Singapore’s most successful original musical Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress will be restaged this month. This time, the role of The Empress Dowager will be played by Cheryl Tan, Kit Chan and Sheila Francisco depicting different stages of her life.
Tan, whom you might remember as Ivy Chan Poh Choo from Beauty World (2015) and Juliet from Shakespeare in the Park’s Romeo and Juliet (2016), tells us more about playing this iconic role.
By Melanie Lee
How do you feel about being cast as the imperial concubine Yehenara in this run of Forbidden City?
I feel really honoured, especially to be sharing the stage with such amazing people. Broadway star Steffanie Leigh and West End star Earl Carpenter have experience on the biggest stages in the world, and Kit is such a household name in Singapore. I’m really learning a lot just by being in the same room and watching them. I’m very grateful to Singapore Repertory Theatre for that chance. It’s also my first time performing at Esplanade Theatre and I cannot wait!
How are you preparing yourself for this role?
Apart from the normal rehearsal process, I’m also going into text analysis and exploring different decisions and iterations of the character. I’ve also read some of the books on Cixi. There are very different pictures of her painted by historians, which makes it mysterious and exciting.
What has it been like sharing this role with Kit Chan?
I really like working with Kit. She has such a unique sound, and she phrases so beautifully. She’s also super nice and down-to-earth and generous with mentorship. I’m very grateful.
How do you personally respond to this story?
I hope that by being a part of this story, I am at least playing a small part in moving the world towards being better for women.
Any tips on keeping your voice in tip-top shape?
Drink A LOT of water. Warm up and warm down. Never get comfortable – keep pursuing deeper knowledge of your instrument so you can be safe.