Interview: Jay Laga'aia discusses Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Co-written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, Peter Pan Goes Wrong sees Mischief Theatre bring physical goofs and slapstick jokes to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Nominated for an Olivier Award in 2016 for Best New Comedy, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is sure to provide you with a fun-filled night of laughter and comedy.
It was an absolute honour to interview Jay Laga’aia – a familiar face on Australian TV as well as numerous musicals, including The Lion King. Laga’aia performs as Francis in Peter Pan Goes Wrong. We discussed his thoughts on Peter Pan Goes Wrong, his previous work and what’s to come in the future.
IN: What’s the best part about being in Peter Pan Goes Wrong?
The best part for me is hearing men laughing out loud in the audience. It reminds me of my father laughing at the silly things my brothers and sisters used to do growing up.
IN: Without giving too much away, who’s your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is Tootles, one of the lost boys. The person playing the character is a girl called Lucy, (Teagan Wouters). She overcomes her crippling stage fright to save the day. The audience are right there with her encouraging her along the way.
IN: I hear you’ve been in several big musicals – do you have a favourite?
I recently performed in Shrek the Musical and fell in love with the character and the musical. It was a great discovery to find out that even Shrek judged Fiona by her appearance. The songs reminded me of Evan Hansen, the Musical because they were simple and asked everyday questions about life, love and loss. The finale was fantastic and such a celebration.
IN: One performance that caught my eye was ‘Mufasa’ in The Lion King, what was that like?
Disney’s The Lion King is a beast unto itself. With a cast of over 65, it is a phenomenon and such a joy to be a part of. Every night audiences took the journey with us to the pride rock and Julie Taymor’s visual canvas is stunning. The music is haunting and the staging is breathtaking.
IN: How did you start singing and performing?
I started singing in church and everyone played every instrument under the sun. There is the running joke that if you are a Kiwi, you must know how to play at least four different instruments and harmonise! Singing was my ticket out of South Auckland and it has been my bread and butter ever since.
IN: Do you prefer acting on television or performing on stage? What do you enjoy about both?
I love it all. The discipline of 8 shows a week in theatre. The technique involved in working in film and the vulnerability of doing fast turn around TV. I love live performances because you have an immediate response and you can cater your show accordingly.
IN: Any other plans for the near future?
I have an opera, a movie, I am teaching at Excelsia College in Sydney and I have a book to finish. So at least my wife will be pleased that I have work to get on with.