The breaks are falling the right way for talented local singer, songwriter and actor Denquar.
She is heading to London to record her first EP and take a starring role in Aladdin at London Richmond Theatre.
It’s part of a steady progression for the 25-year-old Pui O resident, who has been dividing her time between London and Hong Kong for the past three years.
She is just completing a season at the Island Shangrila and will take up a short engagement at the Grand Hyatt before heading back to London in November, where she’s booked in to play Princess Jasmine in Aladdin alongside British stalwart Christopher Biggins.
Early in the New Year, still in London, she will cut six or seven songs for the EP, including a couple in Mandarin, and release her first single. Among those backing her in the studio will be guitarist Robin Banerjee, who recorded and toured with Amy Winehouse.
Denquar, who grew up in Lantau and trained at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, has a growing following online. This video of her self-penned song, Lousy Signs, has racked up 127,000 views on Facebook in a month.
“It’s a love song about being a shy Hong Kong girl,” said Denquar.
She credits her Thai father as being her first musical inspiration. He ran a jazz bar in Phuket and played blues, rock’n’roll and reggae. He died when she was ten, leaving Denquar – real name Danielle Chupak – to be raised by her British-born mother in South Lantau.
She attended Pui O public school and YMCA College in Tung Chung, where career counsellors did their best to discourage her from music.
As it happened, just as she graduated the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was opening a musical theatre programme. She studied acting, singing and dancing intensively for a year and then at 18 landed a role as vocalist in a Disneyland stage show. After two years in the MOuse House, she took a turn singing jazz in the evening at the Grand Hyatt.
She then headed to London and passed an audition for the Royal Academy musical theatre course. But, unable to afford the hefty foreign student fees, she followed the time-honoured path, supporting herself as a waitress while honing her craft with other performers in the evenings.
She didn’t get a gig for 18 months – “it was too competitive” – but eventually found an agent who helped train her voice and performance, and the gigs started to come, both in London and Hong Kong.
She also started writing songs, like Lousy Signs.
But she relishes the comfort of her Lantau home and regularly performs here.
“Growing up here was amazing. I had so much freedom as a child. So many outdoor things – waterfalls, beaches.
“It’s nice to have access to all of this. It’s safe and familiar. If I am in trouble, I know someone.”
At a glance
Oct 15: The Water Buffalo, Pui O, 8pm
Oct 21: Hemingways, Discovery Bay, 9pm
Oct 26-Nov 25: Grand Hyatt 9pm-12:45am Monday-Saturday
Nov 4: The Big Picnic, Discovery Bay, 2:15pm
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/babyxdenx