Sunday, July 24, 2011

Interview with Selena Tan

The Mad Scene is proud to announce our first ever interview with theatre and TV veteran Selena Tan (woo hoo)! Its been many years since you readers reflected that you would like more musical theatre featured here (in addition to opera and classical vocal of course), with this step I hope it'll be a worthwhile effort to branch out and cover other aspects of our performance arts scene. Anyway, Selena Tan is such a known personality that this article probably needs no introduction. Just check out the promos of Into the Woods later on, and do consider attend k?

The Mad Scene: You are producing this run of performances as well as playing the role of the Baker's Wife. How do you cope with such multiple roles?

Selena Tan: I surround myself with very talented and generous people. It really helps to have amazing teammates like Shireen as well as a great Production Manager, Denise, and they really keep the show running. Could never do any of it on my own!

The Mad Scene: You are working with two foreign imports alongside your usual "kakis". What has influenced your choosing of the two performers? Have they brought something new in their participation?

Selena Tan: Ria Jones from the West End is an incredible talent. She is wonderful technically, and she is also able to bring to the role of the Witch a tremendous heart and her acting is sincere and her singing is truly faultless. I first met her when she came to Singapore to perform in A Twist of Fate in 1997. We had a wonderful time working together then and are having a fabulous time now too! Sheila Francisco, I met when she came to do one of the runs of Chang and Eng in 1999. I have always remembered her amazing voice and wonderful presence on stage. She has also since been performing in Singapore in a re-run of A Twist of Fate as well as The Full Monty amongst other shows. She is a lovely addition to our cast, a stunning voice and very soulful performer. Both are certainly indispensable to this production of Into the Woods.

The Mad Scene: Which part of the musical would you say is your favourite part?

Selena Tan: I love them all. My secret plan is to keep on doing the show again and again so I get to play every single part … hmmm … someday, I’ll even play the Baker! Haha. Seriously though, I love every single character from the Step-Sister to Rapunzel to Witch. The work is so intricate and every character says so much (even those with few lines) and each of the main characters have such beautiful songs. But if I were forced to pick a favourite favourite, it would be the Baker’s Wife (her current role in this production).

The Mad Scene: Do share what has influenced your casting of some of the local performers for their roles?

Selena Tan: Glen (Goei) the director did the casting but we did have many discussions. I feel that Adrian (Pang) is perfectly cast as the Baker. He has heart and humour and a lovely singing voice to boot. Also, I think where Adrian and I are now in our lives, 17 years on from the 1st production of Into the Woods that we did, older and having been round the block a bit, we are relishing the Baker and the Baker’s wife so much! Emma (Yong) is the quintessential Cinderella and it’s a joy having Robin (Goh) and RJ (Rosales) together again as Princely brothers!

The Mad Scene: There are so many wonderful characters portrayed in the musical. If voice and gender are not an issue, what other role would you most like to play (besides your own of course).

Selena Tan: Baker. I love the issues he goes through about parenthood. What’s right? What’s good?

The Mad Scene: On a more serious note, Emma Yong has recently told the media of her recovery from stage four cancer. We audiences are certainly relieved to have her back onstage safe and sound. How does it feel to be working with her again?

Selena Tan: It is always a joy to work with someone as talented as Emma. It feels just like old times. She is as energetic and enthusiastic … actually I think she’s even more energetic and enthusiastic. We have great fun and she’s an actress so cares so much about the work, she’s always challenging you and making sure that we strive towards perfection. That’s why she is an invaluable asset to Singapore Theatre.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, you described this production as one that "we would be proud to invite Mr Stephen Sondheim himself to". Shall the audience look out for any twist or unusually elements in this production?

Selena Tan: We have remained true to Sondheim’s masterpiece … would not have it any other way. Any cuts made were purely cosmetic and merely to keep things moving along so that audiences won’t be kept beyond 2 and a half hours. But I believe there’s so much meat and so much joy to be gained from this musical that everyone will be swept along our journey Into the Woods.


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