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I am currently and have been on a break now for 3 weeks since The Centennial Hotel sold and closed for renovations. This down time has been rather dull and at the same time fruitful, as it has given time to prepare for the upcoming new chapter of my life.

The Centennial Hotel has closed for good on Feb 16, 2014 after serving, cooking and entertaining its guests for almost 20 years! I was both devastated and relieved. Devastated because it has formed a part of my life for almost 6 years and I’ve become comfortable with it. Relieved because if it has not closed, I probably would be there for the next 20 years!

The Centennial Hotel had become an icon in Woollahra for a long time. From the eccentric owners, to incessant demands of clients, to staffs with various quirks and character (who mostly bond over drinks, before/during and after service, with a lot of opera singing in between during birthdays… too many birthday songs), to clients dealing at the bar and using in the toilets, to 50 something women perched up at the bar, dressed 2 sizes smaller and young for their age. For almost 6 years it has been a source of inspiration, disappointments, friendships that would last a lifetime, a drinking habit that would be hard to break, now over. It was an institution at Woollahra for 20 years for its food, warmth of Cos and Toni towards their regulars and utter contempt with each other. The hilarious “show” they put on during service (Channel 7 could have done a reality show on The Centennial with Cos and Toni screaming and bickering across the floor during service) was a daily source of entertainment for both staff and clientele.

The last four days were the busiest it had been for a while with everyone coming out of the wood work for their last lamb pizza, waffles and beef fillet, but it was not over “until the fat lady sings”… well in this case the singing barman Marcus. Cos and Toni assured everyone they will be back with the old menu we love, somewhere in the not so distant future. We will wait for those waffles and lamb pizza.

in my dressing room
in my dressing room

In a couple of days I will be back doing my first love, which is music and theatre. For the last few years I have been in and out of the theatre scene here in Australia and Asia. I have been fortunate to still work in this industry considering how small it is here in Australia and being an actor/singer of Asian background, part of the minority. Still I feel blessed.

Come Monday, The King & I crew and casts meet for the first time and embark on a strenuous task of putting together a Broadway musical for 5 weeks before hitting the road touring for 10 months.

It will be an exciting day of presentations from the creative team, from set, lighting as well as costume designers. A day when I meet all my colleagues, dance partners, acting partners. It will be a start of a new friendship or friendships, and for some their love stories. It’s the first time when you hear the script read, music played and sang and choreography learned and danced.

Ten months on the road will be a time of focus, self-discipline, reading, learning, keeping fit, gym sessions, dance classes, singing lessons, repertoire learning and tasting the most amazing food and wine! It’s time to start a new list of favorite restaurants and bars along the way. It will be indeed a busy 2014 for me, but to breathe, eat and live this show for the next 10 months will be amazing.

There has never been a better time to see musical theater in the East Coast with a lot of the big productions coming to our shores like Les Miserables, Grease, The Lion King and new productions of Strictly Ballroom and the theater company Hayes with Sweet Charity.

Hurry and buy your ticket!

The full company. "The king and I", The Production Company 2010
The full company. “The king and I”, The Production Company 2010


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