SINGAPORE - It was a series of musicals that sought to empower people with "different needs" and show that they could rise above their disabilities.
Some members of the audience were even pleasantly surprised and moved to realise later that many of the performers had disabilities.
After a six-year hiatus, A Nation In Concert is back, with a script penned by award-winning playwright Desmond Sim and pop-style tunes.
The musical is directed by Jonathan Lim, who runs the popular comedy sketch show Chestnuts and was involved in the earlier musicals in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
More than 100 "differently abled" performers will be taking part in the musical, which is centred on the diversity of life in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
They hail from the Association for Persons with Special Needs, Handicaps Welfare Association, Singapore Association for the Deaf and Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.
Theatre professionals and actors, including Nora Samosir and Patricia Mok, will also be joining the cast.
All participants in the musical, which will play at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands on Nov 8, are pitching in for free.
Lim told My Paper that the three earlier shows were set in fictional settings, including a garden and the sea.
This time, a Singapore backdrop, Sungei Buloh, was chosen so that the characters will have a local spin and reflect the diversity in the country.
"We thought it was perfect for Singapore because, just like Sungei Buloh, Singapore is just as rich in (diversity)," said Lim.
The first show in 2005 had its roots in a competition that a former volunteer, Daniel Tung, had intended to hold. In it, people with disabilities would submit poetry or song lyrics, to which volunteers would compose accompanying music.
But the endeavour was hit by many difficulties, so the show's founding producer, Jerry Siah, decided to expand the concept and allow people with disabilities to showcase their talents in various ways, be it singing, dancing or performing. Thus, A Nation In Concert was born.
In this year's show, the inhabitants of Sungei Buloh want to hold a variety concert, but three youngsters make excuses not to contribute. Trouble brews when a group of migratory birds arrive and plan to hold their own concert and a natural calamity strikes.
Lim said the performance is a "very layered" one.
"There are lots of themes. It's about accepting the differences of other people, and not judging, but trying to understand," he said.
firstname.lastname@example.org WHAT: A Nation In Concert, a 21/2 hour musical
WHERE: The Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
WHEN: Nov 8; there are two shows, one at 3pm and the other at 7.30pm
HOW MUCH: Tickets are priced from $35 to $100 and are available from Sistic.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the participating voluntary welfare organisations.
For more information, visit www.anationinconcert.com
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