Ivan Heng’s Back as Emily

What influenced your decision to return to the role?
Emily of Emerald Hill was W!ld Rice’s very first production so it seemed a fitting finale to our 10th anniversary season of smash hits. Also, Glen Goei, a very fine director and one of my dearest friends, agreed to direct me in it.
It’s been awhile—has it been challenging returning to the role?
Stella Kon, the playwright, wrote to me to say that it must be like wearing an old kebaya; that one has to work to get into it but once it feels on, it feels very comfortable and familiar. I agree with her but have also come to appreciate a quote from Bette Davis who said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”
Did you have to work closely with Margaret Chan, who has been playing the role the past few years?
No, although I did see her performance last year. This is a new creation.
Tell us a little bit about the creative concept of the show; particularly the wardrobe.
As far as costumes are concerned, everything’s designed by fashion maven Frederick Lee, who has created an entire wardrobe to reflect Emily’s global outlook. Emily had the means to wear the latest fashions of the day. As for her kebayas, they have always been custom-made and hand-embroidered for me.
What do you enjoy most about playing Emily?
Emily is a child bride, daughter in-law, wife, mother, grandmother, and matriarch.  I relish every single one of these roles. I also love being with an audience; hearing them, feeling them.
What was toughest about this role?
Making each and every performance new and true.
What can we look forward to from your performance?
There is a great deal of laughter and tears that come from an audience recognizing themselves and their relationships with their mother and grandmothers, as well as their sons and husbands.  Ultimately, Emily is a powerful experience because it is a play about what it means to love and be loved
Make a date with Emily of Emerald Hill on Mar 3-12, 3pm, 8pm at the Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Dr., 6828-8377. $29-99 from Sistic.