Timothy Wan is a triple threat - an actor, a singer and a dancer. He tells us about his love for musical theatre and how it all began with homegrown musicals like Fried Rice Paradise and Beauty World.
Tell us about how you were bitten by the theatre bug.
The very first theatre show I remember catching when I was still studying in ACS(I) was a production of To Kill A Mockingbird, staged by ACJC. It was a text that we were doing for literature in Sec One. Maybe it was actually seeing characters that I had only read about coming to life before my eyes, but watching it unfold before me was an incredible experience that drew me in. When the show finally ended, it was like finally being able to let out my breath again. After that, I started to really look forward to watching plays that I had read being performed in real life.
How did you get involved in theatre?
I think I first got into acting through doing little class skits and the like. It was only in my university years that I really started to want to get involved in the local theatre scene. My interest was fuelled by being around fellow students who also wanted to do theatre and having professors who were industry veterans.
You're a triple threat who loves to act, sing and dance. How did you discover musical theatre?
Strangely, my musical theatre introduction came more from local television. I remember songs from Fried Rice Paradise and Beauty World being played on TV and my mum and dad singing them at home. It wasn't until much later, when I caught W!LD RICE's 2008 staging of Beauty World, that I understood the history behind the show and recognised the songs that I had been singing along to since I was a kid. Musicals have always had a special place in my heart because I love singing, and the songs in musicals always help to tell the story with tremendous emotion.
What was it like for you performing professionally in musicals like Glass Anatomy and Army Daze?
Being a fresh graduate, I was very fortunate to get the chance to be involved with the musical version of Army Daze, as well as Toy Factory's Glass Anatomy. That really opened my eyes to what it's like to work in a professional capacity in the theatre industry. It was a steep learning curve, learning to sing, dance and act all at the same time! I had a tough time at the beginning, probably because I was not conditioned physically for the rigour of doing a full-blown show, especially being in the ensemble, where there are quick changes, dance steps and loads of blocking to remember in addition to singing and acting! But I look back on those days fondly now. It's really taught me a great deal, and I'm incredibly grateful for how it has prepared me as an actor working professionally today.
Why young & W!LD?
I was extremely excited about joining young & W!LD because it's a long-term developmental programme, and it allows us the time and space to really create something special as an ensemble. One of the things I've realised is that we never really have the luxury of time to develop work over a long period for most productions. Our programme directors, Rodney Oliveiro and Serena Ho, wanted to bring together a group encompassing people with different backgrounds, and I was interested in being a part of that process of getting to know one another to work together.
young and W!LD has been going strong for four months, and you've just had your first showcase with Little Riots and Other Stories. What have you learnt about your craft and yourself during this entire process?
I've definitely learnt a great deal about myself as a performer. Serena and Rodney have helped me to become more aware of certain habits that I tend to rely on as an actor, and that's been very useful in helping me not to be limited physically as a performer.
Little Riots was a journey that pushed me to step out of my comfort zone as an actor and an artist. I had to learn how to write for myself, in a way that could truly tell a story dramatically, and not just speak long descriptive passages of text on stage. It also encouraged me to look a little deeper inside myself for material to write about, because the work that we wanted to create was very much about honesty.
Ultimately, it was rewarding to see that the audiences enjoyed our stories! We were honestly quite worried at the beginning that people might find the work too abstract or difficult to relate to. But I suppose they saw the truth of what we were trying to present eventually, and everyone can find a way to connect to that.
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