Exclusive: Interview with Dick Lee The Mad Chinaman

Reuelwrites speaks to the Mad Chinaman himself in an exclusive email interview.

Reviving his legendary show, The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman, the one-night only concert to be performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 22 September will see Dick Lee bringing back his sold out show.

Singapore’s favourite singing sensation is a name befitting the music juggernaut known as Dick Lee. Lee first gained regional prominence when his 1989 album The Mad Chinaman achieved platinum status in Singapore. Lee chalked up accolades after accolades since then.

Lee composed songs for Asia’s top singing talents such as Jackie Cheung, Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Anita Mui and Stephanie Sun. Lee was also the brains behind the tunes for sellout musicals like Beauty World (1988), Fried Rice Paradise (1991, 2010), Forbidden City (2003) to name a few.THE MAD CHINAMAN

It was also the Cultural Medallion recipient who composed the heart-stirring 1998 National Day Parade song, Home (家) performed by local singer, Kit Chan. The song remains as Singaporeans’ top favourite NDP song of all times, with it being sung most recently by Chan at the SG50 National Day Parade. Lee also composed the songs for the 2015 sold-out show, The LKY Musical starring Adrian Pang and Sharon Au.

The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman was first performed in 2011. The concert performance recounts his incredible musical journey from his childhood in the ‘60s to the debut of his 1989 alter ego, The Mad Chinaman. Reuniting with renowned director Jonathan Lim from the show’s debut staging, the upsized version will be greater and grander than ever before.

Check out my interview with the man himself below. RW

PHOTO: Joel Low Photography

PHOTO: Joel Low Photography

Hi Dick,

It’s a pleasure to interview you. Before we proceed further, I would like to extend a big CONGRATULATIONS to you for a resoundingly successful The LKY Musical! The music scores were a perfect fit for the musical.

  1. Dick, we have seen you as a singer, composer, songwriter and even a playwright. You’re a man of many talents. But if you could only choose one ‘talent’, which would you choose and why?

The first three you named are all linked to music, so I’d say music, as its my first love, and my most reliable means of expressing myself.

  1. Tell me something about you which nobody knows about.

I can’t ride a bicycle.

  1. The adventures of the Mad Chinaman was first staged in 2011. What has changed since then? What other adventures did the ‘Mad Chinaman’ go through in the past 4 years?

The first production ended in 1990 when I went to Japan, but this year’s show goes further to reveal my exploits in Japan and Hong Kong. I still end the show at around the late nineties so that I have more material for my next run.

  1. You started this musical journey since the 60s – way before many of us yappies were even born – and came up with the alter-ego ‘The Mad Chinaman’ in 1989. How did the idea of ‘The Mad Chinaman’ came about?

The whole show is about how that came to be, so I suggest you watch the concert to find out. (You can also read my autobiography upon which the show is based). Anyway, the Mad Chinaman is the name of my breakthrough album released in 1989.

  1. Tell me about one production you were involved in which you felt was the ‘defining moment’ in your career. What was your role in that production?

The release of ‘The Mad Chinaman’ was the turning point in my career. After its success, I was able to go full-time into music (I ran an events company prior to that), and it also launched my career in Asia.

  1. 40 years is a long time. Were there any moments that you felt unsure about this career path? Where would you be if you haven’t pursue music?

There have been several moments in my career when I was unsure if music was the right choice for me. However, these moments forced me to re-invent myself, and opened up new doors and broadened my experience.

  1. Finally, what can we expect from this Upsized, musical version of your life story? (raw, personal, intimate, etc)

The 2011 production was very intimate as it was held in a much smaller venue. This time, I need to fill the Esplanade Concert Hall with my songs and story, and I have a nine-piece band to help me with the music. But as for the story-telling part- well, I’ll just have to rely on my personality to pull it off.

Dick Lee The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman Upsized

Esplanade Concert Hall

Opens 3 September 2015 (One day only)

Dick Lee brings back his sold out show which recounts his musical journey from his childhood in the 60s to the debut of his alter-ego The Mad Chinaman in 1989. Illustrating his story with songs from his 40-year career, the UPSIZED version features a band of Singapore’s top musicians and an extended storyline which includes his adventures in Asia as The Mad Chinaman.

Ticket Pricing: $38 – $78 (Discounts available – visit the web link)

Web Link: Dick Lee The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman Upsized

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