For his stage debut, Kieran Lai had been in the cast of & Juliet in Manchester and transferred with the show to the Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End and he will be returning to the musical when theatres can reopen having been closed for the past year due to the pandemic. Throughout his dance career so far, Kieran has auditioned for The Greatest Dancer, was a finalist for BBC Young Dancer, reached the Semi-Finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2014 and regularly dances with Flawless. On screen, Kieran played Kurt in the feature film All Stars and during the pandemic, he has been keeping busy working on a number of commercials as well as filming and uploading videos to his TikTok account. We talked to Kieran about being in the cast of & Juliet, his career so far as a dancer and making videos for TikTok.
What is it like being in the cast of & Juliet and how was it performing in the show before theatres closed?
Joining the & Juliet cast was a totally new experience for me as I had only been exposed to the world of dance battles and commercial jobs. Theatre was something unknown to me and I’ve actually learnt so much from the whole experience i.e. acting and singing on stage.
It was surreal to hear that theatres were closing and I was hoping to be back in September 2020. Our new opening date is September 2021 and I’m itching to get back on stage!
Was there anything that drew you to the production and how did it feel finding out you’d booked your stage/West End debut with the show?
Again, theatre productions was something very new to me and I didn’t know the scale of the whole production till I reached Manchester when I saw the whole set with my own eyes. I had a good feeling the production was going to be epic but I never expected it to be so life changing for me!
The debut we did in Manchester was incredibly emotional for all of us and I will treasure that moment for the rest of my life.
Do you have any stand-out favourite moments from your time in the musical so far?
My time in Manchester with the cast was probably my stand-out favourite moment because the show would change and mold as we perfected the story and production. The show felt fresh and new to our bodies! The cast really bonded over that time period and created some really nice memories.
What are you looking forward to most for when theatres and shows can reopen?
I’m looking forward to catching up with friends who have come watched the & Juliet show. My girlfriend still hasn’t seen it!
How did you find the experience auditioning for The Greatest Dancer?
It was probably my favourite TV appearance because I had grown into the dancer and artist that I had envisioned for myself. I felt confident in my craft and had experience of dealing with TV at that point.
Can you tell us about your time on BBC Young Dancer and what was it like performing in the final?
I was pretty nervous doing that show because I felt like I was against some really tough competition despite it being a competition for young dancers. It was great performing on the Sadler’s Wells stage as I had seen so many other world famous dancers perform on that floor too!
In 2014, you reached the Semi-Finals of Britain’s Got Talent, what was this show like to be part of?
Doing a show like Britain’s Got Talent was incredibly overwhelming at the time. I never had that much exposure before and could feel like a massive shift was happening in my career.
However, it was incredibly difficult balancing my A-Level exams and the live shows. I treated BGT like a stepping stone to the next part of my career!
How did you find the experience of filming All Stars as Kurt and what did you enjoy most about playing the character and being part of the cast?
Prior to this, I had no proper acting experience and found it incredibly fun to do. I would have my dad be my chaperone at production and he would go over the lines with me before we filmed.
It was interesting playing a character like Kurt because he was cool and quite confident. He had a bit of an edge to him and I was able to embody that through my movement too.
What was it like attending the film premiere and seeing the film for the first time?
Another surreal experience and I felt nervous watching back my performance on the big screen. I had my mentor, my dad and a few friends come watch the premiere who all enjoyed the movie.
It was when my dance school and crew mates who came to watch it with me in my local town that felt the most rewarding!
How is it dancing with Flawless?
Dancing with Flawless has always been a joy for me! I remember watching them on BGT and never thought I would be in the same room as them let alone be dancing with them.
What encouraged you to start your TikTok account and what’s it like seeing the viewers’ response to your videos?
I was watching a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk videos saying how all artists need to get on TikTok. I started making videos in November 2019 but things really hit off from the first lockdown in March 2020.
I never expected millions of views would come from doing wholesome videos with my dad and friends. My dad loves seeing the comments and actually encourages me to make more content with him when he sees a new trend.
What do you enjoy most about making videos for TikTok?
I have days where I will be outside for the whole day chilling and making videos for TikTok. It’s the laughs and memories that we make during the day that then go into the videos.
When you’ve had a good day, people can feel it through your videos too!
Where does your love of dance come from and how did you start?
I grew a love for dance from watching YouTube videos in 2009 and I would try to replicate all of the cool steps. I still love watching dance videos on TikTok or Instagram!
What do you enjoy doing away from dance and your career?
I love watching movies, going to the gym and having discussions of who the most powerful character is in Marvel Universe.
Can you tell us about any dance/theatre-related projects you’ve been involved with during COVID?
I’ve been very fortunate with work and I have actually done many adverts and commercial productions during COVID. I managed to do an advert for TikTok, Lynx and another brand that I cannot name at the moment.
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