Dorcas Leung makes her Broadway debut as Gigi Van Tranh, one of the The Engineer's girls and actually the titular character, in the epic musical Miss Saigon. The Hong Kong native who grew up in Texas sings the early showstopper "The Movie in My Mind", in which Gigi and the other girls imagine a life beyond the brothels of Vietnam. BroadwayBox caught up with Dorcas to talk about embodying this complex character, the smorgasbord backstage, and her long-lasting love for Wicked.
1. Who was your first call when you found out you’d be making your debut as Gigi in Miss Saigon?
My first call was to Mom! This debut is not only my dream, but more importantly my mom’s dream for me. Especially as a child of an immigrant, this is truly our “American Dream”.
2. What was your audition process like for the show?
If we go all the way back, my first audition from Saigon in 2013 before the West End production. It was one of my first professional auditions so it feels incredible and quite full-circle to be making my debut in the same production. Once the show was announced to be transferring to the Great White Way, I was in multiple times over a span of 8 months. Finally, this past July, I auditioned again for Gigi, had a work session, a DANCE work session (oh god), and now I’m in bikini on stage 8 times a week :)
3. What’s your pre-show for Saigon? How do you get where Gigi needs to be for "The Heat Is On"?
The first thing I have to do is walk 5 flights of stairs to my dressing room and that in itself is one of the best warm ups I could do. My loss of breath definitely shows that. But in all seriousness, after a vocal warm up in the dressing room, my favorite place to get ready is the Wig Room in Wardrobe Village. In there, cast members flow in and out so I get to spend time and goof off with them before the show.
One of the difficult parts of “The Heat is On” is the amount of vulnerability that the girls have to exhibit. I love visiting with everyone as part of my pre-show ritual because it’s so important to know that I have a cast that I can trust. Not only are we physically showcasing our bodies in little to no clothing, but we also are telling the story of desperation that these Vietnamese women had to sadly suffer through during the war. For me to perform to the best of my ability, I must trust my cast and the story that we are telling together.
4. What’s surprised you most about being part of the Saigon company on Broadway?
I am non-stop eating Asian food now.
5. Growing up in Texas, what musical cast recordings were you obsessed with?
While this is not exactly Texas related, I am a Wicked fan until I DIE. So many memories of myself while growing up, looking forlornly out the car window while singing both parts of “Defying Gravity”.
6. If you could “Movie in Mind” duet with any singer right now, who would you choose?
Sia!!!! She would kill it with her vocal gymnastics and what an incredible artist she is.
7. What movie do you love so much you know every single word?
Shaolin Soccer starring Stephen Chow. It’s a movie that you have to pause so you can get your full laughs in without missing more of the movie.
8. Three things you nerd out over that have nothing to do with performing:
Korean Skin Care Products
9. What the moment you knew you wanted to be an actress? Was there a particular film or performance that inspired you?
I can’t exactly pinpoint when I knew that I wanted to be an actress. I was constantly acting up and out (and in any other direction) so I believe it just naturally bled into a career.
As for performance, watching Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while I was emotional and full of hormones was one of the most life-changing performances I’ve seen. I’ve respected Jim Carrey for his comedy forever but then to see this entirely different side of performance was INSPIRING. I want to do that. I want to make everyone cry so hard they laugh……wait, I mean laugh so hard they cry. Well, either works.
10. What’s your go-to backstage hobby while Gigi isn’t onstage?
Eat. You can find me with the noodles.
Don't miss Dorcas Leung as Gigi in 'Miss Saigon' at the Broadway Theatre through January 14.