Dwayne Lau is the kind of guy who’s all smiles the moment you first meet him. “I’ve been very blessed to have been brought up in a very loving family who’ve given me so much. I never lacked anything, and I think because of that, I became a very generous person, be it with my time or my love, and I just wanted to pay it forward to the people around me,” he says, practically emanating warmth.
Over the years, Dwayne has only grown from strength to strength, starting his career with children’s shows before really hitting his stride with bigger shows. In 2017 alone, he was in two of the biggest musicals in Singapore: SRT’s Forbidden City and W!ld Rice’s La Cage. Come 2018, Dwayne will be spreading love the way he knows best – through theatre, as he premieres an all new Valentine’s themed show. Previously playing to a sold out crowd in 2015, A Date With Dwayne – Let’s Go Steady! returns with all new material as Dwayne explores love in all its forms.
Consisting of a series of vignettes featuring characters from Dwayne’s imagination, Dwayne explained to us the show’s origins. “Love is not a smooth sailing journey, and one day you could be elated and the next, completely crushed. To bring these ideas to life, I thought about how sometimes when I go out with friends, I randomly put on accents and start to banter. My friends told me I should just incorporate all these characters into a show, and with A Date With Dwayne, they’re now given the chance to become concrete people with their own backstories. For example, there’s this florist who’s going through some unrequited love. It’s so real, and I wanted people to recognize themselves in it, but not make it sad. Instead, I wanted them to celebrate it and laugh.”
“So many of these stories and characters were created when I was younger and I’ve even got some old photos. When I was a kid, I’d take my dad’s sarong and i would create this Uncle Muthu character who’s a prata man, or I’d tie a towel around my head and become the Indian mama shop uncle downstairs. Just the other day, my sister showed my godson a photo of me dressed as a knight complete with breastplate and shield, and he went ‘Godpa, can you take it out for me to wear?’ Of course I couldn’t, it was so many years ago already. So I ended up taking out some cardboard and made him one from scratch! Creating and making things is something I really enjoyed, and I never want to let that imagination die.”
“One of the most important things I’ve learnt is the universal importance of communication, and during the performance, I’ll also be explaining the idea of love languages. Like for one of my friends, because my love language is gifts, I’d buy things for him. But he’d say things like ‘wahlau, so leceh, where am I going to put it?’ and I’d be hurt because I go all over the place to look for the perfect gift. But then I’d realize that his love language is actually quality time. Same goes for my mum: she’d always joked how under her bed she has a museum, with kettles and sandwich makers hidden under there people gave her over the years and when something spoils, all she has to do is dig up a replacement. We realized that the material things weren’t important to her, and it was all about being happy together.”
Beyond simply being a series of vignettes, A Date with Dwayne also features unique set design by Melissa Ho, and Dwayne had a very clear idea of what he wanted: “I wanted to invite my audience members into my home. So onstage, it’ll look like a house, with a kitchen, toilet, bedroom and so on. It’s actually very similar to my own, because we’re actually bringing stuff like my bedding and furniture and rugs and chairs, almost like I’m transporting my home there! It’s funny because we actually host a lot of parties at my house, from birthdays when I was a kid to Christmas or Chinese New Year. It’s an intimate space where families and friends gather to share funny stories and personal issues, and I wanted to recreate that and give the audience access to my life.”
Dwayne won’t be alone though, and will be joining forces with some of theatre’s most star-studded talents onstage. Said Dwayne: “I’ll be performing with Siti K, Ethel Yap and Ryan Ang. Siti has always been a close friend, she’s such a good team player, has great ideas and we have very good chemistry. Ethel emotes and acts very well, and has a very good voice. I’ll be singing ‘Three Little Words’ from Ghost with her. They’re both such genuine, sincere people, so when they share, theres a lot of truth that comes out and they share the same sentiments as me when it comes to love.”
“As for Ryan, I got to know him from La Cage, and I needed another guy to play some of the roles. Because he’s better known as a brilliant dancer and choreographer, he doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to act. He’s actually really quirky and really funny, and it’s a side of him you won’t really get to see unless you know him personally. I want his fans and friends to come to the show and really see him shine, and go ‘oh wow, Ryan can act!’ One of the characters he’s playing is a zen yoga instructor, so there’s this scene where there aunties go to the class because they have a crush on him but can’t do yoga to save their life. Even though he knows, he also has no choice but to entertain these women and let them do whatever they want to him to keep his job.”
“The synergy we share onstage is just really great, and our entire team has been amazing. We’ve got Pam Oei directing, and we’ve got Elaine Chan playing live music for us, and they’re both such beautiful souls with good, fresh ideas. For music, Elaine is mostly helping us arrange some pops songs, with one new, original song composed by my sister Daphne for the show. It’s going to be a real emotional journey going on this ‘date’ with me and my friends, and I think it’s going to be very personal, very intimate, and everyone there will feel they’re having some serious quality time with me.”
Hearing that, we’re definitely convinced to save the date, for a date with Dwayne Lau this February.