JOHN WILLIAMS | Ashley Macklin
From the age of five, Ashley believed he could be a super hero. But until he gets bitten by a spider or covered in radioactive goo, he has settled for using his creative powers in other areas. Ashley has several years experience in wrangling small children onto stage while simultaneously writing, directing and acting in his home town annual Scout ShowTime productions. Such titles include Licence to Chill where he played the lead as a secret agent. In A Maiden’s Tale he played an evil wizard set to bring about democracy, and in Murder Most Funny, he was a patient at a mental asylum. Apart from the theatre Ashley likes to write his own short stories and hope to sell something worthy as a book one day. He is also beginning his academic career by pursuing university study with the end goal of possibly being a psychologist.
Ashley is always up for an adventure, to date he has skydived, bungee jumped, white water rafted, zorbed and recently begun flight lessons, with plans of front abseiling and a sport called “flyboarding” planned for the very near future.
More recently Ashley enjoyed performances of Our Man in Beijing in country Victoria to raise money for bush fire victims and in Cultural Diversity Week, an initiative of the Victorian premier’s department. Ashley performs these shows not for the hope of fame or fortune, but for the simple love of it and he sees this tour of Malaysia as another adventure that will enhance his intercultural education and experience in performing with Asians.
DING MEI-LING | Siew Yong Koay
Siew Yong Koay is a relative newcomer to the stage, but this cheerful, vivacious chemistry graduate from Penang is no stranger to the rigours of theatrical production, having since exchanged formulas and beakers for spontaneous reactions in the spotlight. This multi-faceted talent has been a publicist, a production assistant, a make-up artist, a resident coffee connoisseur to her fellow actors and an understudy for the role of Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, in the Universiti Sains Malaysia School of the Arts’ Wayang Kulit inspired production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed in conjunction with the 2012 Georgetown Heritage Festival. She has since debuted as a stage actor proper, performing the spectral elements and demonic voices for the dramatic horror play Takut, Tak? by Rounded Note productions for the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. She currently works as a freelance drama teacher to young children, passing on the passion for stagecraft to the next generation. She feels very lucky to have landed the lead role in Our Man in Beijing.
IMMIGRATION OFFICER | Aparna Bhattacharjee
Aparna’s anchor role in the stage production of A Tribute to Motherhood and her part as a comedian in the Bengali Tele-film Gondogol brought her initial fame as an actor and singer. During her early days Aparna also acted in many multi-cultural stage plays produced by the Bengali Association of Victoria in Melbourne.
More recently, she took on major roles in stage productions under the direction of Wolf Heidecker and Graham Pitts. Her recent performances include Fusion Downunder, Marriage Counsellor and Our Man in Beijing at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne. Aparna is a trained psychologist and works for the Victorian government in Australia.
HUANG | David Lih
David Lih debut his acting career in 1992 and his Film & TV credits have since included the Cannes Film Festival nominated, Strange Fits of Passion (ABC, Arena, Film Victoria, 1999) and popular Australian dramas Neighbours (Grundy TV, 2011) and Offspring (Southern Star, 2011).
His stage credits include numerous lead roles in one of Australia’s permier independent theatres, La Mama’s productions of Beyond the Gates of Heavenly Peace and Zhang Da Li: The Village of Big Easters. An original cast member for Our Man in Beijing, David performed the role of Huang in its 2011 debut, produced by the Australasian Chinese Theatre Company; and later in a return season at the La Mama Theatre. He is very excited for the opportunity to bring Huang back to live on stage, touring in beautiful Malaysia.
A trained dancer at the Ministry of Dance in Melbourne, David has performed in many dance productions covering the hip-hop, contemporary and improvisation genre. He is currently represented by Phoenix Artist Management in Melbourne, Australia.
MUSICIAN | Ronald Phil Trainer
Philip (Felipe) Trainer cannot be put neatly in a professional box. Trained as a teacher in English as a second language (TESL) and Spanish, he is also a lyricist and singer/guitarist. Born in England, his paternal grandmother was a Romany gipsy and she bequeathed to him his wanderlust. Throughout his life, this wanderlust took him all over the UK, Europe and South America where he lived and worked for over 15 years in Montevideo, Uruguay. Phil or Felipe as he is better known in Latin America, is bi-lingual in English and Spanish, alternating between the white Anglo culture into which he was born, and the Latino culture, which he discovered. He moves in and out of these two cultures with his writings and his music.
BARTENDER & ROOM BOY | Terence Toh
Terence Toh writes articles by day and plays by night. A writer by trade, he has loved the performing arts since and forever. He was most recently seen in The Platform Presents: The Emperor. He is a frequent participant in the Short and Sweet Theatre and Musical festivals, and winning Best Lyricist at the 2012’s Short And Sweet Musical Festival for his musical Disorder In the Court, which also won Audience Choice Award.
MEI LING’S MOTHER | Joanna Van
Joanna has dabbled in many things including chemistry, copywriting, design, and of course, acting. Joanna holds a Diploma of Performing (Speech and Drama) from Trinity Guildhall and eight grades worth of music training from ABRSM and London College of Music. ??Still a relative newbie to local theatre, her credits include klpac’s Short+Sweet Festivals for Theatre and Musical as both a performer and writer. She was also involved in Imports, Takut Tak, Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, and is fresh off from a local production of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine. In between, Joanna can be found writing up drabbles of life through bits of fiction and short stories that you could possibly find in local bookstores.
MUSICIAN (UNDERSTUDY) | Johan Newman (aka Jack Poi)
John Newman originally from Canada, first came to Malaysia in 2006 to undergo emergency surgery to repair a badly broken foot due to a cave exploring accident in Thailand. While recovering in the home of a fellow Canada in KL, he came to the decision that it was time to take his life in a new direction and decided that as soon as he got home, he would find a way to move to and work in South-east Asia.
Being a teacher by profession, he set out to find teaching positions in the area. He landed a job teaching science and choir at an international school and almost a year to the date of making his decision, he was on a plane to start a new adventure in KL. He found a circle of friends that formed and reformed into various bands over the next few years playing opens mics and other shows. He fell into theatre quite unexpectedly 2009. While out with a friend, he was asked to join her on a visit to KLPAC because an old school mate of hers was directing a play for something called the Short and Sweet festival and was practising in one of the studios.
Watching the actors warm up and practice scenes, John thought about how much fun it looked like and tried to imagine himself being part of a theatre production. As it turned out, the script called for an on-stage musician who played guitar and harmonica and the guy they had for the role had quit that day. John was offered the role right there on the spot. That first play where he only had one spoken word (actually more of a grunt than a word) was enough for him to be hooked on the energy and creativity of the theatre. He continued to pursue his recently found love of theatre through writing, acting and directing. His most recent role was in the ensemble of the award winning musical Kiss of the Spider Woman.