Student Blogger Spotlight: Meet Natalie Liew!

Natalie shares her experiences and advice as a theatre student in our Student Blogger Spotlight Series.

By: Oct. 25, 2023
Student Blogger Spotlight: Meet Natalie Liew!

As a part of our student blogger program, theatre students from all over the world share their experiences and tips for surviving their college years over on our Student Center page.

Next up in our new Student Blogger Spotlight Series is Natalie Liew! Natalie, who was born and raised in Malaysia, recently started her second year as a musical theatre student at the University of Winchester in Winchester, England.

Read Natalie's advice for auditioning, stress management, parental support, and more below!

What is something you wish someone told you about being a theatre/arts major?

I wish someone had told me just how much I would have to invest in my degree. I was aware that I would have to spend a little extra on certain pieces of equipment such as a dance kit and theatre blacks as we have a standard uniform. However, I didn't realize I would be spending so much on printing credit for sheet music that I've also had to pay for, and even more on scripts/books. Then there's the additional tools I need to get as I climb from one year to the next as the course begins to demand a little more.

Fresh into my second year, I’ve had to obtain a resistance band of three different levels, a new book for acting and more sheet music to build my repertoire, and there may be more to come as we continue to progress but it isn’t something I mind at all if it will help me prepare for the future. 

What do parents need to know to better support their children in theatre/arts majors?

In my experience, I think parents need to understand more about the craft of theatre/art majors before undermining their children's majors for not being nearly as highly sought out as medicine or engineering.

Being the only one in my generation to pursue theatre in the family, I get a lot of questions from my relatives but the ones who are always the most curious are my parents. They didn’t have a clue what it was I wanted to do when I’d first told them that I wanted to pursue musical theatre until they saw it for themselves. And it wasn’t the bit where I was on stage but the amount of work I had to do at home with a singular script. Memorizing my lines, practicing my songs, going through choreography. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is since many think art is the ‘easier route’, and all it took was a closer look at the craft for my parents to understand how the form is so intricate. It probably got them to appreciate it a little more than they used to since they had never been too fond of musical theatre.

It doesn’t hurt to take a closer look at things you don’t understand rather than jumping into conclusions based on what you’ve seen on the surface. Ultimately, a bit of encouragement can certainly go a long way in the arts, and there will always be something unique in a person that gives more to the art scene. They have to understand that it's not a static scene, but one that encourages more.

How has your theatre education helped you off-stage?

With a lot to juggle in musical theatre, my time management has improved immensely. I was never the sort to resort to planners but they have been the backbone of my days. While I have been trained with discipline since young, being in a rehearsal room has also taught me plenty about being in a professional setting while also having fun with what I do. A common theme between the two lessons is the fact that I've managed to find balance in professionalism and fun, and my personal and university life.

What is one thing you couldn't live without as a theatre student?

The Internet. It is the hub of all resources which include research, sheet music, script pdfs, online shopping for physical scripts, videos, networking, communicating, planning, note taking and etc. The list could go on forever! It is simply the convenience of having everything on my phone or on my laptop whenever I need it, and having every ounce of information just a click away. Without the Internet, I doubt I would be able to learn about musicals without seeing them in person or finding a physical libretto in the library. I would have no source to listen to cast albums, and I'd waste a lot of time searching for a singular book in my massive uni library for an essay. I'd lose a lot without it.

What is your best tip for balancing academics and your theatre studies during the semester?

Always have a planner on hand, whether it is your phone or a physical book. It is a lot simpler having things written down for your reference. It's also good to write down how you will prepare for the upcoming classes you'll be having so that you come in prepared. Lists make for good prioritising and striking off items from your list make for a good stress reliever too!

What is your best advice for students entering the college audition process?

Everyone in that audition room wants you to succeed just as much as you want yourself to succeed! Never try to duplicate a performance the way you have seen another performer do it as the panel always wants to see you for your ability to bring a piece to life, and always dare to go big.

What is your favorite way to decompress during the more stressful moments of the semester?

My favorite ways to decompress tend to either be sitting at my desk with my laptop and drawing tablet or lying in bed and catching up on the rest I'll need for the next day. It depends on what I'm feeling when the stress hits me because there will be times I cannot bear to be less productive and it's those days when I'll be on my laptop writing or drawing away to my heart's content. Then there are times when the stress leaves me exhausted with a migraine. So, I resort to sleep after a good meal. A cup of Thai milk tea has always done wonders for me.

Catch up on Natalie's previous blogs here!

BroadwayWorld is currently taking applications for our Spring Student Blogger Session, running February through May. The program is open for both high school and college theatre students of all disciplines, from actors to writers to techs, and beyond! For more information and to apply to the program, click here.