Opera Australia and John Frost’s production of The King and I opened in Brisbane earlier this month, marking the professional music theatre debut of many up-and-coming performers. AussieTheatre is thrilled to be featuring a new interview series entitled Getting To Know You to introduce these new artists to their music theatre audience!
Today we chat with Chris Fung, an incredibly spirited and passionate performer who has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Performance Studies and Education from Sydney University and has also completed the Queensland Conservatorium Musical Theatre program (QCGU).
Getting to know you
What is your role in the production?
I’m a PROPMAN in the ENSEMBLE which means I lift heavy things (and some women who are definitely not heavy, not heavy at all). I’m also understudying the King of Siam.
When did you know you wanted to become a performer?
Sometime after my unconquerable desire to be a MILITARY DICTATOR of my own island nation – Bananatopia – and my somewhat more conquerable desire to be a houseboat captain.
It was actually school choir that did it. I got to sing a solo in an arrangement of a well-known African spiritual – ‘Wade in the Water’. Being a black woman is good for the soul. Regardless of how well you do it.
Cheers Mr. Copeman.
Where did you train?
The Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University – Musical Theatre program – just like Vivien!
What was your reaction when you discovered you had been cast in this show?
I yelled my silly head off. But it was really manly. More like bellowing than anything else. Also, I certainly didn’t run around in circles arm in arm with my good buddy, who was also bellowing in a decidedly masculine fashion.
Not at all.
Your first musical theatre job has you performing with award winning veterans of the stage and screen – Lisa McCune, Marty Rhone, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and John Adam – what have you learnt from working with such an experienced cast?
[pull_left]The most extraordinary thing I have drawn from the rehearsal room is the depth of attention paid to being particular[/pull_left]
The most extraordinary thing I have drawn from the rehearsal room is the depth of attention paid to being particular. These men and women have spent entire decades shaping their artistic aesthetics until they gleam and sparkle in the sunshine.
From the remarkable breadth of Teddy’s sound – to Lisa’s imaginative focus and presence, to John’s resonance and treatment of the spoken voice – to Marty’s grounding. Everywhere you look – there are lessons to be learned.
It’s truly a spectacular place to be someone learning his craft.
The King and I features an incredible 15 minute Jerome Robbins ballet in Act 2 – how do you keep yourself fit and ready for performance every night?
I come from a background in Obstacle Course Racing – so I do a BUNCH of bodyweight exercises and trail running – and squats and dance training. Also STRETCHING! You gotta stretch bro. If you don’t stretch bro. You lose out on all these gains bro. The gains bru.
Describe the production for us in three words.
Familiar, Alien, Lovely.
What has been the most exciting/memorable moment so far (rehearsals or at the theatre)?
I am not capable of answering this question!
Is there anything you have learned during this contract about the music theatre (or theatre) industry which surprised you?
The pace and ferocity with which this world turns.
You have the job for a reason – and you are trusted with the responsibility in doing it.
You simply have to learn, and learn well. You are here for your ability to maintain focus and attention. You are paid to be adaptable and open, and willing.
And above all. Above all other things in the entirety of all mankind – to remember your joy.
Because if you do not love what you are doing – then you should be doing something, anything else.
Unless that anything else involves attempting to conscript friends and relatives in an amphibious assault on what you will later discover to be Tasmania. I don’t advise doing that. That’s bad times.
What is your go-to ‘belt it out in the shower’ song?
‘ONE DAY MORE’ (Les Miserables by Claude Michel Schoenberg and Alain Boublil)
In ‘getting to know’ Chris, AussieTheatre discovered a gem! He recently proposed to his girlfriend Jess in a spectacularly elaborate and theatrical manner and the fruits of his efforts (with the help of his classmates from the Queensland Conservatorium) can be seen in this hilarious and moving video below. This is Music Theatre Love at its best!
For more information about The King and I and to book tickets for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, visit thekingandimusical.com.au