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Interview: The divas of 'Great World Cabaret'

We travel back in time with the three local divas of Great World Cabaret, who’ll play a trio of entertainment queens of the ’70s

Great World Cabaret is at Resorts World Sentosa from Feb 19-Mar 17.

Joanna Dong
Photo: Resorts World
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Joanna Dong

Tell us about your character.

Sakura Teng was a big star of our region in the ’60s to ’80s. Nicknamed the ‘A Go-Go Queen’, she was known for her signature yodelling style, and being able to sing in many languages such as English, Mandarin, Malay, Japanese and Tagalog. Sakura has an impressive 50 albums under her belt, but it is really her energetic live performances and effervescent personality that make her stand out.

What is the most interesting thing about your character?

I was always under the impression that Sakura is Singaporean, but she actually hails from Malaysia. Apparently she was immediately offered a job when the manager heard her perform Chubby Checker’s ‘Let’s Twist Again’ at New Life Review music and dance hall, after being urged on stage by her friends.

How similar are you to your characters?

What’s interesting is that Sakura was known for singing Mandarin covers of popular English music, and I’ve been doing something similar in my career.

If your life were a cabaret, what would be in it?

It would begin with a re-enactment of my Singapore Idol me I looked really ‘auntie’. That would be followed by a sequence of vignettes of my childhood and of me in my 20s in stylish evening gowns singing jazz. The first act would end with the present day me, in my early 30s doing a song-and- dance number entitled ‘You Can Call Me Auntie’.

Aisyah Aziz
Photo: Resorts World
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Aisyah Aziz

Tell us about your character.

The late Malay pop singer Kartina Dahari was known as the ‘Queen of Keroncong’ – a type of Malay folk music – and was the first Malay singer to record in English.

What is the most interesting thing about your character?

The fact that Kartina is a very classy, lady-like person is a huge challenge as I have to mimic her gestures. She also has a golden voice, so I have to sound good on stage. I’m so nervous!

How similar are you to your characters?

Kartina was said to be very chatty and friendly, which I feel I could relate to. But she’s a far more elegant person, while I’m this sloppy girl who loves to sing.

If your life were a cabaret, what would be in it?

It’d be a whole lot of genre-sampling music and a few comedy acts. I’ve always enjoyed burlesque, so I wouldn’t mind that, either.

Seong Hui Xuan
Photo: Resorts World
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Seong Hui Xuan

Tell us about your character.

I’ll be playing Rose Chan, who is probably Asia’s most famous striptease dancer, even to this day. Known as the ‘Striptease Queen’ and the ‘Flower of Malaya’, she made waves in the ’50s and ’60s with her sensational acts that saw her wrestling pythons, bending iron bars, and having motorbikes ride over her body – she was badass!

What is the most interesting thing about your character?

It’s hard to pick a favourite, so here are my top-three fun facts. Firstly, in spite of being a part of this gritty underworld, she abhorred drugs. Secondly, ‘Rose’ was actually the English name that Rose’s sister had chosen for herself. But when her sister stole Rose’s sweetheart, Rose stole her name. And thirdly, she was a fantastic chef and loved cooking for her friends.

How similar are you to your characters?

I identify with her independent spirit, but apart from that, we’re pretty dissimilar.

If your life were a cabaret, what would be in it?

An eclectic mix of music, shadows, flowers, grass and lots of dancing. And flying. Everyone would be flying.

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