Interviews

Support S'pore singer Mina Kaye, get her to school

By Jo TanEvents - 23 July 2014 7:00 AM | Updated 24 July 2014

Support S'pore singer Mina Kaye, get her to school

As Singapore's rising theatre darling who has sung alongside Broadway greats and performed for Brunei royalty, no one was surprised when Mina Kaye, star of such rave-reviewed musicals as ‘Little Voice’, ‘Company’, ‘The Last Five Years’ and ‘A Singaporean in Paris’, was offered a place in the notoriously exclusive Boston Conservatory to study her Masters degree in musical theatre, with a partial scholarship thrown in. 

What did surprise some was her not getting the Singapore Government scholarship that would have allowed her to accept the school's offer. Spending two years studying at the school would have cost about S$200,000, including basic living expenses.

Most freelancers would have given up at the hundred-grand hurdle, but not Kaye, who is in her 20s.

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Being $100,000 short to taking up the Masters Degree of her Dreams didn't stop actress Mina Kaye, who decided to sing, act, and bake her way to the United States

“My friend Kristy Griffin suggested looking at crowdfunding, because that's what she was doing to put up a theatre production in Australia,” Kaye said, flashing her megawatt grin.

“At the time, I had no idea what crowdsourcing even was, but looking at some sites, it was pretty scary that many took a percentage of the funds you raised, and others had an all-or-nothing approach, as in, if you don't hit the target amount, you get nothing!” 

Then Derrick Chew, one of the founders of (ticketing agent)  Ticketmash, asked if she would consider using Ticketmash to do a fundraising show, with the option for people to pledge donations.

“So now, if you pledge a certain amount, you get tickets to ‘The Mina Kaye Show’,” she said.

HER SPECIALTY: CUPCAKES

It is not just thank-you tickets up for grabs. Different donations get you different perks: Everything from a membership at a beach club, to shout-outs, or even cupcakes specially baked by Mina herself, ranging in fabulous flavours including S'mores and Butterbeer.

“I've baked maybe thousands of cupcakes since starting this crowdsourcing thing,” she exclaimed. “I've always loved baking cupcakes for friends, who would tell me they wanted to buy them for their friends. I thought, maybe these are good enough to give as rewards to people who help my fundraising effort. Now, I think some people started pledging just to buy cupcakes!” Kaye said with a laugh.

Of course, if she could bake her way to Boston that would be fabulous, but she has had anonymous donors pledging as much as S$10,000 a pop after watching her as the title character in Pangdemonium's rave-reviewed ‘Little Voice’ in May as well. 

“The support I've been getting is just overwhelming. Tracie and Adrian (Pang, artistic directors of Pangdemonium) sponsored ‘Little Voice’tickets for people who pledged certain amounts to my fund. One incredible woman donated $1,000 for tickets, and after seeing it, pledged another $10,000. 

 

Mina Kaye in Pangdemonium's 'The Rise and Fall of Little Voice'. Photo: Pangdemonium

“Other people came to see the show and then gave $2,000, $5,000, even $10,000, lovely people I have not even met. One of them gave me their club membership to offer as a reward on my fundraising site.” 

And no wonder: playing the music-obsessed recluse in ‘Little Voice’, Kaye delivered flawless vocal impressions of eight divas from Judy Garland to to Teresa Teng, inspiring rave reviews and standing ovations from press and public alike, something which surprised her. 

“I sing a lot now, but before I joined LaSalle College of the Arts in 2009, I didn’t know how to sing. I was just a good copycat. Talking to my friends, I used to imitate Britney Spears, Spongebob Squarepants, Disney characters... After LaSalle, I learnt to sing but I still love doing impressions. So when I got the role of ‘Little Voice’, I thought, this is great!”

‘Little Voice’ won't be the highlight of her “copycat” career. For ‘The Mina Kaye Show’, the singer-actress will impersonate more than 15 divas. 

“I'll be singing as them, but doing voices too,” she said.

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Mina Kaye with Glory Ngim and Seong Hui Xuan in Dream Academy's 'Company'. Photo: Dream Academy

Of course, she will sing some songs just as good old Mina Kaye, a good enough reason for most to buy a ticket, what with her voice being described as “goosebump-inducing” to just “unbelievable”.

“I'll be doing some of my favourite showtunes and inviting friends to perform with me. I'll go through my Big Book of High Belt songs. It's going to be a very intimate cabaret, a night of drinks and entertainment.”

Of course, maybe the best reason to go to this show is to help this lovely Singapore-born talent follow her dream.

“I wanted to be an actress from age six, but I never knew if I could. And after two years of working consistently in Singapore, I thought, I can do this, what else can I do? I miss being in school, that drive, that training. I want to learn stuff that is more in-depth,  and I want to know, am I at that international standard? Could I be comparable to Broadway artistes one day?

“Honestly, being famous does not matter to me. I just want to keep working in theatre, keep getting better, and going to the Boston Conservatory would be perfect. Wonderful people have helped me raise so much, but I'm still not at the sum necessary to complete the programme. I'll find a job there, but while still here, I'm going to keep trying to raise enough.” 

The Mina Kaye Show | Date: 2 August 2014 | Time: 7pm | Venue: TAB, #02-29, Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road | Tickets: From $30 at www.ticketmash.sg/minakaye

The Mina Kaye Show

The Mina Kaye Show

Date Aug 02, 2014

VenueTAB

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