Take a walk backstage of Monkey Goes West and you might stumble upon Joshua Goh practising his somersaults.
Just 12 years old and fresh off sitting for his PSLE, this limber young man is part of Martial House – a wushu training academy that’s contributing its brightest talents to this year’s pantomime.
“I’ve been training in wushu for six years!” he announces proudly, as he drops to the floor for a good, deep stretch.
Driven and bursting with energy, Joshua also trains for a host of other sports: gymnastics, swimming and golf (in order of preference).
The worst injury he’s sustained to date comes from the sport you’d least expect.
“When I swung my golf club once, I hit a rock,” he shares. “I twisted my wrist and had to rest for a week!”
Joshua is also disarmingly frank about his present limitations as a practitioner of wushu. “I was way better a few years ago, ’cause I didn’t have PSLE and all,” he says candidly.
He’s had to put his wushu training on hold for close to a month – partly because of his exams, and now because he’s performing in Monkey Goes West.
Although he’s not planning to become a full-time performer any time soon, he does enjoy thrilling audiences with his gravity-defying feats.
“I love all the cool tricks I get to do in the show!” he smiles.
Playing a younger version of the Monkey King, he tumbles through the air in an effortless series of flips.
What has been the biggest difference for Joshua in returning to Monkey Goes West?
“In 2014, I was a small monkey, but now I’m a big monkey!” he laughs.
His wushu training – which relies heavily on choreography, timing and skill – meant that he found dancing relatively easy when he first performed in Monkey Goes West in 2014.
Singing was more of a challenge for Joshua, although he’s considerably less fazed by the experience now. Indeed, he’s pleased to have been reunited with his vocal coaches, Irene and Audrey Jansen.
His only concern? The intervening two years have made a difference to his singing voice. “My voice is breaking because I’m going through puberty,” he explains. “So, when I sing now, I sometimes have to change from melody to harmony, or harmony to melody!”
Joshua has learnt quite a few things from his two stints in Monkey Goes West. “It’s quite fun working with everyone because they help me learn from my mistakes,” he points out. He’s also enjoyed learning to cooperate with the “very friendly” adult cast of the show.
But, most of all, he loves performing for a crowd – whether on stage or at a wushu competition.
“I love the adrenaline I get from performing,” he declares. “And from being the centre of attention!”