Q: Have you taken part in any past plays or musicals at Keppel? What were they, and what roles did you play?
A: Yes. I have been in the productions Flower Drum Song, Peter Pan at Keppel, Peter Pan at Scotland, and Hairspray. For Flower Drum Song – that’s the musical I did in freshman year – I was just an ensemble member. For Peter Pan at Keppel I played Jane Darling and a Lost Boy. For Peter Pan at Scotland I played the role of Peter Pan. And now I play Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray.
Q: Is Tracy your first main role at Mark Keppel?
A: If you consider being Peter Pan in Scotland as a main role, then no. If you don’t, then yes.
Q: How did you feel when you found out that you got the role?
A: I was definitely grateful that I got the role because this is my senior year and I honestly do not see myself ever pursuing any sort of theatre work or continuing in any further productions in college. This was definitely my last chance to ever be a lead in a production, so I’m definitely thankful that Ms. Phillips gave me the role.
Q: Did you originally audition for this role? If not, which role did you audition for?
A: I did audition for the role of Tracy Turnblad, but I was also considering the role of Penny Pingleton. I liked the quirkiness of Penny, and the fact that she’s such a weird friend. I kind of saw myself as Penny, but I also saw myself mostly in Tracy. If I couldn’t be either, I would definitely want to be Link! For one, I love the song It Takes Two, and I would totally love to sing that song. It’s also just being in that role where all these girls are just falling for you – I would never know that feeling unless I was playing that role.
Q: What about Tracy made you decide to audition for her role?
A: Tracy is this incredibly uplifting and fun character to play. Comparing myself to her, I’m totally different from her. I’m not one to be super outspoken and speak my mind, so I definitely love to play that role – just to be somebody different and just to see what it’s like to be that extroverted personality. She also loves to dance, have fun, and at the same time, speaks her mind.
Q: In what ways do you relate personally to your character role Tracy?
A: I’m definitely short. In terms of stature, I’m as short as Tracy would be. I’d like to think I’m as positive as she is because she has such a positive and optimistic outlook on the world. I think I can kind of relate to that. If anything bad ever happens to me, I try to turn it around into something better that is actually is.
Q: How did you prepare for your role? What character work have you done?
A: I practice singing the songs in my bathroom. I do it during the middle of the night when my parents and brother are sleeping, because I’m so insecure about my voice, and I don’t want them to hear anything.
Q: Were there any difficulties that you encountered during the time you were preparing for the musical? If yes, what kind and how did you overcome it?
A: Definitely the dancing. Among the three components of when it comes to being in a musical – acting, singing, and dancing – dancing is the hardest for me because for one, I have two left feet. I cannot dance. I have no rhythm at all. I really have to get the hang of it as soon as possible because there’s just so many dance numbers. But once I practice more and I rehearse the same dance numbers over and over again, I think I’ve gotten a little better.
Q: How do you balance your schoolwork and responsibilities with the play?
A: Being Tracy is definitely a huge task, especially because I’m in a lot of the scenes. Usually after I finish rehearsals, I come home, eat dinner, and I try to power through my homework. For me, it’s really hard for me to wake up in the morning and do my homework because I start falling asleep. I try to do my homework at home because there’s no way I can possibly do it during rehearsals. I think I’m getting better, though. I think I’m getting the hang of it.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment as an actor at Keppel?
A: My most memorable moment was definitely in freshman year when I was in Flower Drum Song. That was during the time rehearsals extended to 10 o’ clock and 9 o’clock. Us freshmen would tag along with the seniors who drove and go to some restaurants to eat dinner. Since all of the freshmen were excited, and we thought it was so cool to hang out with the seniors, all of us were bunched up into this one car, and we coined the car as the “clown car” because this senior was basically driving a bunch of these little underclassmen. It was so much fun.
Q: What advice do you have for any aspiring actors and actresses?
A: If anybody ever confronts you or doubts your talent, just know that if what you have and what you possess is good enough for you, then you rock it. Don’t let what anybody else says affect how you perform. However, in addition to that, if people give you compliments and grace about your talent, take that, but be humble about it.
Q: What do you hope for this show to become? What do you hope for this show to become for yourself?
A: Hairspray itself is definitely a huge undertaking especially for this theatre company, but I really hope our hard work reflects the quality of the show. For me, being on stage, is such an incredible feeling, and hearing the laughs and applause – it’s really boosts up any actor’s spirit. I hope I can take my experience, memories with the cast members and my friends on with me after high school. I hope this show ends my senior year with a bang.
Q: Do you have anything to say for the people coming to the show?
A: Thank you for coming to see our production of Hairspray, and I hope you all have an amazing and fun experience.