Born and bred in Auckland, Denise has risen to be one of our most successful international stage performers whose versatility spans from classics to Jazz.
At the age of 19 Denise discontinued her pharmaceutical studies, joined the Stewart MacPherson stage production of Evita and after completing the New Zealand , Australian and Hawaiian tours, arrived in 1984 in London where she trained further at the Actors Centre.
Her participation in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem led to a European Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, an engagement for 18 months as an original cast member of CATS in Hamburg, and the chance to perform on Germany’s most luxurious cruise liner MS Europa, after which she landed in New York City to perform in jazz clubs for a year. She produced her first solo CD Never say Goodbye in 1999.
Denise was seen by millions of viewers on Eurosport performing You Must Love Me from her 2007 CD release ‘Whispering Sands’, in a televised ice-skating fala featuring Olympic Gold medalists and World Champions.
Denise’s most recent projects have been her Musical show From Vienna to Broadway, a feature in The Luring, an award winning short film from Alex Plumb, and performing the Classical Jazz Cabaret to open the Sunday Concert Series commemorating Auckland’s recognition as UNESCO world heritage music city for Wallace Arts Trust.
- Corporate event performances
- Media commentary
Here’s your chance to learn more about one of New Zealand’s musical treasures:
How long have you been performing?
For over twenty years
When and how did you discover singing? How did it change your life?
When I was 11 years old. I was very into competing in competitions. They were in the school holidays ,in Auckland in the August break and on the North Shore in the May break. I was entered in a song and dance section. The adjudicator, when giving the results said, “This young girl should be singing”. I was whisked off to lessons.
The biggest change I felt was at school. In the 70’s it was very uncool to be a ballet dancer, then came the singing on top . If I was ever naughty at school – I had to sing for the school assembly!
You’ve performed all over the world, do you have a ‘home away from home’?
Home away from home was London, Berlin and New York for a while but ended as Hamburg – I spent 20 years living in Germany and what a fantastic time I had. I pretty much got to know that continent like the back of my hand and feel fortunate to have experienced it in the good old days when there were country borders.
What is your favourite song to perform or role to play?
That’s tricky – there are so many ! To play numerous roles in ‘CATS’ was definitely a highlight, more so because it was so versatile, taxing and strenuous but you grew enormously in experience. Nowadays, I guess nothing has changed. I love to do my solo show and sing one fabulous song after the other. A Fairy is always fun – fantasy characters give you a certain artistic license ! This week my favourite song to sing is from Sade – Is it a Crime. Who knows what will be the choice next week ……
What was the biggest career (or life) lesson you have learnt so far?
The biggest attribute I feel you can have in life is passion, and certainly in this industry. You can have all the talent, training and contacts you need but unless there is passion for what you do, it can be very disheartening . To know who you are and what you want in life is important and that burning desire can turn obstacles into a fun game!
What are your aspirations for the next five years?
To enjoy life in New Zealand, first and foremost. Work-wise, to bring my experience to the public – we do get a wide range of arts here in New Zealand, considering our isolation, and I would like to add to the public’s choice
What advice would you give to someone starting out in musical theatre?Musical theatre performers are traditionally known as the ‘triple threat’ – you must sing, dance and act – so a good basic training is important . Work with what you have got – you may be stronger in one area that another – which is fine . At an audition, we look for those who have experimented with what they have to offer, for example if you are finding the choreography difficult, act it out, make something of it!
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I am a dress designer and have been for a long time. I have designed costumes and made many of my own garments – I love it !