We’re giving away three pairs of tickets to catch this light-hearted rom-com in action!
Being a Jane of all trades and the master of everything is one tall order, but radio DJ and actress Denise Tan has all the credentials to prove that her career pursuits were right on the money. Not only is this sassy lass one-third of the talented cast of Dim Sum Dollies, she’s also the golden voice we tune in to on Gold 90.5 FM (she gets us through rough mornings in the office). This September, Denise is taking to the stage in the hottest romantic comedy of the year, Hello/Goodbye as Juliet, an impetuous whirlwind of a woman, moving into an apartment she thinks she’s renting on her own… or so she thought. We sat with Denise pre-curtain call to chat about her comedic role and find out who can really tickle her bones. It’s official: your next girl crush has arrived.
We’re also giving away three pairs of tickets to catch this lighthearted rom-com so find out more below on how you can score some tickets!
Hi Denise! Can you tell us more about how your career in theatre began?
My career in theatre started playing a duck in my kindergarten graduation performance! I was hooked. All through school I was involved in skits for assembly and the drama clubs. I got a degree in Theatre Studies & English Literature and upon return to Singapore from the UK, I began running drama workshops for schools. Then, I auditioned for Beauty World in 1998. That was my first professional gig as a stage actress in Singapore. The rest, as they say, is history!
Hello Goodbye tells the story of a feisty young girl who has the world against her (well, sort of)… what do you think of her character?
I think Juliet isn’t just a character written by a playwright. She is real. Everybody knows someone like her, or recognises something of themselves in her. She is a layered, complex human being who has made certain choices in life because of things that have happened to her. I love playing her because she’s larger than life, yet relatable – she’s an impetuous, smart, sassy, extroverted, whirlwind of a woman who seems to create trouble everywhere she goes, but she meets her match in Alex and then you see that ultimately, she’s just a girl looking for someone to love her for who she is. Isn’t everyone?
Have you had any Alexes in your life?
In real life, I AM Alex! More Alex than Juliet, that is! That’s the irony and also part of the fun of playing Juliet – I have a lot of empathy for Alex because I understand the need for order, to collect and make complete sets of everything (yes, I may have a slight hoarding problem!). That said, I have had others more “Alexy” than me in my life. I once had a housemate who loved collecting kitchen gadgets he bought from those TV shopping channels, but he was so fussy over them he wouldn’t let us use them in case we dulled the blades! He’s the same guy who used to stick post-it notes next to my plates and cups, telling me to clear them immediately. Good times!
If someone is considering watching the play, what would you say to convince them to watch (besides to catch the awesome Denise Tan in action)?
The play is both great fun to be in and to watch. Rehearsing with Shane and our wonderful director Lisa Spirling has been so inspiring creatively and we’ve really been able to plug into the heart of the play. Playwright Peter Souter has written something very clever, funny, layered and so relatable because it’s full of humanity AND hilarity. It’s a romantic comedy, but that also puts a certain formula in your head. What I like about it is that it explodes the typical rom-com formula and gives you a glimpse into what happens AFTER the happily ever after. There are some very raw emotions and issues we deal with amidst all the physical and verbal comedy, so the play offers you more than the usual boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love formula. It’s more than a rom-com – it has depth, it has heart, it has humour, it has surprises and a little mystery. It can also make you shed a few tears. It’s light-hearted and funny, but still gives you something more to chew on and whether you are in a relationship or not – you’re gonna identify with the characters, the situations, the arguments, because at one time or another, you’ve also experienced the same. This couple has a compelling story to tell and believe me, you’ll want to see it unfold before your very eyes at the theatre!
What was it like working alongside Shane Mardjuki?
Shane is super easy-going, super easy to work with and very, very funny. He’s one of those people who are just naturally funny and that’s something I really admire. And he’s very considerate. He always smells nice. Which is a bonus, especially since we have some rather – uh – intimate scenes!
Any tips for asking a cute guy out?
I’d say keep it casual. An invitation to join you and your friends for a group thing, like after-work drinks or a weekend BBQ is a good way to set things up and suss him out.
Can you share with us how you usually prep yourself for a role?
I think the thing with theatre is no show is ever the same, so it all depends. If it’s a musical, for example, then I’ll be working out more, eating healthy and downing heaps of supplements to make sure I’m in good physical condition. Musicals are usually more physically demanding, with the choreo and singing! Speaking of singing, that’s also when I’ll take better care of my voice – no late nights out in loud bars, lots of vocal warm-ups and warm-downs. For this role in particular though, it required a special set of skills involving the culinary arts – so I spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos of celebrity chefs and also time in the kitchen practising. YES! I COOK LIVE ON STAGE! As for the inner workings of my character in this play, I have to give all credit to our wonderful Lisa Spirling, who has really taken us through the paces to get to the emotional heart of the play.
What’s your favourite memory from your career so far?
The time a co-actor accidentally set fire to my hair? True story. But seriously, I think the best memories are the ones that go back to the beginning, so I’d say working on my very first local production has stuck. Back then if you did theatre, it was usually on top of your day job – we’d rehearse after hours, from 6pm to midnight. There was virtually no money, but we were like one big family, doing something together out of sheer love for the work. The late-night post-show suppers and gossip sessions dissecting our performances (other peoples’) were great fun. And you also find that it was those friends you made initially who stay your friends for life.
Who’s your favourite local actor/actress?
Siti K constantly astounds me with her amazing ability to beautifully perform both dramatic roles and comedic roles. She just has a natural, magnetic presence on stage and on screen. Her comic timing is impeccable, yet she can also get down to serious roles and make your heart break with her performance.
Are you working on any other upcoming projects that we should watch out for?
Yes, look out for me on Channel 5, along with my colleagues from Gold 90.5, Vernetta Lopez & Jamie Yeo soon! We’re going to be co-hosting a feel-good entertainment segment on TV. And also catch me along with my fellow Dim Sum Dollies, Selena Tan & Pam Oei, in Dream Academy’s year-end festive production, Crazy Christmas: A groundNut Cracker, along with Broadway Beng, Kumar, Dr TCM Judee Tan & acapella group Vocaluptuous.
Last question. Who’s the funniest person you know?
My God-kids Skyler & Elijah – outta the mouths of babes, you know? But my good friend Sebastian Tan aka Broadway Beng comes close!
*Special thanks to the Singapore Repertory Theatre for coordinating this interview!