The beautiful story, directed by Glen Keane, features lavish and often moving songs by Chris Curtis, Majori Duffield and Helen Park, as well as a luminescent score by Oscar winner Stephen Price.
For Su, an American from China, Chang’s story was known – to some extent. “We have never seen such a Chang’e before. “We know what happens until it reaches the moon, but we don’t really know what happens next,” she said. “With this version, there are elements of science fiction, elements of myth, elements of Chinese culture, and it all ends with this wonderful version of how we see it now.”
Su speaks with billboard about what stars associated with the Earth inspired her performance, how Hamilton creator Lynn-Manuel Miranda also helped her prepare for the significance of a film starring an all-Asian cast.
Our first observation of Chang’e is when she performs this delicious pop song “Ultraluminary” before her lunar servants. Who were you looking for inspiration from?
The song was really the first thing I heard about what to expect from this character. The feeling you get when you see Chang’e for the first time is amazing. I would call it the best concert of all time. Her introduction is so fantastic. I definitely drew inspiration from all the great female wild queens out there: Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga – all these amazing artists who found their own voice and personality in terms of their work and their performance. .
You’re also having fun with “Hey, Boy.” It’s all an exciting and fun combination of singing and a spoken word.
This song outlines the lines of the competition. This is the first time we really see that they will not be confused with her, but she also has a lot to lose. She waited a really long time to reunite with her husband Houyi. It hides any internal vulnerabilities that may exist. She compensates for this, especially in such a song.
[[[[Small spoilers are coming]Your character goes through such a journey. You realize very early on that she and Faye Faye are grieving. In many ways, the film is a meditation on grief.
What’s so beautiful about a character like Faye Faye is that she does it all out of love for her mother and family. This is not just about her personal path. What’s so beautiful about her relationship with Chang is that you have two really strong-willed female characters who have an idea of what they need to move forward in their lives and feel secure on their feet. … Then they realize that they are actually much more similar than they thought. Not only that, they need each other to heal. There is a message in turning to someone you may disagree with, someone you may not know, to find healing. This love and community can come in some very surprising places.
Totally switching themes, Chang’e’s wardrobe is amazing and very fashionable. How did that help you get into the character?
They are great! They were designed by a very famous Chinese fashion designer, Guo Pei. From the moment I started seeing these sketches, I was like, “Oh, I see who this man is.” That was the easy part. I didn’t have to look far for inspiration, because everything was there in the drawings and music and everything I saw that they brought.
Did you get dressed to enter the studio to record your part?
No. I would wear sports pants because the benefit of participating in an animated film is that you don’t have to get dressed to go to work. This story actually required a lot of movement on my part. Once I really got into the character, we really did jiving. I really felt like I had to move my body to achieve some of the vocal things I did because it’s so elevated and theatrical in a way.
What was your period of work on this?
I was in the studio for the first time, maybe around 2017, 2018. I literally finished it in my closet, surrounded by my winter coats and shoes, during the pandemic. This was the last part of the ADR (automatic dialog replacement). It was very humiliating and at the same time made me realize, “Wow, this really comes with a full circle,” because when I was a kid, all I had to do was hang out in my closet and cast voices and play with my stuffed animals.
On cloud nine has an all-Asian and Asian-American cast. What did this mean for you, and is there a bigger message here at a time when Hollywood needs more diversity?
It just shows you that this is what people want to see. Crazy rich Asians it was phenomenal in so many ways because it really not only gave people like me and millions of others a reason to feel noticed and recognized, but also to feel that there was a desire for it. There is a way to make money from this. It is not easy to go out on a limb to tell a diverse story. The variety of stories is actually what people want to see. Not only that, this is what we need to see. Art can be fun, but I think there’s more. We have a duty to tell stories that reflect who we are as a community, as a people, as a population.
Previously, your only animated experience was as a peasant in Moana. Did this help you prepare On cloud nine?
I was so grateful to Lynn for asking me to do some demos Moana when they were developing it. I learned so much about the process that it was necessary to create an animated film. The animation itself is just an engineering feat. One of the coolest days was when I had to see some of the music he was recording Moana, and I watched the orchestra play. It really just made me realize that a bunch of people who are really good at what they do come together to tell this story and they couldn’t do it without each other. It’s a group, a collaborative effort, and it got me excited to explore this more. When On cloud nine came, I was like, yes, absolutely. It’s like my childhood dream to do something like this.
Broadway is now closed until the end of May. How do you deal with this?
Honestly, the most important thing is to make sure that we are all safe and that when we get back together, we have the feeling that we are being cared for healthily. For me, I just feel like I have to fix it if I miss it. It’s like everything: You don’t realize how good it is until it disappears. I always knew how good it was and what a great job I had and all the great opportunities I had. But I don’t think I really understood how important it can be to be able to connect people together.
There’s something we lose when we lose a live performance, namely the ability to just get together in a room with a bunch of strangers and experience together and go on a trip together.
There are currently many theaters struggling. I know there are so many causes right now where you can donate your money, time and effort, but there are also many theaters that can close, so we need the support of the community. The more people can defend their senators, their politicians, fight for the arts for financial aid, that’s really important.
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