Off Stage

Playing a pig is a walk in the park

Candice de Rozario (third from far left) with her castmates Benedict Hew, Ethel Yap and Andrew Lua in The Three Little Pigs.
Candice de Rozario (third from far left) with her castmates Benedict Hew, Ethel Yap and Andrew Lua in The Three Little Pigs. PHOTO: SINGAPORE REPERTORY THEATRE

Theatre actress Candice de Rozario, 35, plays Mother Pig in Singapore Repertory Theatre's children's production The Three Little Pigs.

She is also a classically trained mezzo soprano who will star in her first opera performance this October in The Flying Dutchman, presented by the Richard Wagner Association (Singapore) in collaboration with OperaViva and theatre company The Finger Players.

She declines to reveal her marital status. What was your first performance like? I've always treaded the boards, even as a child, so honestly, I can't remember what it was like or even what I did. But it was probably a kindergarten or Sunday school concert and I was most likely singing a carol solo while dressed as a sheep. Perhaps that's where my affinity for playing farmyard animals originated. How do you prepare for a show? Before a performance, I usually do some light stretching or yoga, or if I'm feeling sprightly, I might run laps around the auditorium. I spend some time facing a wall because I'll be pulling all sorts of weird and ugly faces. That's usually accompanied by odd noises, scales and tongue twisters.

The Three Little Pigs cast often gather on stage for a group warm-up. We might do a strenuous dance number from the show to get the blood pumping or take turns leading the others through various exercises. Quite a lot of silliness ensues. It's great fun. What is the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you while you were on stage? Such moments occur all the time. That's the beauty of live theatre, it's never the same twice. If I were to pick just one, it's when I happened to have a birthday while working on a show at the Drama Centre. During curtain call, someone brought out a cake. The cast, crew, band and the entire sold-out audience joined in to sing Happy Birthday. That made it nearly 700 people, all singing Happy Birthday to me, while I was on stage doing what I love most. If I had died at that moment, I would have gone with a huge grin on my face. You've also been a death metal band singer on top of being a theatre actress and classically trained singer. Tell us more about your journey. My father is a retired music teacher, so music has always been a big part of my life. I went through piano lessons, played percussion in the school band and eventually settled on singing around the time I was in college.

I'd always been involved in the children's choir in church and was often tasked with solos. I joined the choir again in college and took voice classes there. The thing is, it offered only classical voice and I wanted to be a rock star then. My voice was best suited to classical singing, so I stuck with it.

In 2000, when I returned from the United States to Singapore, I started getting cast in musicals. As for the theatre for young audiences, I stumbled into it.

  • BOOK IT /THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

    WHERE: KC Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Road 

    WHEN: Till Sept 17, 10am on weekday, 11am and 2pm on weekend and public holiday

    ADMISSION: $25 to$48 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg

    INFO: For details, go to www.srt.com.sg

I had been singing in an all- female rock band and from attending gigs, I got to know people from the underground metal scene. I dated one of the vocalists for many years, during which a mutual friend of ours invited us to front his band as an "angel/devil" dual-vocal concept. My then-boyfriend would do the heavy growling vocals and I'd take charge of the operatic melodies - think a much heavier version of Evanescence or a trashier and less melodic version of Nightwish. The band lasted only two or three years, but it was great fun.

What was the strangest character you have had to play on stage? One was a surrealist dream version of Imelda Marcos for Furthest North, Deepest South by The Finger Players. The puppet was a big white sock with eyes, hair and big breasts, stuck inside a huge golden high heel shoe.

The other would be a ditzy diva called Miss P, one of the major characters in Stages' original horror comedy, H Is For Hantu. The P in her name stands for penanggalan, a type of female ghost in South-east Asian mythology, which is a floating head with spine and entrails attached. By that yardstick, playing a pig is a walk in the park.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Playing a pig is a walk in the park'. Print Edition | Subscribe