Dawn Yeoh: Crescendo offers an insider view of showbiz

Actress bares her soul on the darker episodes of filming the new Channel 8 drama


Photos: Teo Sijia, Jeslyn Say, Channel 8
Video: Lye Yuk Sing

Attempting suicide, abusing prescription medication and being humiliated on live television with pies in the face might come across as far-fetched in Crescendo, Channel 8’s mega-production that revolves around xinyao (Singapore folk music) and the recording company set up by three like-minded friends (played by Christopher Lee, Tay Ping Hui and Darren Lim). But according to actress Dawn Yeoh, there’s an element of truth in these plot developments.

“The whole drama does give an insider view of showbiz,” she said. “But I’ve been lucky, I’ve never gotten cream pies smashed in my face.”

At the Crescendo press conference yesterday, the actress shared with Toggle the difficulties of being handed the role of Fang Xin Yi, a troubled singer who uses drugs and falls in love with her married boss, Yang Yi Wei, played by Christopher Lee. “My character is serious or crying most of the time and seldom smiles, which is the opposite of my own personality,” Dawn said.


The emotional turmoil of juggling a dark suicide scene with filming the cheery drama series 118 was almost too much to bear for the 30-year-old actress. “On my second day [on set for Crescendo] I shot that suicide scene, so I had to get really deep into the emotions right from the start,” she said.

Filming that scene definitely affected her mood, Dawn said. After the suicide scene wrapped, she had to rush over to shoot 118, which has a happier, comedic tone. The director of 118 couldn’t shoot close-ups of her face because her eyes were swollen and red from the crying she had to do earlier that day, she added.

“During those days I did feel like I was developing a split personality!” she said. “As actors we sometimes become too involved in our characters, and the emotional turbulence then was overwhelming.”


Like the role of Fang Xin Yi, Ann Kok’s character also suffers troughs in her musical career. The actress plays Shirley, a singer who moves to Taiwan after getting scouted, but struggles to gain recognition and winds up playing gigs in bars.

Ann says she shares few similarities with her down-and-out character. “We’re both tough people, but she’s so pessimistic, and I think her persistence on certain things is too extreme,” she said. Despite the experience in Taiwan, Shirley still harbours hopes of becoming a singer and recording artist, and believes Darren Lim’s music producer character when he tells her he’ll cut albums for her and encourages her to return to Singapore.

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