Actress Nandi van Beurden sings and skates in musical De Tocht: ‘I have never played a role that was so close to me’

In the Key Moments series, the main character highlights benchmarks from his/her life. This week: actress Nandi van Beurden. She played leading roles in musicals such as Diary of a Sheepdog and is now singing and skating on the ice rink in De Tocht in Leeuwarden. “I want to look back later without any “I wish I had” feeling.”

Just something to eat. Between an afternoon and an evening performance in Leeuwarden, she pokes a fork in the theater hall where Nandi van Beurden (32) plays the leading role in the musical The trip . Over the hot meal we talk about her final place last summer in the TV program The smartest person . “It was a big surprise for me that I got this far. I love facts and figures, but then you have to be lucky that they ask exactly about them.”

She experienced the impact of a TV program with more than two million viewers. “People literally accosted me on the street and on the train. They really sympathized when I didn’t know an answer and wished me the best for the next round.” With a smile: “Even if the series had already been completely recorded, you will still be beaming for the rest of the day.” When it’s time for dessert, she highlights five key moments from her life. A spoiler in advance: it’s not about love. “That just remains to be seen.”

Key moment 1

The day: a July day in 2010

The place: at home on the phone

Accepted at the conservatory of the Fontys Academy in Tilburg.

“Culture is of paramount importance in our home. In group seven of primary school I sang all the songs from the musical during Easter time Jesus Christ Superstar . In high school I did theater and took piano lessons. At first I wanted to become a teacher, but when I was seventeen I came up with the idea of ​​turning my theater hobby into my profession. I am quite practical and looked in program booklets to see what training the actors had done. The conservatory seemed the shortest route to the musical world. At first they thought I was too young there. Rightly so, because I had only had singing lessons for a year. That’s why I first studied English Language and Culture for a year. I was overjoyed when I received a phone call a year later with the message that I could start at the conservatory after all.”

Key moment 2

The day: July 26, 2012

The place: the hospital in Den Bosch

Diagnosis of leukemia

“I was 21. It was towards the end of my second year of college. A party was planned at home, because my brother turned 18. I had been having health problems for some time. Tired and easy to bruise. With a thrombosed leg it started to look like something serious. The cause only became clear when I suffered a pulmonary embolism. To rule out the worst, they did a bone marrow puncture. Then the doomsday scenario turned out to be true: it was acute leukemia. Completely wrong, then.”

“I received chemotherapy. This stops all rapidly dividing cells. Not only the faulty cells fall under this category, but also your hair, for example. You receive blood transfusions to keep the body going. That whole process took six months. So many weeks in the hospital and then so many weeks at home to recover. A year later I had built up enough fitness again and I could continue with the training.”

Has it changed you? “I have always been driven, but I have become more selective in the choices I make. Where I used to shy away from things outside my comfort zone, I now take on those adventures. As Annie MG Schmidt so beautifully said: ‘I don’t regret the things I did. Only regret about all the things I left behind.’ So I won’t let that happen to me again.”

Key moment 3

The day: March 8, 2020

The place: home

A foray into education

“I was almost 30 when I saw the musical Hello Dolly played, with Simone Kleinsma and Paul de Leeuw. A beautiful role, beautiful costumes, impressive sets, everything. I thought: now it has to happen.”

“After two performances the plug was pulled. Corona shut everything down. But I couldn’t justify it to myself to stay on the couch at home. Because in the meantime I heard from friends in education that there were major problems in schools due to corona. Teachers were sick and for many children with working parents, staying home was impossible. So reinforcements were urgently needed. That’s why I placed a call on Instagram: if I could do something in education, they should let me know. I immediately received responses from primary schools in the area. They asked if I could help children of newcomers with language lessons, for others they simply needed a quiet point in the classroom who could tell something. Very rewarding work.”

Key moment 4

The day: January 10, 2021

The place: a primary school in Amsterdam

Asked for the TV show Looking for Maria

“In all the corona uncertainty, I had already resigned myself to the fact that my musical career would remain on the back burner for the time being. One day I was at a school doing crafts with a bunch of toddlers when my phone rang. Whether I was interested in participating in a TV program. As a run-up to the musical The Sound of Music there was a TV search for a suitable actress for the leading role of Maria.”

“I thought that role would be great, but to be honest, I had little interest in such a TV competition. Something like that quickly becomes a popularity contest, while in my opinion it should be about the best actress for the role. But the only way to get that Maria role was that TV route, so I said yes anyway. I thought: come on, I’ll jump through that burning hoop and we’ll see how things go.”

She wins. After which she attracted packed houses for more than a year as the singing nun Maria who took on the role of mother of the widower Von Trapp’s children.

Key moment 5

The day: premiere on October 7, 2023

The place: an ice theater hall in Leeuwarden

A leading role in the musical The trip

“I have never played a role that was so close to me. The trip is about a team of friends from a Frisian village. In their childhood they promised each other that one day they would ride the Elfstedentocht together. When the trip resumes after years of waiting, the friends have grown apart and some live far away. Annet, the woman I play, does everything she can to get the old team together and to get them to the finish line together.”

“The story is symbolic of the power of connection. That’s why I recognize myself so much in this role. Annet faces enormous setbacks, but she fights even harder to achieve her goal. Not to prove themselves, but to restore something more important.”

“This role offers me opportunities that I would never have wanted to miss. I could skate a little, but during the preparations I received skating training at the Sven Kramer Academy. Of course it couldn’t be better. Not only did I learn to skate there, but I also learned a lot about myself. Because the ice is not only slippery, but also a mirror of your own strengths and pitfalls.”

“This is the first musical to be performed on ice and a special theater was built for it. Unique, right? When I think about all that, I feel very privileged to be a part of it. I won’t let such an opportunity pass me by. Otherwise it would have become an if-only thing anyway.”


Nandi van Beurden (1991) graduated from Fontys University of Applied Sciences in her birthplace Tilburg in 2015. She starred in the musical about Annie MG Schmidt and in the musical Amélie in Germany. She won the TV competition Looking for Maria which earned her the lead role in the musical The Sound of Music . She also appeared as Miete, the silent love of chaplain Odekerke in the musical Diary of a sheepdog . Nandi lives in Amsterdam. The trip can be seen seven times a week in the Friso Theater in Leeuwarden.