SINGAPORE, 22 NOVEMBER 2008 — Long queues were forming outside Singapore Expo Hall 8 on 22 November 2008, more than an hour before the scheduled 1pm screening of SPECIAL, a musical presented by the children of Young Talents and RAYZ.
78-year-old Billy Lim was one of the Asia Conference attendees eagerly anticipating the highly-acclaimed musical. “I really love watching the children putting up a performance of this scale. This is something that I’d never imagined we could have in our church,” Lim said.
Minutes before the scheduled screening, there was a flurry of activity as teachers rushed around to touch up the performers’ faces and ensured all the children were present backstage. One could feel the palpable excitement of the young performers as they waited for the musical to start. Bess Chew, 8, who plays a student from Hartland Primary School, said, “I am very happy to be singing and dancing on stage!”
The simple plot of a friendship that developed between a rebellious teenager Nelly (played by Natasha Lim) and Dawn, a girl born with Down’s Syndrome (played by Lynn Kok) was brought to life by the young performers who set the stage on fire with their amazing stage presence.
Singing about breaking free from school rules and achieving dreams, the cast enthralled everyone right up to the final moment of the musical when Nelly dedicated a song to Dawn. The audience applauded especially loudly for the intellectually disadvantaged children, who sang “You Are My Sunshine” while holding up colorful drawings of garden flora and fauna.
|PHOTOS: Gary Sim, Kricia & Samantha Tay|
At the end of the musical, many in the audience could be seen wiping tears from their eyes. One Malaysian delegate from Kedah’s North Star Community Centre, Teoh Szee Foon, 34, was especially touched as he felt that the “message of the musical was very strong” and the performers’ acting and singing were “quite moving”.
What the SPECIAL musical has done is encourage society to accept and befriend the intellectually disadvantaged. Nine-year-old Valerie See sums it up best, “I will definitely befriend children with special needs, because they are just like me.”