The Fame Reporter interviewed West Side Story Musical’s Temujin Tera. Temujin embodies the exciting Bernardo in the newest Australian production of the infamous star-crossed lovers musical. West Side Story will play at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre from 24 July – 22 August.
The epic production that has sold out theatres around the world including London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo & Sydney Opera House, the smash hit production of West Side Story lands at QPAC.
An undisputed and timeless masterpiece, West Side Story features an unforgettable score and songs that have been adored for generations, including “Maria”, “Tonight”, “Somewhere”, “America” and “I Feel Pretty”. This iconic dance musical remains one of the most poignant stage works of the 20th century.
We talked to Temujin about his character Bernardo, the most challenging part of the show, his favourite scenes choreography wise and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Temujin hat drew you to be involved in West Side Story the Musical and what is unique about this production in particular?
I love this iconic musical and my wife was also in the Australian West Side Story production years ago. When I heard it was coming back, I needed to be a part of the return.
Unlike how her version and most West Side Story productions are done by a full cast of adults, our production is a cast where the Jets and Sharks playing age are young angsty teenagers.
What do you love about your character Bernardo and what is your favourite moment in the show?
I love the depth behind Bernardo, the defeat in coming to a country where it’s supposedly a land of possibilities, gets shut down due to racism. While the anger and hurt behind his character is large; he is also a leader, so all of that pain has to be honed and in control of. Bernardo is a character that simply cannot contain the calm.
[In saying that,] my favourite moment in the show is ‘The Rumble’ where that anger from both sides (Jets and Sharks) comes at full release of 110%, a whole lot of energy and testosterone.
What is your favourite scene or number in the show choreography-wise?
I love ‘Cool’ performed by the Jets, the choreography and music is so intricate and the cast nail it every single time. They go above and beyond with their intensity and commitment. I love picking a new Jet to watch every time they perform and watching them pour their hearts out.
What is the most rewarding and challenging part of this show?
Absolutely ‘Dance at the Gym’!
This is the “dance off” between all Jets and Sharks, where it starts off with high energy and doesn’t stop! Where everyone is yelling at the other side and cheering for each other, over the top of each other and filling the entire stage up with enormous energy. Every time we come running off after the number I need to have a solid breather to make sure I’m not about to die!
But every time we come running off desperate to catch our breath, there is no greater reward than patting each other on the back and coming off knowing we all went for it and didn’t hold back.
Angelina (Anita) and I also get our own personal dance circle where the Sharks cheer us on which I also love.
What did you love about performing overseas especially at ‘Universal Studios’ in Singapore and how does it differ from performing in a regular stage show?
I loved the adventure of being away from home, making a whole bunch of new friends from all over the world and being paid to do what I love to do most. The stage was based outside in the Singaporean humidity amongst the crowd but felt nice and intimate.
The show [at Universal Studios Singapore] was interactive by talking and dancing with the audience which kept you on your feet unlike a stage show which is kept to the script (and also inside a theatre).
What is one of your proudest achievements and what are some of your future dreams?
One of my proudest achievements is that moment where I decided to commit to performing arts and give it my everything to make this dream career a reality. What I’m proud of the most is finding love with my wife. My future dream is to continue to learn and grow along the way and to do more amazing shows, film work and then conclude by coming home to my wife at the end of the day.
Why should audiences come along and see this production of West Side Story the Musical?
Our amazing direction and choreography by Joey McKneely and Brendan Yeates, they give a great insight of depth to every character on that stage with every dance step following an intention behind it.
This youthful cast pour their blood sweat in tears on the stage every day and push to go further and stretch their limits.
Fame Reporter Word Play
West Side Story
Live in Japan
Favourite style of dance
Favourite mantra when you are down
Everything happens for a reason!
Next to normal
Dressing Room necessity
A couch to rest on in-between shows!
Go-to dance move
Dirty ol’ fist pump
Can’t live without
Place you want to travel to
TV Show Binge
So many! Right now, it’s ‘Morning Wars’
Finally, favourite thing about performing
Getting to play a character and doing it in front of thousands of people.
Thank-you Temujin for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for West Side Story tour around Australia!
West Side Story @ QPAC
24 July – 22 August 2021
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All photos – Supplied