The Power Of Saying Hello & Goodbye

A simple greeting or farewell can be a lifechanger, according to Hello Goodbye star Denise Tan

Actress and Gold 90.5FM deejay Denise Tan knows all about greetings and goodbyes. The bubbliest chick on the block has no qualms chatting to strangers on holidays, and she bid a tough and teary farewell to fattening foods (major respect!) a few years ago when she decided to shed the pounds.


This month, she’s co-starring in Singapore Repertory Theatre’s new rom-com Hello Goodbye, together with Unlucky Plaza’s Shane Mardjuki. In this tale of ordinary love that begins in extraordinary circumstances, Juliet (played by Tan) finds Alex (Mardjuki) in the apartment she thinks she’s renting alone – but which he claims is his. While he doesn’t have her quite at “hello”, rage eventually leads to romance and…well, to find out more you’ll just have to watch the show.

Here, Tan shares her personal experiences on how saying hello or goodbye can change a charted course. 

What’s the most surprising hello you’ve ever experienced?

“Long story (see below) but while in New Zealand and travelling on a tiny budget, my friends and I couldn’t get a room in the only hostel open in town. An Irish surfer who was staying at that hostel overheard and said hello. He invited us to hang out in the hostel anyway and shared his food with us. Then he offered to let us sleep in his beat-up van parked outside for the night. That was dinner and accommodation sorted! Purely on an unexpected predicament and unexpected hello!”

Have you ever said hello to a stranger?

“Yes, when I hitchhiked for five days with two other friends across the North Island of New Zealand back in 2006. There were certainly a lot of hellos with strangers! It was a real leap of faith to rely the kindness of strangers – it was quite surprising that people actually stopped to give us lifts, chatted with us and shared a bit of their lives for the duration of the ride. We were given lifts in all sorts – swanky sedans, clunky little cars, even a mobile home, by all sorts – businessmen, tourists. While I can’t see this ever happening in Singapore (and on hindsight probably wouldn’t recommend it), my New Zealand hitchhiking experience restored a little faith in humanity, that people can be generous and helpful, no strings attached.”

How important are first impressions to you?

“I’m not gonna lie – they’re important. But I’m hoping that with age comes wisdom and the openness to look at people beyond that first impression and actually get to know them before making any snap judgments. Especially since I’m pretty sure if people judged me purely on first impressions, I’d probably have no friends! Haha.” 

Your saddest goodbye?

“To sugar and oil when I went on a super-healthy diet three years ago! It was a brief goodbye though. I said hello again to sugar and oil once I’d lost 12kg!” (Ed’s note: 12?! Can you share the details of this diet with us, puh-lease!)

Do you think a goodbye can ever be a happy moment? Why? 

“Of course, especially if you’re bidding farewell to something that has been toxic or harmful to your life, whether it’s someone, or an addiction/bad habit, or something like unforgiveness.”

Favourite farewell song to either sob to or comfort yourself with?

“From my years in radio and playing people’s song requests, it’s obvious that music is such an emotional medium and when the lyrics are true, you connect with a song instantly, no matter what situation you’re in, whether you’re happy, in love, sad or saying goodbye. For me, I don’t have really have a favourite go-to goodbye song, but I highly recommend Ella Fitzgerald’s classic Every Time We Say Goodbye. It kills me every time – the words, the melody, her voice! Also, I will always associate saying goodbye to New York City, after an amazing vacation there, with Dave Matthews Band’s The Space Between because it was playing in the cab on the way to JFK.”

SRT’s Hello Goodbye runs from 2 September to 26 September at the DBS Arts Centre. Tickets priced from $30; to book, click here.

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