Paul Andrew interviewed Lena Cruz about her role as Cynthia in Priscilla - The Musical. He spoke to her about her great skill with Ping Pong balls and swearing in Filipino…

Lena CruzWhere did you first learn to dance?
I started at the Sydney Dance Company pretty late - when I was 20. I felt so uncoordinated and stiff in the beginning! But I got hooked pretty quickly and the teachers were great. I still go there when I can. 

What new tricks in the art of choreography did you learn for Priscilla?
Well I had to really learn how to trust the process, even though there were times when I thought, “this is going way too overboard!”
What first inspired you to become an actor?
Miss Saigon was the show that did it. I realised that I wanted to sing, dance and act on stage. I missed out on that show - which was a big learning curve for me. I decided that I need to really improve my skills, and that’s when I decided to go to WAAPA.
What did you enjoy most about WAAPA?
Discovering the magical world of stage and performance and the people who make it happen.
What has been your most challenging acting role so far?
Being a hippie in Hair the Musical. I had to be naked on stage along with everyone else for the end of act one. I didn’t think I could do it at first what with my Catholic upbringing. But then very quickly I got over the reservation and it became my favourite part of the show. It was fun to see people’s reaction regarding nudity.
And your most satisfying role so far?
I played Jenny in The Threepenny Opera and we had this brilliant Russian director who was totally left field and not every one was a fan of his process. I totally trusted him and it was so much fun to see the show through his eyes.

What type of roles or characters would you love to perform?
Playing non-Asian roles is always good. I also like playing offbeat characters because of the surprise factor (Cynthia in Priscilla The Musical being one of them!).
Tell me a little about your audition experience for the role of Cynthia?
I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in an audition! I laughed, everyone laughed. I told Simon Phillips (Director of Priscilla The Musical) that when I first saw the film, I said to myself that I would never EVER play that character. He said with a grin “was that when you were high and mighty?”

Auditions are always competitive nowadays. But I believe the only important thing is to do my best. If I get the role, then it’s a bonus.
{xtypo_quote_left}I told Simon Phillips that when I first saw the film, I said to myself that I would never EVER play that character. He said with a grin “was that when you were high and mighty?”{/xtypo_quote_left}
You play Cynthia, Bob's strong willed "mail order bride" - what or who inspired your character?
It’s a combination of a few people that I know. I tell my Mum she’s the main inspiration for this role. Lucky she’s got a great sense of humour!

Cynthia has herself has a pretty fabulous entertainment background?
Cynthia and I have one thing in common – we both like to “PAPORM”! It’s amazing what the desire to perform will make you do – even move half way around the world to do party tricks in outback Australia! The audience just adore Cynthia.
When the Priscilla bus arrives and Bernadette meets Bob - played by Michael Caton - does Cynthia detect the vibe between Bob and Bernadette?
I don’t think she knows and I don’t think she cares. All Cynthia is thinking about is the kitchen cupboard that Bob locked up.

How would you describe Cynthia's special talent?
Definitely very special!

Why does Cynthia have a huge following in Woop Woop as a dancer?
It’s scary. Cynthia isn’t that far removed from the boys – a total fish out of water. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must have been for her to walk into that town for the first time!
There is some magical direction of your pub dance scene - can you give some insight into the magic of illusion behind this scene?
It’s very simple – its all got to do with where the audience is looking. Great direction by Simon alright!

Lena CruzWhat have you enjoyed most about playing alongside Michael Caton ?
I get to swear at him in Filipino every night!

What have you loved the most about this musical production so far?
I love the fact that this show gives a lot of enjoyment to the audience – and I’m part of it. To see their smiling and laughing faces every time is so fulfilling.
Have you any memorable faux pas so far?
None publishable. Somebody should really translate what I’m saying one night though !!
What advice would you have for young actors today about stagecraft and the pursuit of their passion?
Follow your heart, no matter what; its great to be passionate about your career but don’t forget that it’s a part of your life, not your whole life.
When you go out for a boogie what do you love to dance to?
I love retro music – I’m such a dag!

For further information about PRISCILLA - THE MUSICAL click here»

Photo Credits:
Top Right - Lena Cruz as Cynthia & Pop Muzik Ensemble. Photo - Jeff Busby
Bottom Right - Lena Cruz. Photo - Gary Heery

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