SINGAPORE - For local theatre actor Dwayne Tan, getting into the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company (MDC) during his national service helped shape his acting career.
The 36-year-old, who performed in the choir at MDC, said: "Joining MDC was one of the foundations in my early performing career. It was a good platform for me to learn and make mistakes, and learn to be a professional."
Tan, who plays the lead role of mummy's boy Malcolm in the musical Army Daze, which returns to the stage next Friday , felt that one of the highlights of his time in MDC was being able to travel to Rockhampton, Australia, to perform.
"We did several performances in different places during that 1½-week trip and many people cheered us on. After we performed, there were fireworks and it was magical," he said,
"That was when I realised I loved performing and I wanted to continue doing this after army."
He added: "It was also the first time I ate crocodile and kangaroo meat, and that was a unique experience as well."
The actor studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York after completing his national service.
When he returned to Singapore in 2008, Tan went back to MDC to teach a musical theatre course from 2009 to 2010.
He said: "It was my way of giving back and imparting more knowledge to the recruits, as I had learnt so much there. For me, it wasn't just about teaching, it was also an emotional and fulfilling experience."
He added: "I feel like I have completed one full cycle."
Being in Army Daze brought back memories of Tan's time in NS.
"During my basic military training days, whenever I booked out and I saw a grass patch outside, my natural instinct was to want to jump into crawling position, lie there and not move. I was always in my 'army mode'," he said.
"But going to the army has made me appreciate my parents more, and become more mature. It's a good thing."