BWW Previews: Morgan Oey and Lea Simanjuntak to Play Link Larkin and Velma Von Tussle on TEMAN's HAIRSPRAY
(This article is the part two of two. Read the first part here.)
TEMAN (Teater Musikal Nusantara) is bringing HAIRSPRAY to CIPUTRA ARTPRENEUR theater, Jakarta, on 21-22 December. TEMAN is teaming up with renowned local and international actors, including Morgan Oey and Lea Simanjuntak. Morgan and Lea shared their thoughts on Hairspray at a press conference last Thursday.
At the same event, Venytha Yoshiantini (artistic director for TEMAN and co-director of TEMAN's debut musical INTO THE WOODS) announced that HAIRPSRAY's cast list is made up of 90% local and 10% international performers. The talented and passionate local performers had been discovered through an open audition earlier this year in Jakarta; the production team is very excited to work with them.
Venytha herself will go on stage as plucky heroine Tracy Turnblad. Venytha is a LASALLE graduate, with a BA(Hons) Musical Theatre degree as well as numerous performing experiences to her name. HAIRSPRAY will be her Indonesian debut in a professional production.
Playing opposite her as the main love interest Link Larkin is the 29-year-old actor Morgan Oey. Morgan first came to prominence in 2010 as a member of the pop boy band SM*SH (read as 'smash') which he left back in 2013. Since then, Morgan took to acting in both TV and movies. He most recently played the main character role of Eggy in the upcoming sci-fi romance EGGNOID.
HAIRPSRAY will be Morgan's stage musical debut. As a former pop idol, Morgan is not unfamiliar with performing live on stage, but this would be his first time on stage for an extended length of time (with a running duration of more than two hours).
Morgan confessed that it had been his dream to perform in a stage musical. He's familiar with HAIRSPRAY through the 2007 movie starring Nikki Blonsky and Zac Effron among other Hollywood stars. He's elated for his first musical to be such a beloved piece musical theater.
Regarding taking the mantle of Link Larkin, he is working closely with Venytha in the process of studying and embodying the character.
"Link is basically the second most popular guy in the Corny Collins Show. And he knows this fact and revels in it. He's charming, sharply dressed, and just a touch narcissistic. That's what I have so far," said Morgan.
"To get prepared for the role, TEMAN is giving me and the other cast members training classes as needed. Since this will be my first fully English performance, I have to work on my diction with the help of coach Bee. English has always been a hobby of mine but now I'm taking it to a professional level."
As this will be his return to performing on stage in years, Morgan invites his fans to see him on the show.
"For those who miss me singing and dancing, come see Hairspray. I'll be doing both that AND acting. And everything is in a cool 60's style. See you there."
Lea Simanjuntak, meanwhile, will be playing the antagonistic Velma von Tussle. Lea is a soprano singer known for her illustrious career in genres ranging from pop, traditional, and religious music. She was also one of the principal cast members of MUSIKAL LASKAR PELANGI, originating the inspiring role of Bu Muslimah.
Just last year, she played the Witch in TEMAN's INTO THE WOODS. She was very impressed by the professional way TEMAN conducted the production that she immediately agreed to join them for another musical. This year, she hopes to get everyone in the cast share the same vision and energy as a team once more.
She most recently released a pop single titled Bersama ('Together'). The song's conception began with her concern on the increasing rate of depression and self-harm in Indonesia. She wants to tell everyone who is mentally struggling to share the burden with their loved ones for tackling the challenges together would easen the process.
On the different facets of her career, Lea considers herself as an artist first and foremost.
"Different people know me for different works. Some know me as a religious singer, others know me as a Batak singer, and so on. But to me I consider myself as an artist, creating works of art I feel needed to be seen and heard. Be that as a singer, actress, or anything else.
I'm very excited to play Velma. She's a larger than life character that allows me to just let loose and be over the top. When I played the Witch I had to be a bit more reserved, but now I can really make big movements."
To get into character, Lea draws from her personal experiences.
"Throughout my career, I've met people who underestimated and doubted me. I just remember those people and channel them into my take on Velma, as she's also someone who looks down on other people. And for her side that dotes on Amber, I also do something similar. I've met people who push their unfulfilled dreams onto their children and they would do anything to make those dreams come true."
For the story behind TEMAN's decision to pick HAIRSPRAY as their next production and other production tidbits, check out the first part of the article here.
HAIRPSRAY tickets are already on sale, with early bird prices available until November 7. The rest of cast announcements and other information will be posted on TEMAN's Instagram (@teman.musicals).
(photos: Mia Namira)