Oops! Asia’s debut musical is a harrowing but ultimately rousing production about the hope that can only be found in Christ.
Contributed By Yong Yung Shin
There was a period in Angeline Yeo’s life that did not seem too far removed from the headlines that appear in the papers every now and then—the dental assistant in her mid-40s was at the end of the rope as her husband faced death row for drug trafficking. He had been forced to smuggle drugs by loan sharks because he could not pay off his debt.
Hope For The Hopeless is based on Yeo’s true account. Performed over four days to sold-out crowds at the NAFA Lee Foundation Theatre from June 9 to 13, it was the first musical production by Oops! Asia Singapore, a Christian music ministry which serves as a platform for aspiring Christian songwriters to produce Christian albums.
The musical was conceptualized by Oops! Asia’s director Christopher Chuah, who also serves as president of the One Hope Centre, a Christian charity established in 2004 that reaches out to gambling addicts and people facing loan shark harassment. He first met Yeo through the center four years ago when he worked with another lawyer from the Lawyers Christian Fellowship to assist her husband in his drug trafficking case.
While divine intervention saved her husband from the death penalty (miraculously, the amount of heroin he was carrying narrowly missed the mark which would have immediately sentenced him to the gallows), it is Yeo’s touching journey of faith and redemption which anchors the story.
“There were two main objectives of the musical. Firstly, there is the evangelistic objective of conveying the message of hope for the hopeless in Christ Jesus. Secondly, it is to inform the public about the work of One Hope Centre and that there is a place where people struggling with gambling addiction or loan shark problems can turn to,” said Chuah. “We wanted to present the gospel as the only solution for those addicted to gambling, which is a very relevant issue in our society today,” added assistant director Cristina Atiga who also played the lead role of Yeo.
Preparations for the production of the musical, from script- and song-writing to staging, took one year; rehearsals started in January this year, with the cast and crew drawn from various local churches. Interestingly, several of the volunteers in the production are ex-gamblers themselves. “Seeing their changed lives reminded me why I was doing all this,” said Atiga, who also serves in the creative department of her church, Every Nation, while taking on roles in mainstream productions every now and then.
“It was a conscious decision to step out beyond the four walls of the church to stage it in a public venue and bring it to the marketplace … where people struggling with such issues may be less intimidated from attending,” explained Chuah. The yardstick for production’s success, however, was not so much the number of seats filled, but lives that were ministered to. After the musical ended its run, “we saw a significant increase in enquiries to the One Hope Centre for assistance,” he said.
If you know of anybody who is battling gambling addiction, or for more information about the services offered by One Hope Centre, log on to www.onehopecentre.org.