Interview with Hossan Leong and Leigh McDonald of Souvenir
Singapore’s favourite comedian Hossan Leong and Leigh McDonald reunite after many years in Souvenir, a comedy that recounts the real-life musical career of one of History’s most unforgettable Opera Stars, Florence Foster Jenkins. We chat with the two actors about their past works and what we can expect from the upcoming true story of the opera singer… who couldn’t sing!
The first time the both of you worked together was on 2002’s production of Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress. Tell us, what was it like working together for the first time?
Leigh: It was an amazing experience ! I loved every second of it, in fact it was because of this production and because of Hossan that I decided to settle in Singapore for 5 years !
Hossan: I’m so happy that I got to work with her. And yes after she settled in Singapore all of us worked together and helped her out, getting her positions in teaching, performing etc, even as a drama instructor at Tanjong Katong Girls School !
The both of you acted as narrators in TLC’s The Ugly Duckling. Could you share your experiences doing theatre for children and how it differs when you perform to an adult audience?
Both : Performing for children is hard ! They really are your toughest critics ! Adult audiences tend to be more polite, especially here in a local context. It can be difficult to gauge the reception at times.
Hossan : We had 3 shows a day, and it was the first time I did anything with The Little Company. But yes with children you definitely have to work at grabbing their attention.
Leigh : But it was great working in the production! The puppets were beautiful, but yes it was definitely hard with children as your audience. They are your most honest critics. Facing a bunch of screaming children definitely challenges us as performers to be more versatile. Adults, on the other hand, can be too polite at times.
You are back together again for the Souvenir. Tell us more about the show?
Leigh : It’s a very intriguing experience, for me to be part of this play, because it involves me doing everything I have been told not to do as a singer ! On one hand you have Florence, a terrible singer who is completely unaware of it, and one the other hand you have McMoon, who probably feels that his career is going down the drain. But the magical thing is that there is good which comes out of this !
Hossan : Because even though McMoon wasn’t pleased about working with Florence at first, he slowly comes to value her as a friend and actually misses her terribly at the end.
Leigh : Yes and we hope that the story will resonate with the audience and engage them to find their own inspiration from it.
Finally, what’s the one thing about acting that keeps you excited?
Hossan: The people I work with. Definitely. Having good company and finding performers that you can gel with definitely motivates me to continue acting. In fact I agreed to be in this play because of Leigh!
Leigh: Singapore is a small world, very unlike my home in the UK. I am thrilled to be back, and in Singapore everyone knows each other, so for me, coming to Singapore was like coming home!
Souvenir runs at the KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT from 19 – 29 September 2018. Click here to find out more about the show and to book your tickets.