In the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I,” governess Anna Leonowens, originally played on Broadway by actress Gertrude Lawrence, sang “I Whistle a Happy Tune” to her son to convince him not to be afraid when they arrive in Siam to serve the king. For Dutch performer Geert Chatrou, his penchant for whistling had nothing to do with eradicating fear, but rather emulating his father. “As a young boy, I remember my dad whistling around the house — mostly to classical music,” Chatrou, 54, said in a recent phone call from Frisco, Texas, where he was preparing for a nearly weeklong run of Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo.” “So, starting at the age of 4, I would whistle, too, since I looked at it as part of the communication in our home.” He became so skilled at the oratory craft that he won three world championship whistling titles in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Now, the Mierlo, Holland, native is sharing his whistling prowess with audiences around the world as Monsieur Loyal, the ringmaster of “Corteo,” which is coming to Boston’s Agganis Arena June 8-11. “This show is for all ages and it has a lot of soul. It’s about the dream of the death of a clown who will experience his life again. You see him as a little boy, you see him as an older man, and you see the love for the theater, for the circus, for the show … and that’s very heartful,” he said. “There are also a lot of laughs and amazing acts.” We caught up with Chatrou — who has three adult children and one granddaughter and lives with his wife, Tea Van Biere, a lifestyle coach and psychiatric nurse, and their rescue dog, Mazel, in Mierlo — to talk about all things travel.
If you could travel anywhere right now, and money was no object, where would you go? I’d go to Australia and New Zealand. My wife has relatives there — her mom was a Kiwi — and we really want to meet them.
Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted? The first foreign country was Croatia, where we were for eight weeks to relaunch our beautiful show. Actually, it was Belgium when I think about it, but that’s around the corner from where I live. I visited my daughter who lives there.
Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own? On my own. Nowadays, it’s so easy to find any information online, so for me it doesn’t make sense to go to an office and speak to someone who will do the same research I can do from my lazy chair. Also, I think I can book my trip a little bit cheaper by doing it myself.
Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation? On vacation I always put my phone away… most of the time, anyway.
Do you use all of your vacation time or leave some on the table? I use as much vacation time that I get and enjoy it as much as I can.
What has been your worst vacation experience? We once visited Turkey, took care of a kitten there, and then a car ran over the poor thing. My children were devastated and so was I.
Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all? All of the above.
What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation? Always an easy read; thrillers mostly. I have an ebook (a Kobo), which was the best gift I ever received — especially for being on tour.
If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be? That’s a hard question. I really can’t think of anyone. I’m not very interested in celebrities.
What is the best gift to give a traveler? An ebook — if they like reading of course.
What is your go-to snack for a flight or a road trip? Some nuts, salted. I love nuts and they do the job when you’re hungry.
What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation? I rescued a dog from Phu Quoc (a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia). Long story short: A stray dog followed us for a full day. I wanted to have a dog for a long time, but my wife was more of a cat person — until she met this one. A vet in Ho Chi Minh took care of him, made sure all the health and paperwork stuff was done, and four months later he came to live with us. I think every day of a tropical island because of him.
What is your favorite app/website for travel? Kayak.
What has travel taught you? That the world is beautiful and that I’m fortunate to explore some of it [including] other cultures, habits, food, etc. And we should take care of it better.
What is your best travel tip? Do it. Go. Don’t wait.
Juliet Pennington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.