LASALLE Convocation 2018: Musical Theatre starlet set to take on directing role in Australia, first cohort of Creative Writing graduates

Not many performing arts students can boast an invitation to join an international touring production even before graduation, but LASALLE College of the Arts fresh BA(Hons) Musical Theatre graduate Michelle Ler has done just that.

Having discovered her passion for performance from a young age, it was while pursuing her BA(Hons) Musical Theatre at LASALLE that Michelle’s talent both off and on stage was given ample opportunity to flourish. Her versatility and musical acumen caught the attention of a visiting guest Artist in Residence, who handpicked her to become assistant to the Musical Director on the 1,000 performer-strong Australian tour of Grease – The Arena Experience from January 2019. Today, Michelle graduated top of her cohort as the winner of the McNally Award for Excellence in the Arts, LASALLE’s highest honour.

Guest of Honour Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, presented Michelle with the award at LASALLE’s 32nd Convocation this afternoon, where 834 graduates received their Diplomas, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master’s degrees in a ceremony at Singapore Expo Hall 3.

LASALLE also celebrated its first cohort of LASALLE MA Creative Writing graduates at this year’s Convocation. Launched in 2016, the programme is Singapore and Southeast Asia’s first taught Master’s in Creative Writing. It already counts several success stories among its pioneer batch, such as Saleem Hadi, winner of the prestigious Golden Point Award 2017 in the English Short Story category, and Olivier Castaignède, who published his debut novel Radikal last year.

“LASALLE has truly provided me with a great space, friends, facilitators, lecturers, supervisors and an awesome learning environment. It hit me with numerous challenges and at the same time made me discover many new things about myself in my search for answers. One of the best decisions of my life is to have enrolled into LASALLE for my Masters,” said Saleem. The award-winning filmmaker is currently working on three short films and one full-length feature film based on his thesis screenplay and plans to use his Golden Point Award grant for a research trip to Europe.

“Convocation is one of our proudest occasions of the year. This year I’m especially delighted that we are seeing the fruits of our cross-disciplinary approach in graduates such as Michelle, who has parlayed her performance experience into musical direction. Saleem is also making full use of his training in creative writing and the collaborative opportunities with our Acting and Film programmes at LASALLE to further his filmmaking career,” said Professor Steve Dixon, President, LASALLE College of the Arts.

Among her numerous credits, Michelle was invited by Director, Darren Yap to play first keyboards and assist the Musical Director on The Great Wall: One Woman’s Journey when she was only in her second year at LASALLE. She also performed in Best of British: The West End Premier at the London Palladium in 2017. She is currently working on original material for an upcoming Cabaret Festival in 2018/19.

“There are very few Musical Directors in Singapore, and Michelle is already in huge demand for this role. We are proud that LASALLE has helped her develop not only as a performer but also as a well-rounded theatre professional. She has open invitations from guest Artists in Residence to New York and London to further her training and will definitely be a leading light of Singapore’s theatre scene in future,” said Professor Michael Earley, Dean, Faculty of Performing Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts.

LASALLE’s McNally Award winning alumni include film director Boo Junfeng, whose creative direction on the National Day Parade 2018 was widely acclaimed, and more recently, soul singer Nick Zavior, who since graduating in 2016 has performed alongside the likes of Brian McKnight and Chaka Khan in SingJazz 2017. In May 2018, he was featured as a special guest singer at the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s concert at the Singapore International Festival of the Arts.

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