Dolly Good Christmas

Dolly Good Christmas
Actress Selena Tan (centre) on Denise Tan (left) replacing the late Emma Yong in the Dim Sum Dollies. The third member is Pam Oei (right).

Having a conversation with the Dim Sum Dollies is a little like listening to stand-up comedy in three-part harmony.

The wickedly funny trio of Selena Tan, Pam Oei and new addition Denise Tan are already beginning to get a sense of their new rhythm and chemistry.

It helps that Denise Tan, 38, has watched every single Dollies show since the act debuted in 2002 at the Esplanade Recital Studio, titled A Single Woman.

The actress and radio DJ first stepped in to replace the late actress Emma Yong (with her blessing) in 2011 for Dream Academy's Crazy Christmas revue. Yong had bowed out of the show because of a cancer relapse.

Now, Denise Tan has officially become one of the Dollies.

The act had taken a break after Yong's death in May last year from late-stage sto- mach cancer. The much- loved actress, who was 37, had been a crucial third of the troupe.

Denise Tan says fitting in has been a very natural process, having taken part in the act before. "I don't think it's been very different from any of the times I've rehearsed with them. It's been like 'come, let's rehearse', 'is this funny?', 'can we get our notes right?'"

And she says stepping into Yong's shoes has not been as stressful as it might seem. "It's not a big deal. A lot of people might think it's a very big deal, but the funny thing I've discovered is that - it's not."

Actress-director Selena Tan, 40, adds: "I made sure that every step of the way, I'd inform Emma's family about anything... Her sisters said, 'But of course, we didn't think otherwise. You should go ahead. That's what Emma would have wanted.'

"It's true, because Emma and I had discussed it and we had also discussed including Denise. I don't think she would have wanted it any other way."

The Dollies, who were speaking to Life! at the Dream Academy office space, will do a few comedy sketches at this year's Crazy Christmas, themed Ting Tong Belles, which runs from Dec11 to 22 at the Esplanade Theatre, before returning with a full-length show in the final quarter of next year.

Selena Tan, who is the founder of Dream Academy, describes the transition as having been quite "seamless" and says that their Crazy Christmas act gives them some time to settle into their new formation. "We get the chance to do this now on a smaller scale."

"So it cuts us some slack," says Oei, 41, completing her sentence.

Selena Tan continues: "It allows us this time, which is an emotional time, the opportunity to settle in and deal with the fact that we are a new group, we are the Dim Sum Dollies version 2.0, so that next year is full steam ahead.

"We'll be constantly missing Emma, but we won't have to deal with this stage of our process. We can move on."

They turn to talking about happy moments with Yong, gleefully recalling an instance when she had been addicted to hot dogs from Cold Storage. But they also seem to have welcomed Denise Tan into the fold.

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