How do you squeeze Singapore's many stories into a three-hour extravaganza? Well, you can't, which is why this year's National Day Parade (NDP) will stretch for 25 minutes longer than its normal three hours.
The show committee chairman, Colonel David Chua, said yesterday that his team tried to keep the show as concise as possible, but "there are just so many extraordinary stories about everyday Singaporeans".
But organisers are confident that the audience will be kept entertained throughout the show, which will play out this year's NDP theme "Many Stories... One Singapore".
To give the pre- parade a carnival feel, parade-goers can get their faces painted, see balloons sculpted, and look out for "kacang puteh" men giving away packets of nuts. The pre-parade will also include more ways to involve the audience, such as question and answer segments, before the parade kicks off the show's nine segments.
Instead of the usual mass displays that come next, this year's celebrations at the Marina Bay Floating Platform will be played out as a variety show, with plenty of stars, skits and humour.
Among the familiar personalities are Moses Lim and Koh Chieng Mun, who will perform as their characters from the popular sitcom Under One Roof.
The show's four hosts, Mr Gurmit Singh, Ms Siti Khalijah, Mr Sebastian Tan and Ms Vernetta Lopez, will perform in a skit that tells the stories of those who helped build Singapore, such as the Samsui women. Mr Singh will have an extra role as the Merlion's voice in a multimedia light show.
Stories of neighbourhoods such as Katong, Chinatown and Queenstown will be captured through song. A group of children will tell the tales of Bukit Merah and Sang Nila Utama, with the help of a human LED screen formed by 800 individuals from the Singapore Soka Association.
"A variety show allows us to look into different aspects of Singapore life... and so the only way to showcase them really was to have a little burst of everything, so that everybody could be included," added Ms Selena Tan, the show's creative director, during an NDP media event yesterday.
Ms Tan, who is best known for being one of the Dim Sum Dollies and for her stand-up comedies, said that the audience can expect plenty of humour. She said she is still thinking of more jokes to put into the show on Aug 9.
For the first time, Team Singapore athletes will be performing at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. Another feature will be the extreme sportsmen who will do bike and skateboard stunts. Over 5,000 people are expected to perform at the celebration of the nation's 48th birthday.
The National Day song, usually performed by local artists, will for the first time be sung by a choir made up of 68 ordinary Singaporeans.
Secondary 3 student Ruth Mathews, 15, who is among them, said that it has been an "amazing" experience so far. "I will give it my best, like the celebrities who have been on stage to sing the theme song before me."