Delegates are in for a treat as the hit children’s musical is reprised for Asia Conference 2010.
|CN PHOTOS : Albert Soh
This week, attendees of Asia Conference 2010 are in for a treat as YoungTalents stage a repeat performance of its sold-out musical Fish Ball Ping Pong. Originally performed in December last year, the cast of 123 children played to 1,319 audience members at the Lee Foundation Theatre at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
Among the audience were Ms. Irene Ng, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC; Mr. Lee Suan Hiang, Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Development Office at Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts and Senior Advisor to National Arts Council and the National Heritage Board, Ms. Penny Low, President and Founder of Social Innovation Park and Ms. Elim Chew, Forbes Asian Philanthropist and president and founder of retail chain 77th Street.
In the upcoming performance, the cast returns to tells the story of Candy (Sissy Ng), a young girl who helps out at her parents’ fishball noodle stall and is talent-scouted by the national table tennis coach. Upon joining, she faces great hostility from her rival, Song Jiale (Rachel Lim).
Eventually, Candy finds her place on the national table tennis team, and together, they overcome challenges to emerge victorious.
This musical marks a milestone for YoungTalents, which has consistently outdone itself since its first musical When I Grow Up in 2008. As it develops experience, YoungTalents has also grown tremendously in terms of professionalism, stage design and script content.
Aside from being a performance of drama and song, the musical was also an opportunity for the cast to gain exposure to the world of the arts, as well as to develop their own talents and abilities—this intent lies at the core of YoungTalents, to offer opportunities for children to participate in the performing arts. It certainly has not been an easy feat for the children to put up a performance that is of near-professional standard, especially since most of the cast have no prior professional training.
Another unique feature of Fish Ball Ping Pong are the 21 cast members with special needs. These cast members get their moment in the spotlight together with the other cast members, all set to impress with a martial arts display. Director and cast are confident there will be a repeat of what happened at the December performance: the audience cheered when the cast broke boards with their bare hands with triumphant shouts that rang across the theater. The entire performance received a standing ovation, with some of the audience moved to tears.
Eileen Toh, President of YoungTalents, told City News that she was impressed with the children’s enthusiasm and wholehearted dedication to this encore performance.
“The whole group practiced and exhibited lots of discipline and co-operation. Backstage, you could also see our kids and the children with special needs interacting, having fun together and making an effort to care for one another—that was most touching and heart-warming.”
Toh has high hopes for these children. She emphasizes that the goal of YoungTalents is to stay true to its core belief system, which is to harness the potential of each individual, and to give them an opportunity to express and use their talents.
Says Toh, “I want every kid who joins us to walk out with an experience that makes them a better person—it is the journey that matters.”
Toh hopes that by raising the standard for YoungTalents year upon year, the organization will eventually see large audiences, and inspire the public to accept and support the arts.
Lead actress, Sissy Ng, 14, a student at School Of The Arts, is excited about this week’s performance. “I feel very honored because I get to perform in front of all delegates from all over the world. This musical has really helped us to stretch our potential by allowing us to try new things. I hope to inspire youths not to despise their youth, but to believe that they can use it to serve God and others.”
Cast member Natalie Ng, 12, a Rivervale Primary School student, says being in this production has been a learning experience. “I learned from being involved in this production, that in everything that you do, sacrifice is important. It has taught me to manage my time as there are many rehearsals we have had to attend. Performing this musical in Asia Conference is so far the most exciting thing I’ve done, and I am looking forward to it.”
In addition to developing youth in the arts, YoungTalents is also focused on developing the children’s characters and love for the community. After last year’s performance of Fish Ball Ping Pong, the cast got together and took part in a project called Kids Give Back Too. Invitations were extended to children from the Darul Ihsan Orphanage and lower-income group families to watch the musical, and after that, proceeds from the musical were used to renovate four study rooms at the orphanage. The cast also visited the orphanage, bringing gifts to the children in the home.
For Toh, each musical is unique and has its own measure of success. Fish Ball Ping Pong achieved her goal to “empower our kids to empower other kids.” This was achieved through the performance, as well as the community involvement thereafter.
But just for this week, there is no agenda for the cast of Fish Ball Ping Pong other than to bring delight to the audience. Says Toh, “I think the delegates will enjoy the innovation and the creativity put into this musical. It is very light-hearted and filled with lots of laughter. It is definitely good fun for the whole family.”
Be sure to catch Fish Ball Ping Pong this Saturday, May 29, 11 a.m. at Singapore Expo Hall 10.
Additional reporting by Nicolette Ng.