I do not envy the task facing the organising committee of this year's National Day Parade (NDP) one bit. Because after the wonderful - some might say the best NDP ever - SG50 show we had last year, how does one possibly outdo it in this SG51 NDP?
The short answer is, it does not.
Cleverly enough, it steers clear from the usual over-the-top and stretchy sing and dance numbers and most importantly, it does not retell the all-too-familiar stories of Sang Nila Utama or Sir Stamford Raffles that has been rehashed to death in previous NDP editions.
Instead, since this year's National Day marks a homecoming to the new National Stadium at the Sports Hub, the show makes full use of the Stadium’s high-domed roof through the suspension of giant props and integrating the use of lasers, light and sound.
Of course, the constraints of staging the NDP at the National Stadium meant that the usual crowd favourites of Red Lions, fighter jets zooming in the sky and the military mobile column were absent this time around. Even for the fly-past and finale fireworks, we could only catch a mere glimpse of them from inside the stadium.
Fortunately, this year's NDP had quite a few tricks and surprises up its sleeve... which wowed us by the time the show ended.
Just ask Ale, who was perhaps the most enthusiastic NDP audience member of the lot.
Or the crowd, who was all pumped up and did not want the Kallang Wave to stop even though the segment was done. I think the Kallang Wave went 5 or 6 times around the stadium for the record!
The first surprise of the night belonged to Badang and the Singapore Stone.
Instead of retelling the same old fishing-village story, Act 1 of the show is based on the legend surrounding the Singapore Stone. Legend has it Badang, a village fisherman, defeated a water ghost and gained super strength. He later became the sultan’s royal guard and lifted a giant boulder that sat on a hill for centuries. A fragment from it is now called the Singapore Stone.
And yes, that stone is REAL and is currently displayed in the National Museum. However, it is inscribed with words from an ancient language that nobody is able to decipher it up til today.
Another cool edition to this year's NDP is every spectator will be issued with an LED wristband that can be synchronised with the show,
Each wristband is wirelessly programmed to blink in tandem with the show’s lights and sounds, and capable of emitting lights of varying intensity in 16 colours and four modes.
And we had the first taste of the lights during Act 2, where 4 aerial performers dressed in 8m-long culturally inspired costumes performed next as a tribute to the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western civilisations that were the forefathers of our nation.
But the true magical nature of the wristbands were fully felt in Act 3, where the blinking lights combined to form a sea of rainbow-coloured lights that accompanied a beautiful aerial and automated unicorn. Very mersmerizing... and one of Ale's fave segment!
In Act 4, we were taken on a trip to the future by dancers dressed in brightly-lit LED costumes. Putting together an energetic dance routine complemented by pulsating music and light displays, it came complete with ninebot machines and eight unmanned systems comprising drones tethered to unmanned ground vehicles!
But that was not the most amazing bit - having 20 performers executing front and back flips and dancing while being suspended 10 to 12m up in the air was.
Act 5 featured a breathtaking Sky City prop which is a massive display six storeys high and hoisted in the air. Using 3D projections, the display is made up of 15 iconic buildings. such as the Changi Airport, and the cloud forest and flower domes of the Gardens by the Bay.
Personally, I loved the final act best. Comprising of 420 performers from the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) wearing specially-designed skirts, they flipped their skirts to create mass displays of images.
These images are adapted from hand-painted artworks by the special needs community.
A nice touch to the show was the addition of a song signing segment - a first for NDP - which highlights the importance of an inclusive and caring nation.
Joined by over 150 special needs participants from seven Voluntary Welfare Organisations on stage, they will lead the audience in the segment to hand-sign popular NDP songs like Home and Count on Me, Singapore.
You can learn it too from the video below!
And of course, the finale is all about fireworks. This year's NDP is also the first to feature an indoor fireworks display!
Complete with lasers, flame projections and 3D projection mapping (the Sky City turned into a giant tree!), I am glad this year's NDP had not fallen back on past years' tried and tested formulas but instead, tried to break new ground.
I loved how past stories and technology were cleverly blended together to put together a refreshing show that holds plenty of first-time surprises. Tomorrow's definitely here today.
This year's Funpack is made of translucent plastic for the first time, Waterproof and lightweight, the bag has multiple straps so it can be carried as both a sling bag and haversack. Funpack items include a luggage tag, a flip fan, stick-on tattoos, snacks, a Singapore scarf and a discount booklet.
Congratulations to the following 2 winners! You have each won a NDP 2016 Funpack!
1. Eunice Lek
2. Irene Bong
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 August 2016 for prize collection details. Thanks!