The popular C.S. Lewis classic takes the stage this month. We speak to Nathania Ong, who plays two roles in Narnia: Susan and the White Witch.
Contributed By Annabelle Low
Based on C.S. Lewis’ beloved classic, Kids Performing Repertory Theatre is restaging its sold out 2009 production of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, featuring an international cast of adults and children from Australia, England, USA, Japan, Philippines and Singapore. The brainchild of entertainment entrepreneur Kuo Po, the woman behind Talentime 2001 winners Cherry Chocolate Candy and local artiste Wendi Koh, Kid’s Perfoming Repertory Theatre presents the Singapore adaptation of the musical.
Narnia is a Christian allegory, an epic tale of good versus evil. Four schoolchildren, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, enter through a magical wardrobe into a forest kingdom of perpetual winter. The treacherous White Witch who rules over this winterland lures Edmund into her clutches and he has to be rescued by the original ruler of the land, the golden-maned Lion King, Aslan.
The meaty role of the White Witch is played by Nathania Ong, who also takes on the part of Susan. She is an artist with Kuo’s talent management company, Precious Entertainment.
“We discovered her two years ago when she won Popstar of the Year 2009, a singing competition we organize annually,” explains Kuo. “She has been taking vocal lessons from me once a week since 2009. Nathania is a multi-faceted artist: she’s bright, she sings, she dances, she acts. She’s only 13, but she never allows herself to be intimidated by that.”
On Ong’s dual role—tough even for adult musical theater performers—Kuo says, “It’s a challenge for Nathania; two years ago she played Susan, since then she definitely has grown artistically, and it would be too easy for her to play the same role. We know that she can rise to the occasion.”
Ong’s confidence belies her years. She has sung in front of the President and also before an international audience during the Youth Olympic Games. At City Harvest Church, where she is a member, she won top prize at the Emerge competition this year. She tells us more about her upcoming performance.
How did you come to be on stage?
I performed for President Nathan during Total Defence Day back in 2002 when I was 4 years old. I hated it! I was so scared! It wasn’t until 2008 when I went for Hope Camp and had my first exposure on stage that I discovered my love for performing. The training I’ve had is from Kid’s Performing, and I’ve learned a lot from my dad, Kevin Ong. He’s a dentist but he’s also an amazing singer.
How did you come to audition for Narnia?
I found out about Kids Performing when I was in ballet school. I saw one of my friend’s pictures on the wall and decided to join. I played Susan in the original 2009 production of Narnia. This year, I went for the audition after a cheerleading competition so I looked really strange. One of the judges wanted me to play the White Witch, so I ended up with two roles.
What have been the biggest challenges?
There’s loads of lines to memorize! Also time management. I play both Susan and the White Witch. Susan is really gentle while the White Witch is the bad one, so I have to strike a balance. Rehearsals are five hours a day, but I love performing so it’s great.
Have you read any of the Narnia Chronicles?
No but I’ve watched all the movies. My favorite character is the White Witch—it’s more fun to play the bad guy.
Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe will be playing 3 shows a day at the Theatre (Level 3) at Suntec Singapore from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1. Tickets at S$70 and S$50 are available from Sistic. For children below 12, tickets are available at S$35. For more details, visit www.sistic.com or www.kidsperforming.com/kprt.