SINGAPORE - While she is known for her comic timing and great sense of humour, Irene Ang was anything but her usual upbeat self during this interview 12 days ago.
It had been less than 24 hours since she and musical director Beatrice Chia-Richmond had agreed that Ang, 45, would not reprise her role as Mary Chow in the upcoming musical, Ah Boys To Men. The musical is based on the hit film of the same name and its sequel.
In both films, she played the over-protective mother of a young man enlisting for national service.
While it is not uncommon for celebrities to cite scheduling conflicts as a reason for quitting projects, Ang said it is the future of her company that must take precedence over her passion for acting.
"My first priority now is the business," she said matter-of-factly, with an undertone of resignation. She is determined not to regret it.
She said: "Once I make a decision, I never look back."
At first, she thought she could handle the weekly rehearsals and still manage the company, she said. But it was unfair to the cast and crew that she had to keep answering her phone at rehearsals.
"Beatrice said that I grew up. I would like to do both but you have to sacrifice," she said.
Her role will now be filled by radio DJ Dennis Chew.
She has been stepping away from the stage slowly over the past five years. She got her first big break nearly 16 years ago, when she took on the now-iconic role of Rosie Phua in eight seasons of Phua Chua Kang Pte Ltd.
Her role in Ah Boys To Men was her only acting gig in 2012 and the role of the neurotic mother-in-law in last year's sitcom Spouse For House was her first role for Channel 5 in four years.
Having grown Fly Entertainment from a sole-proprietorship in 1999 to a 40-strong company of full-time staff and artists today, she is now looking to develop the two subsidiaries in the group.