"My model was AJ" - An Interview with Mike Tran


I suppose it's late enough in the run to talk about the character of the Fake Nightingale. I wanted the Fake Nightingale to be at the opposite end of the musical spectrum from the real Nightingale. While her music is live and purely instrumental. The Fake Nightingale's music, however, is pre-recorded and takes its cue from mass-produced pop. His appearance in the story is one of the surprises I'm most fond of, and Mike Tran's performance has delighted the audience each time I've seen the show. You might be interested to know that Mike is very different from his flashy and superficial mechanical alter-ego. He's grounded and humble and works hard to get his character just right. (Oh, but the dance moves he exhibits are his own.) Read more from Mike Tran below.


MIN: How did you start performing in theater?

MIKE: I've been doing theater since sophomore year of high school. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I loved it. My confidence boosted, I was making new friends, it was euphoric to be up on stage. I've mostly done school productions, after high school, continuing into college. Just recently, I have gotten out of that comfort zone and started doing community theater. This is my second time doing community theater, the first time being in Little Women with the San Leandro Players. I also play the drums in a alternative pop rock band called Six Steps North, and have performed a number of shows with them as well.

MIN: What is your day job?

MIKE: I am a repair technician and salesman at Central computers in Newark. I spend most of my time repairing computers, and I am also somewhat of the handyman there as well. I change out light bulbs, replace electronic equipment, etc.

MIN: It continues to astound me how everyone in the cast has a different line of work or non-theatre talent/ability! I've been asking everyone else this same question: what has working on The Song of the Nightingale been like for you?

MIKE: Working on The Song of the Nightingale has been a wonderful experience. This is my second time working on a world premiere, and it is exhilarating. Theater is always creating, but when you work on a world premiere, it truly is something special to create something brand new. You have no reference to go off of other than the playwright's words. This makes the creation truly original. This makes the piece of work very much our own.

MIN: What has it been like playing the character of the Fake Nightingale? What was the most challenging part? What has been the most rewarding part of playing the role?

The Fake Nightingale (Mike Tran) sizes up his competition (Deedra Wong).

The Fake Nightingale (Mike Tran) sizes up his competition (Deedra Wong).

MIKE: Playing the Fake Nightingale has been a blast. The persona is ridiculous and so much fun to put on. The most challenging part was finding that persona. The Fake Nightingale is very up in your face and exuberant; I'm very laid back. Finding this persona and transitioning into it were pretty difficult. As an actor, I've faced such challenges before, and I have found that finding a model for the character is helpful. My model was AJ from the Backstreet Boys. Having that model in mind helped me find all of the idiosyncrasies that the Fake Nightingale needed. The most rewarding part of playing this role is the audience's reactions. Hearing their laughs and gasps is what fuels my drive.

MIN: Anything else you'd like to share?

MIKE: I am so happy to be part of such a talented team. Everyone, cast, crew and design team, worked hard to create this show, and I am proud to be a part of something bigger. The professionalism and work ethic in this group is phenomenal, and I appreciate that. 

Posted on November 20, 2013 and filed under Creative, Musical Theater, Nightingale, Performing Arts.