‘Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.’
– Carmen Pretorius

Off-Stage Banter with Carmen Pretorius and Nicholas Maude from The Sound of Music

More often than not, the characters in movies and musicals skilfully portrayed by actors and actresses are so convincing that I remember their roles instead of who they really are. When Now You See Me 2 first came out in theatres, I was happily snacking on my popcorn when Daniel Radcliffe appeared on-screen. I excitedly blurted out “Harry Potter!” (I had forgotten his real name then, oops) and was promptly shushed by other movie-goers.

When the invitation to personally interact with The Sound of Music’s Maria Rainer and Captain Von Trapp popped up on Whatsapp, my response was naturally peppered with exclamation marks (!!!!!!). Off I went the next day to The MasterCard Theatres for a coveted sneak peek of the musical and an once-in-a-lifetime interview opportunity with Carmen Pretorius and Nicholas Maude.

Carmen, you have climbed the mountain in the shoes of both Liesl von Trapp and Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music! Which character do you identify more with?

C: Definitely Maria! She is a little bit older than Liesl and I am closer to her in age. With her wonderful relationship with nature, spirituality, and kind disposition, she has grown to become a great inspiration and role model to me. Not only is she organised and good at making decisions, Maria has an unconventional way about her in reintroducing the von Trapp family to music. What’s not to like about her?

You are only in your twenties, and yet you are very good and experienced in what you do on stage! What was your journey like in the entertainment industry?

C: Singing, dancing, and acting have always been my passion ever since I was a wee little 8-year old! My big professional break — I had travelled to Singapore, Los Angeles and Japan in my teens— came in 2008 when I was in my final year at high school, I won a TV show for theatre, much like what Connie Fisher did [in the British BBC One talent contest] to land her role in The Sound of Music. I won a TV show back home to snag the role of Gabriella Montez in High School Musical which was a big hit, and thereafter I went on to play Ariel Moore in Footloose.

We are stoked to learn that Carmen has a styling and makeup business! How is CarmenCollectd coming along? 

N: I thought CarmenCollected is a very clever name, but I just didn’t want to tell Carmen.

C: [laughs] Yes, we have a love-hate relationship. CarmenCollectd is a small endeavour of mine, and I hesitate to call it a business! It is getting on well and does bring in side income when I’m not performing though—thankfully it is a hobby that can be capitalised on.

Do you have an inspirational quote which kept you going even when the going was tough?

N: I don’t have one, but my wife has one which I think is very good: “Hold on tightly, let go lightly.” So when you’re in the midst of something and it’s going on well, hold onto it. But one day if it passes, let go of it lightly and move on to the next adventure in life.

C:Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.

Parents in Singapore place an extremely high emphasis on academic studies and may frown on their child’s overzealous pursuit of interests of the arts. I’m sure it would be encouraging for our readers to hear how you persevered to succeed today!

N: [laughs] You wouldn’t believe it, but I was going to go to university to become a vicar! It was initially my choice to study theology but I ended up in drama school. Both are performances in a way— the actor on stage presenting to an audience; the vicar in church preaching to the congregation. I have since developed other interests as well. A word of advice: Even with connections, you may not necessarily get work; that is how tough things can get. Be prepared that it’s going to be a struggle—90% of people passionate about acting are mostly out of work and it’s the same 10% who secure engagements in productions—and have another interest to fall back on.

C: Yes, this is also the reason why I have CarmenCollectd and am working towards my BBA! In this day and age, it is very easy to study part-time to expand your skill sets. If this is what you want, do seize every training opportunity by going on stage to pursue a career in theatre.

How was the kiss on stage between Captain von Trapp and Maria Rainer?

N: Honestly? It was annoying because someone’s phone went off at that point! It ruined the moment for me. [laughs]

C: We also heard faint crying from a baby throughout last night’s show—at least we looked like we were enjoying it [the kiss] judging by the audience’s massive reaction!

N: No, I think it was just someone who went “OH” really loudly.

Witness the adorable chemistry between Carmen Prectorius (Maria Rainer) and Nicholas Maude (Captain von Trapp) on The Sound of Music stage from now until 3 December 2017 here!

Photos courtesy of Aik Soon