Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Teng Siew Eng
As entertainers, Denise Tan and Shane Mardjuki are two bubbly, animated people who effortlessly shine with laughter and quips, but when we spoke to the both of them last week during rehearsals for upcoming play Hello Goodbye, we discovered topics that make their faces light up even more.
For Gold 905FM jockey and Dim Sum Dolly member Denise, it is her hosting gig at this year's National Day Parade. "It was amazing to actually be asked to be a part of SG50," she gushed. But such a high-profile gig did not come without its worries. "There was also quite a lot of fear, because when I hosted the NDP about ten years ago, I did the most spectacular face-down fall in front of 50,000 people at the old National Stadium, so I had that incident very vividly playing in my mind the whole time, hoping it wouldn't happen again."
Thankfully, everything went without a hitch for her, although the same can't be said for one of her male co-hosts (whom she refused to name). "The boys were showing off on their Ninebot scooters, and someone fell off and ripped his pants," she reported. Luckily for the chap, this happened during rehearsals and not live on television.
Denise after wrapping up her NDP 2015 hosting gig; Shane with his family. (Photos from their respective Instagram pages)
As for Shane, the subject that gets his eyes sparkling is his 15-month-old daughter Ellie. "Being a dad is one of the best things. I feel very accomplished and now, I have a reason to wake up and go to rehearsals, which I used to dread. Baby makes everything worthwhile - I know it's cheesy but it's true!" exclaimed the FLY Entertainment artiste, who is married to Jin Pang.
He is also a lot more outgoing. “I used to be very bad at making new friends and making eye contact, but I have changed,” he said. “Now I say hello to a lot to people, to the point of it being weird. I don’t know what happened! I just decided I want to be friendlier.” (Denise attributes his new personality to having a small child i.e. his daughter in his life.)
Interestingly, his little bundle of joy was born right before the full dress rehearsal or the preview showing (they can't remember which one) of Shane and Denise's last play together, Pangdemonium's The Rise & Fall Of Little Voice, and somehow, the new father was able to make it to both the birth and for work.
You know it's a rom-com when carrying a box together leads to a steamy make-out session.
Denise is afraid of poisoning Shane with her cooking
This time, for Hello Goodbye, the duo are pairing up to play Alex and Juliet, who cross paths when they arrive at an apartment each claims to be their own. An intense war of words ensues but, as all romantic comedies would have it, they fall in love.
However, the stars insist that this isn't another one of your typical, fluffy, lovey-dovey fairy tales. "It's still a romantic comedy, but it digs a little deeper and explores what happens after a couple gets together and that's when it gets very interesting," Denise explained, as Shane continued, "You always see the work that it takes to get together, but not the work that goes into 'couple maintenance'."
To prepare for their roles, Shane got to indulge in his self-professed guilty pleasure: watching romantic comedies and sitcoms from the 90s and early 2000s. While Denise "didn't need to do that" as she "has already watched too many rom-coms in her lifetime", she had to spruce up her skills in a far more practical area: cooking.
"I'm supposed to cook for real on stage, and Shane has to eat what I make," she said. "Cooking for real is one thing, but to not kill your co-star by poisoning him with something made with raw egg? That's another matter. So now I'm watching a lot of professional chefs' videos and practising." And what is the dish she'll be whipping up? "(I can't say what it is), but I've already given you enough hints with the ingredient."
If Denise doesn't kill Shane with her on-stage cooking, they might kill each other with physical violence instead. (Don't worry, no actors were harmed in the taking of this picture.)
When we were treated to a glimpse of the play before our interview, we noticed one scene where “Juliet” takes off her top and tosses it to “Alex”, who is trying to prove that he is not physically attracted to her in an early part of the story. While no garments were actually removed during practice, Denise let on that she will be removing her shirt during the real deal.
“I have to, it’s part of the plot!” she said with a smile. However, when we probed for more details, such as how unclothed she’s going to get (we don’t think she’ll go that far, considering that the play is open to anyone age 11 and above) and how she’s preparing for it, all she would say was, “I’m afraid we don’t want to reveal too much – so to speak – otherwise it’ll be a spoiler for audiences, that’s why we need to keep it under wraps.”
Guess we’ll all have to catch the show to find out more, but we appreciate Denise’s pun-filled response anyway.
Hello Goodbye runs from September 2 to 26 at 8pm at the DBS Arts Centre – Home of SRT. Tickets are priced from $15 to $60 (excludes booking fee) and are available on SISTIC.