Full steam ahead: Dim Sum Dollies are back after seven years

The Dim Sum Dollies' new show, Still Steam, marks the iconic Singaporean female comedy trio's 20th anniversary. ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

SINGAPORE - After a seven-year hiatus, the Dim Sum Dollies are back with their first full cabaret revue.

The show, Still Steam, marks the iconic Singaporean female comedy trio's 20th anniversary.

Joining the Dream Academy team is new member Jo Tan. The 40-year-old actress and writer will be a familiar face and voice to locals, having hosted SPH Radio station Kiss92's previous morning show Wake Up And Go With Div And Jo.

Tan - who won Best Actress and Best Original Script at this year's Straits Times Life Theatre Awards - had auditioned to be a Dolly five years ago. She was asked to play roles such as an archetypal student from a top girls' school and a bird.

She landed a role in the show, but because of Covid-19 pandemic delays, this will be her first appearance as a Dolly in a full revue.

"It is just such an honour," says Tan, who used to write press releases for the Dim Sum Dollies when she was working in the public relations team that supported the group in 2004.

"In this landscape, there are just a lot more roles - both on and off the stage - for men. So, watching the Dim Sum Dollies in the past always made me feel like these women are writing and performing stories that are relevant to them, creating this brand that is just so powerful. It sends a message that women are able to do whatever they want to do."

The comedy trio was founded in 2002 by Selena Tan, Pam Oei and the late Emma Yong, who died 10 years ago from late-stage stomach cancer. Actress and DJ Denise Tan filled her spot in performances until 2016, when she stepped down to focus on radio hosting.

Chief Dolly Selena Tan, 51, is glad Jo Tan was able to join the team, which she wanted to be "different but the same".

"Our voices are slightly different, but they blend together," says the Dream Academy founder, who has appeared in films such as Crazy Rich Asians (2018).

Oei, 50, adds: "Jo brings some fresh energy to the space. We are in no way trying to replace Emma. It is just a role that we think needs to be filled."

Still Steam is the Dollies' grand comeback after the pandemic. "To be able to say, 'Hey, we're here with bells and whistles on' - this is a real triumph of spirit, I think," says Selena Tan.

The show will explore contemporary topics and themes of womanhood in a light-hearted manner. Tan says she always relishes putting on bits plucked fresh from the headlines at the last minute.

But there will also be historical skits, like one about Irish nuns, who were part of creating the education system in Singapore, and fan favourites from past revues.

"Still Steam is really a celebration of our 20 years," she says.

Adds Jo Tan: "Viewers get to see so many different types of female characters in this show and it's pretty wonderful. We are not presenting a thesis on feminism, but our show is an expression of something like Whitney Houston's song, I'm Every Woman - we can embody all the different types of characters.

"For me, that is very empowering and liberating. But, most of all, it's so much fun."

Book it/Still Steam

Where: Capitol Theatre, 17 Stamford Road
When: Aug 26 to Sept 10, Mondays to Fridays, 8pm; Saturdays, 4 and 8pm
Admission: Tickets from $20 at this website

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