First indoor National Day Parade show charts Singapore's journey through pandemic

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·Lifestyle Editor
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Local singer-songwriter Shazuan Shiraj, known as Abangsapau (right), performing his original song Each Other, with his mother Farhana binte Ibrahim, during a rehearsal for the National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show at the Star Performing Arts Centre. (Photo: NDP2020 Exco)
Local singer-songwriter Abangsapau (right), performing with his mother Farhana binte Ibrahim, during an NDP rehearsal. (Photo: NDP2020 Exco)

SINGAPORE —This year’s National Day Parade (NDP) show, the first one to be held indoors because of the pandemic, will reflect on Singapore’s journey as the country tackled the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Thursday (30 July), organisers gave media a preview of the NDP show, a yearly rally for Singaporeans every National Day since independence.

The show will be performed at the Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista and broadcast live over television and the internet next Sunday (9 August) beginning from 7pm.

Singaporean singer Nathan Hartono being interviewed at the media preview of the National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show at the Star Performing Arts Centre on 30 July 2020. (Photo: Teng Yong Ping/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Singer Nathan Hartono being interviewed at the media preview of the National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show at the Star Performing Arts Centre on 30 July 2020. (Photo: Teng Yong Ping/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Through films and performances, the show will tell inspiring stories of everyday Singaporeans who supported others as the pandemic affected various groups in society. There will be a series of short films showcasing 31 stories, interwoven with songs performed by local artistes.

Singaporeans profiled during the show include Johann Annuar, 46, director of non-profit organisation Engineering Good, who collected and refurbished donated laptops for needy students undergoing home-based learning when schools closed during the “circuit breaker” lockdown.

Another Good Samaritan, Hann Chia, 41, co-founder of skincare company Fawn Labs, sterilised hundreds of old bottles used to distribute hand sanitiser and handwash to low-income families.

The National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show at the Star Performing Arts Centre will feature inspiring stories of everyday Singaporeans during the COVID-19 pandemic, through films and performances. (Photo: NDP2020 Exco)
The evening show will feature inspiring stories of everyday Singaporeans during the COVID-19 pandemic, through films and performances. (Photo: NDP2020 Exco)

Artists performing include Nathan Hartono, Charlie Lim, Fauzie Laily, Rebecca Lim, Hossan Leong, and Shabir Tahere.

Singer Hartono, 29, is the performer of this year’s NDP theme song, Everything I Am. Since performing at the NDP previously in 2008, he had long harboured a dream of one day being the NDP theme song singer – and his dream came true.

“I just remember thinking that it would be cool if... one day, I can be like, at the end of the show, singing the theme song,” Hartono told Yahoo Lifestyle SEA. “Yeah, I didn't really think that, like, 12 years later, that worked out. So it's surreal in that sense.”

The National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show features small-group performances; it will be broadcast live from The Star Performing Arts Centre. (Photo: NDP2020 Exco)
The NDP show this year features small-group performances. (Photo: NDP2020 Exco)

Rapper-singer Shazuan Shiraj, 21, who goes by his stage name Abangsapau, will be performing a song that he wrote, ‘Each Other’. (Abangsapau, his long-time nickname, means “macho man” in Malay.)

Shazuan wrote ‘Each Other’ a month before his father died of an illness in May during the circuit breaker, and his loss gave new meaning to his song. “I truly realised that all we have is each other... I think that’s something that we all have come to learn through this whole circuit breaker experience, being separated from each other. We’ve all grown a greater sense of gratitude for the presence of our loved ones.”

Although it was previously announced that there would be no spectators at the NDP evening show to minimise the risk of the spread of the coronavirus, organisers said on Thursday (30 July) that there would be a small number of around 150 live spectators who are representatives of society, down from the traditional thousands-strong NDP audience.

Suthasini Rajenderan and Joaquim Gomez, the hosts of the National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show, at the Star Performing Arts Centre on 30 July 2020. (Photo: Teng Yong Ping/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Suthasini Rajenderan and Joaquim Gomez, hosts of the National Day Parade 2020 Evening Show, at the Star Performing Arts Centre on 30 July 2020. (Photo: Teng Yong Ping/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Other safety measures during rehearsals included testing all performers for the COVID-19 disease, downsizing the traditional mass performances to small group performances, and ensuring safe distancing between performers on stage.

Chairman of the NDP show committee, Colonel Wong Shi Ming, 35, said, “Despite the challenges, it has been an incredibly meaningful journey to organise the NDP show this year, and we hope that the voices of Singaporeans that we hear in the show will bring hope and optimism to all of us.”

The NDP creative director, filmmaker Royston Tan, said, “We had hoped to capture the very real and relatable experiences of Singaporeans this year. 2020 has not been rosy, but amidst the struggle, there have been incredible acts of kindness, resilience and unity, which we want to share with the rest of Singapore.”

Celebrations surrounding NDP this year will be tailored to COVID-19 restrictions. There will be a scaled-down military parade at the Padang, and no large scale mobilisation of contingents from grassroots organisations.

Some of the usual NDP highlights will be brought physically into the heartlands in an effort to bring the activities closer to people. These include the mobile column, the state flag fly-past and the Red Lions parachutist display.

The evening show at the Star Performing Arts Centre will round off the day, after which the celebrations will be topped off with fireworks displays at more than 10 sites across Singapore.

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