The Muse: Denise Tan (Interview)

Denise Tan. Photo courtesy of W!ld Rice Production.

Denise Tan. Photo courtesy of W!ld Rice Production.

10 questions with 37-year-old actress, DJ, and singer.

1. You act, you DJ, you sing – and you even find time to sew. How do you balance everything in your life?

It’s not so much balance, as JUGGLE! And to be honest, sometimes I drop the balls! I try not to sweat the small stuff, and I also make a lot of lists – to organise myself. And I take one task at a time, otherwise I may well go stark, raving mad!

2. You got your degree in Theatre Studies at Leeds Uni (I just graduated from there this summer!) – what are some of the most valuable things you learnt there?

Yay, Leeds! Yay, Chip Butties! Being open to new experiences, new people and just learning to let go and going with the flow. Also, the way of studying and approaching work was so different. I learnt to have an opinion, to think critically and also work independently, without the pressure of parents or classmates constantly comparing my grades! These were my years of discovery, freedom, experimentation, living life fearlessly and embracing every new experience. I watched amazing theatre, discovered new music, made friends from all walks of life, halcyon days, you know? I also learnt that eating chips with gravy everyday for lunch will make you fat & you can’t drink 8 pints of ale without waking up with a headache!

 3. Was acting in the UK really different from acting in Singapore for you personally?

No, not really. The accents may be different, but the intention is always the same – to put up a good show for the audiences.

 4. How does it feel when you’re onstage? Do you ever get stage fright?

It’s exhilarating, the best feeling in the world to be able to make people happy but also the worst, because yes, I suffer from terrible stage fright. But it’s ok, the nerves pass once I get through that first line or that first song and I “feel” the audiences and I know everything’s going to be ok. Stage fright is good, I always say, because you want the adrenaline to give you that boost, that energy, that sparkle on stage.

 5. Who are some of the people that inspired you the most?

My mother, who’s an incredible cook and my dad who’s passed on his love for music to me.

 6. Tell us a little about your upcoming Christmas pantomime ‘Hansel and Gretel’. What should we expect and what role will you be playing?

This is a W!ld Rice production! We take the traditional fairytale and give it lots of local flavour and humour. Audiences will still get the general shape of the original tale, just with lots of garnish! They can expect to feel hungry! As I mentioned before, there’re lots of local flavour and humour, songs and dances, the childrens’ cast gets to lots of adorable things, a roller coaster of emotions, colourful costumes, a super yummy set, the list goes on. Rest assured, all your senses (including taste and smell) will be stimulated and sated!

7. Will adults enjoy the show as much as kids?

Of course Pantos are traditionally fun for the whole family, grown-ups and little ones alike. There are heaps for everyone to enjoy. The children in the audience will appreciate the show on one level – the colours, sounds, animated scenes, interacting with the characters and also seeing other children performing on stage, while there are heaps of nuggets for adults to enjoy, topical jokes and song spoofs, etc.

8. If you could play any role in any show, what would your dream role be?

I’d like to do something completely different from what I usually do in light-hearted musicals. A complex villainous character in a dramatic (non-musical) play would be nice!

 9. What upcoming projects have you got in store after ‘Hansel and Gretel’?

I’ll be helping my friend and co-actor Sebastian Tan (he plays the Chef/Witch) with a little writing for his next ‘Broadway Beng Show’ next year and also performing in it. And of course, continuing with my on-air show on Gold 90FM.

10. Sum yourself up in 140 characters or less (a tweet, basically).

Denise honed her craft by performing Beatles and Boney M songs to her own reflection as a 5-year-old, then began her illustrious career in entertainment playing a duck at her kindergarten graduation show. After 3 years at an English university where she spent more time on stage than in the classroom, she returned to Singapore and went on to play amongst other favourites, a vain horse, a girl eaten by a plant from outer space, a cabaret queen, an electric geisha, a fried rice entrepreneur, a genie trapped in a ring, the wife of a stripper, assorted Ah Lians and a dancing nun. She also enjoys hunting down the perfect french fry and not acting her age – a combination that makes her the ideal Gretel in W!ld Rice’’s latest pantomime about food, family and finding the right path home.

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