Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Chat with Selena Tan

I spoke to Selena Tan on the phone at the end of a long day of rehearsals, choping a seat at the MBS foodcourt with only 15 minutes to the opening of the dance spectacular Merchants of Bollywood. Soon to appear in her own Deam Aademy's Ting Tong Belles, this one-woman dynamo's presence has graced our TV screens and theatre stage, is impresario of her own act and promoted many well-known personalities from the stage instead of TV. But instead of a diva-CEO persona, I had a rather pleasant conversation with a down-to-earth and straightforward person. Here's what we discussed:

The Mad Scene: For those of us who have not attended a Crazy Christmas show, tell us in your own words what it is about?

Selena Tan: Its our year end show so its a time for us fellow performers to come together, for love and reflection at this time of the year, and also to know our audience, share in joy and friendship, have some fun and share in some craziness at this time of the year.

The Mad Scene: This year's edition features the Ting Tong Belles, is this a new act that will appear on future Dream Academy projects as well, much like the Dim Sum Dollies or Broadway Beng?

Selena Tan: No, Ting Tong Belles is the theme for this year, which came from the fact this years show has so many girls, including Dim Sum Dollies Judee Tan and girls from our Company show, so that's how that came up. But will feature the Dream Academy trademark acts, including Broadway Beng, Dim Sum Dollies, Kumar and acappella group Vocaluptuous. Kumar will perform in all performances except the matinee shows, so our matinee show is more family friendly and our night shows explore the naughtier side of Christmas.

The Mad Scene: How does the show come together? Describe the process that you and the team go through to come up with so many characters, jokes and skit ideas?

Selena Tan: We start thinking of the concept for the year's Crazy Christmas 6 to 8 months in advance. And depending on the talent available, inspires us to put together different programmes; that's how it works out. Then we take 3 months to write and one and a half months to rehearse.

The Mad Scene: On another note, the Dim Sum Dollies will be making a come-back at this show, with Denise Tan replacing Emma Yong. How has the dynamics of the group changed, or is it still the same ensemble that we have come to know and love?

Selena Tan: Of course the dynamics have changed, Emma is irreplaceable. Denise, Pam and I have worked very closely on other shows and are great friends, Denise is a wonderful talent and very accomplished in her own right. We are good friends and work well in the rehearsal room. We enjoy each other's company and work well together. In a way she is similar to Emma as they are both perfectionists, so we understand each other.

The Mad Scene: In addition to performing you are also the artistic director of this company. How do you handle the demands of performing on stage, for TV and managing the administrative and financial demands of the company?

Selena Tan: I have a very able team is part of the same team I have worked with for a long time. We have an office that does a lot of the business work. so that takes up quite a bit of my time. But once I go into rehearsals I go into actor mode. I am very fortunate to be working with talented performers and administrators. I have to say that both roles are equally demanding; it is different to running a business, and whether its artistic or administration I depend on the talents of other people as well.

The Mad Scene: What's next for Dream Academy after Crazy Christmas?

Selena Tan: We have a very packed year next year. In the midst of putting together a few shows, including Happy Ever Laughter, a stand-up comedy act. Dim Sum Dollies will also do a complete show in December next year. Plus we also have smaller show in the works.

The Mad Scene: The company has focused quite a lot on Sondheim, any more plans to produce his musicals?

Selena Tan: It will be great if people like to come to Sondheim productions, but unfortunately it is taking us quite a while to build a crowd of Sondheim lovers. I hope that this year won't be the last year we do Sondheim, but so far there's nothing in the pipeline.

The Mad Scene: Last question, why should our readers come and watch Crazy Christmas!?

Selena Tan: I think its going to be a really wacky one this year! We are really going to chic it up with different genres for different of audience, and some really crazy people in our cast. Dim Sum Dollies is coming back! Come and enjoy the festivities and celebrate Christmas with us!

Crazy Christmas: Ting Tong Belles runs from 11 to 22 December 2013. Check out the Events Page for more details.

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