Zhang Yao Dong: From actor to singing Disney prince

It will literally be ‘A Whole New World’ for him

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Self-proclaimed “bathroom singer” Zhang Yao Dong has come a long way from his bathroom singing days.

The 39-year-old, who once wanted to be a singer when he was younger, held a small music showcase in Malaysia late last year, where he first showed off his singing chops to the public.

Fast forward to half a year later, and the actor is all set to perform in his very first concert – backed by a full orchestra, no less.

The ‘Make Your Own Magic - Disney Princess Live in Concert’ concert, which will also feature theatre singers Natalie Love and Robert Vicencio, will be held in Taichung on April 7 and Taipei on April 9.

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Over a long-distance phone call from Malaysia, Yao Dong shared in his interview with Toggle that he was reluctant to take part at first, as he was worried that he wouldn’t be up to the task.

“I got to know the producer of the concert whilst I was in Shanghai,” said Yao Dong. The producer was originally looking for a violinist, so he pointed him in the direction of the violinist that had performed with him during his showcase in Malaysia last year.

“When the violinist was showing the producer videos of his performances, he showed a clip from my showcase as well,” the actor let on. “The producer was so surprised to know that I could sing as well! He later went to my Facebook page and watched all the videos from my showcase, and invited me to sing for the concert.”

It turned out that he wanted an Asian singer to round up the list of performers, and Yao Dong’s “princely looks and singing chops” were exactly what he was looking for.

Although the invitation was extended to Yao Dong in late 2016, the actor deliberated on it for a couple of months before finally agreeing last month.

“My friends encouraged me to take part, as it was a rare opportunity,” he said, sharing that he was both honoured and stressed by the invitation.

While he admitted that he was relatively confident in his singing skills, he feels that he “still has much to learn” from the professional singers, rating himself a “70 or 80” out of 100 when it comes to singing.

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Yao Dong, who will be performing three songs, ‘Wish Upon a Star’ from Pinocchio, ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin and the titular song from Beauty And The Beast in English, let on that he was most worried about the last song, which he may have to sing in Mandarin as well.

“Beauty And The Beast is harder to sing, with its high notes. I have to make sure that both my high and low notes are stable. [I’m also worried about] harmonising with the female singer,” he explained.

To make matters worse, the actor is currently suffering from a cough and cold, and has a raspy voice. He plans to rest as much as possible before flying over to Taiwan next Tuesday for rehearsals.

“I wanted to find a vocal coach to improve my singing, but I’ve been busy lately,” he sighed.” I may meet with [Singaporean singer] Roy Li over the weekend to ask for tips, although I haven’t contacted him yet!”

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