Pas­sion for per­form­ing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By KEVIN LOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

PE­NANG-BORN Michelle Tan Hui Sze has al­ways had a pas­sion for singing and per­form­ing arts. With a Masters in Mu­si­cal The­atre un­der her belt, she is cur­rently head­ing a mu­si­cal the­atre pro­gramme in the Bri­tish Academy of Per­form­ing Arts, Petaling Jaya. Love She was re­cently seen in Story

– The Mu­si­cal, which was staged at Kuala Lumpur Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre in June. The mu­si­cal by Stephen Clark, re­volves around music stu­dent Jenny Cav­il­leri (played by Tan) and law stu­dent Oliver Bar­rett IV, who fall in love at first sight. Their happy life soon takes a down­turn when they dis­cover that Jenny has a ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

“I in­jected a lot of my­self into Jenny be­cause she’s such a real and re­lat­able char­ac­ter,” mused Tan, 32, dur­ing an in­ter­view at Me­nara Star.

“I have al­ways been very in­ter­ested in singing. When I was in school, I joined the school choir,” added Tan.

When she was 14, she made her de­but as a mem­ber of the cho­rus line in Hansel & Gre­tel, a pro­duc­tion by the Pe­nang Arts Coun­cil. She played a gin­ger­bread man!

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, Tan worked in bank­ing but did not de­rive sat­is­fac­tion from her job. She found her true call­ing when she stum­bled upon an ad­ver­tise­ment by Dama Orches­tra (cur­rently known as Dama Asia) in The Star, look­ing for In singers and dancers. It was for Per­fect Har­mony,

a mu­si­cal by The Star in con­junc­tion with their 40th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion in 2011.

“The Star gave me my first au­di­tion and pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to delve into the world of per­form­ing arts. And for that, I am for­ever thank­ful!” en­thused Tan.

Asked about her ex­pe­ri­ences in mu­si­cal the­atre, Tan replied: “At the end of the day, peo­ple are look­ing for more than just the voice, es­pe­cially in mu­si­cal the­atre.

“So, I can’t keep re­ly­ing on my voice be­cause it is more than just singing. This was one of the chal-fea­tured lenges I faced as soloist in Larger Than Life (staged by Dama in 2014, fea­tur­ing songs from Broad­way mu­si­cals),” ex­plained Tan.

“Another chal­lenge I face is find­ing a line be­tween the cha­rand ac­ter and my­self, try­ing not to put too much of my­self into the char­ac­ter.

“Af­ter one or two shows, peo­ple will recog­nise that sim­i­lar­ity. And in the end, the char­ac­ter I’m play­ing could come off as mono to wouldn’t nous and I want that.”

Up next, Tan will be per­form­ing in Bosom Bud­dies (with Tan Yon Lynn and Loh Ui Li on pi­ano) on Sept 7 at The­atre Lounge Cafe in Plaza Da­mas. It fea­tures a se­lec­tion of songs from mu­si­cals such as Cats and Miss Saigon.

Tan con­cluded the in­ter­view with her thoughts on the fu­ture of per­form­ing arts in Malaysia.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who are pas­sion­ate about per­form­ing arts and it’s good to see that. Com­mit­ment is im­por­tant and per­form­ing arts should be con­sid­ered more than just a hobby.”

The Pa­per’s Peo­ple is a weekly col­umn which in­tro­duces Malaysia-ev­ery­day based folk, do­ing what they love. If you have any per­son to rec­om­mend, e-mail us at star2@thes­tar.com.my.

‘Com­mit­ment is im­por­tant and per­form­ing arts should be con­sid­ered more than just a hobby,’ says Tan. — Photo: ART CHEN/ The Star

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