student at St. Joseph's Institution in the 70s - in October.

Local film director Daniel Yam will co-direct and singer-actor Benjamin Kheng, member of local band The Sam Willows, takes the lead playing Lee's younger self, an aspiring musician who comes from a rich family.

Lee, who co-wrote the script, told The New Paper at the press conference for the film yesterday: "Not much is known about my teenage days because a lot of people only know me from (album) The Mad Chinaman onwards, which was in the late 80s.

"So this film will be a revelation to a lot of people, even to my oldest audience."


A coming-of-age film slated to be released in the third quarter of next year, Wonder Boy focuses on three years of Lee's life that resulted in his first album Life Story, which was released in 1974.

It will cost $1.3 million to make and filming will take place in Penang as, according to Lee, it most resembles 70s-era Singapore.

The movie also stars Constance Song, Julie Tan and Chen Yixi, the son of veteran actors Edmund Chen and Xiang Yun. (See report on right.)

Kheng, 25, who has television, film and stage experience, told TNP: "I feel the pressure for sure, but the greater thing at stake is to inspire musicians to pick up their instruments and write a song (through the film).

"I'm focusing my efforts on doing that."

The biggest challenge for him is interpreting the songs from the 70s.

This is not Kheng's first time playing Lee. He did so four years ago for Esplanade's 10th anniversary musical production, National Broadway Company.

Lee said: "I was actually going to do a play called Wonder Boy about my growing up years, so I mentioned it to Ben (back then), but then the project became a movie."

Kheng still had to audition for the lead role, as Lee wanted to be sure he was the perfect choice.

Kheng said: "For my generation, I think most people would know him from (local reality TV singing series) Singapore Idol (where he was a judge).

"But as a musician, I'm exposed to (musical) Fried Rice Paradise, (album) Life Story and (musical) Beauty World, so I'm a big fan. When I first met him, it was extremely intimidating."

Lee added: "When we cast Ben, we didn't know him well. But when we sat down and talked to him, it proved my instincts right. His musicianship is one of the strong draws for me."

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