Singers Danny McNie and Helen Walsh may have intimidating credentials, but divas they are not.
Having sung for many productions both internationally and back in their own home states, you could probably say they are seasoned pros – Danny was cast in Miss Saigon and Helen has starred in many blockbuster musicals including Mamma Mia! ,Cats and Les Miserables. Warm, friendly and genuinely excited to be part of a new show, they tell us all about their roles, the new Voyage de la Vie songs, and how hard it is to watch fellow cast members perform their death-defying acts.
1. Hello Helen and Danny! How do you like the food here in Singapore? What’s your favourite?
Helen: The food’s great. Seafood at Clarke Quay – amazing!
Danny: It’s amazing. Our director, Michael la Fleur, has made me a fan of stingray.
2. What drew you to the arts, song, and theatre?
Helen: The arts chooses you; you don’t choose it. There’s something inside you that says ‘I want to do that’, so you just follow the path and do it. I studied singing when I was about 15 and went on to study opera for four years, and when I finished studying, I went straight into musicals. From there, it’s just love.
Danny: I agree with what Helen says: that it finds you. I grew up in a really musical family. My aunt gave me a copy of Phantom of the Opera and there was no looking back. I discovered my voice when I was 13 and started taking voice lessons. I went to college for musical theatre and have been working ever since. It’s the only thing I can do, really.
3. You have performed in many productions and theatres worldwide. What is the one recurring experience or theme in all of them?
Helen: I think no matter what theatre you go to, you’ll always find people who love theatre and are kindred spirits. Everybody is really supportive and there for the same reason. It’s great.
Danny: To add on to that, a common theme is the audience; we wouldn’t have jobs without the audience. They’re there for an experience and to hear a story.
4. How different is Voyage de la Vie, a circus spectacular, compared to your previous roles?
Danny: It’s different yet similar. For my role as the Young Man I’m on stage the whole time singing and running around, which is what we do in musicals. However I also get to sit and watch these brilliant people do things that I cannot imagine doing, hanging 30 feet in the air, jumping from one rope to another. I never get sick of watching an art form that is different from what I’m used to doing.
Helen: I think that Jonathan Lim’s (the composer) music is something that helps to tie everything together like a story, so the show is similar to a musical in that way.
Danny: And to his credit, he wrote Helen’s part so beautifully, I feel that the show has come full circle. Helen sings it so beautifully too!
5. Speaking of Jonathan Lim, what do you think of his music?
Helen: Jonathan Lim is amazing. He teamed with Adam our musical director and Michael La Fleur our resident director, who has put words into Jonathan’s music , and it has been an absolutely wonderful collaborative experience. I’d happily sing more of Jonathan’s music and Michael’s words. I think they should write a musical for us, don’t you think, Danny?
Danny: I’m in, I’m in. And I think that there’s a variety to his music – everything from rock to beautiful ballads.
Helen: It really captures the excitement and everything for each scene. That’s such a gift.
Danny: The orchestrations are stunning.
6. Danny you play The Young Man. Tell us more about your character.
He’s in his mid twenties, has a job, and is unhappy with where he’s at. It’s a Friday night and the boss comes in and he has to work all weekend, so he’s frustrated and lost. Then we go into this magical land and he gets taught all these lessons. And I think that we can all relate because we all have this universal experience in our twenties, where you look for answers which you find as you go through life.
7. Helen, you play The Muse. Tell us more about your character.
She’s the representation of the boy’s journey: the maternal instinct, lover, friend, all of the things that help him on his voyage. Just like a muse, someone who helps others bring out their creativity, she’s essentially his inner voice helping him find his way.
8. What is the hardest thing to do, as part of the cast?
Helen: You know, I reckon the hardest thing to do is to stand on stage and watch Aurelia perform up in the air! Even though I’m in character, I find it very hard not to go “oh my god how can they do that?!”
Danny: Helen stole my answer!
Helen: It’s true!
Danny: When you come see the show, you’ll know what we mean.
Helen: All the acts are so amazing and I can’t believe they do that every night.
Danny: And it’s not something you see every day. We’re both on stage and it’s so awe-inspiring. But they’re also the moments that I look forward to, because they’re all so beautiful.
9. Last question: what’s the easiest thing to do as part of the cast?
Helen: Coming to work every day!
Danny: Sitting in the make-up chair and letting them do everything for you, they’re so lovely and we all just chit chat.
Helen and Danny share their audience experience and they give us one good reason each why you should catch Voyage de la Vie:
Voyage de la Vie a theatrical circus spectacular happens Thursdays to Mondays at 8pm. There is an additional matinee show on Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm. Tickets are priced at S$48, S$68, S$88, and S$188 and are available at all SISTIC outlets, www.sistic.com.sg, or www.rwsentosa.com. For more information, visit the webpage here.