Building Thailand’s First Musical Theatre: Takonkiet Viravan’s Story

Digital World

Popular Thai producer Takonkiet Viravan shares his experiences joining the industry and making it on his own.

 

Leaving Boston

Takonkiet Viravan initially planned to take up economic at Boston University, in an attempt to please his father, the former minister Amnuay Viravan. However, he only lasted for one semester and switched to what he really loved: theatre. Years later, he earned his master’s degree in theatre and communication.

 

His Own Theatre

In 2007, he opened his own grand theatre on the top floor of a popular mall in the city: the Esplanade Mall. Tourists staying at a hotel near Esplanade Mall can have easy access to his 1,500-seater theatre, right across from the Thailand Cultural Centre. He explains that the owner of the mall wanted something that would attract people to the mall, and with agreeable terms in leasing, his theatre found a home with regular program of musicals to offer. The owner of the mall seems to have gotten what she wanted as well— some tourists would specifically look for a hotel near Esplanade Mall just to easily go to the theatre, and both local and foreign tourists flock the property.

 

Humble Beginnings

It didn’t start easy for Takonkiet. When he came back to Thailand, he says that the theatre scene in the country was very young, and that surviving as a professional in the field was impossible. So at the beginning, he decided to enter the entertainment industry through the next big thing: TV entertainment.

 

As a director, he launched Nangfah Siroong. It won Best Creative Play for Society and well as Best Play for Youth. After the huge success, he opened his own TV production company called Exact Co. They produced a drama entitled Sam Num Sam Num. It was such a big hit that it successfully ran from 1991 to 1998. The show became a benchmark in Thai drama, combining Western culture with Thai storylines.

 

Entering the Musical Theatre

He experienced success throughout the years, but he wanted to achieve more. He wanted to start the country’s very first musical theatre, but investors were having none of it. This is when he sought to build it on his own at the top floor of the Esplanade Mall. Inspired by The Sound of Music, performances in the theatre included Broadway classics and modern Thai shows.