SINGAPORE - Young talent took to the stage on Friday (Nov 24) night to raise more than $2.1 million at the 13th edition of the annual charity concert ChildAid.
More than 190 performers aged five to 18 dazzled an audience of 1,325 at Resorts World Theatre with martial arts, Bollywood dance and more in the concert, organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times.
The 90-minute show, An Amazing Awesome Asian Adventure, is the first ChildAid concert since its inception in 2005 to feature a narrative arc that links the different acts.
It follows the journey of four children whose dream masks are stolen by a witch. To get back their masks, they follow clues given by an imp, which lead them on a whirlwind adventure through Asia.
The four lead roles were played by Gisele Chiam and Emiliano Cyrus, both nine, and Neo Le Yang and Lilo Baier, both 11.
Mr Helmi Yusof, co-organising chairman of ChildAid, described the 13-year-old concert as "a teenager eager to shed the last traces of childhood and come into his or her own".
"ChildAid 2017 has successfully made the transition from a pure concert to a narrative musical format, and will hopefully continue to find new ways of expression from here on," said the arts correspondent for The Business Times.
Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, was the concert's guest-of-honour.
At a pre-show reception, he mingled with representatives from ChildAid's corporate sponsors Citi Singapore, HSBC and United Overseas Bank (UOB), each of which donated $500,000 and more, as well as Suntory Beverage & Food Asia, which donated $100,000. Resorts World Sentosa was the official venue partner.
This brings the collective amount raised by ChildAid over the years to more than $16 million.
The funds raised will go to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BTBAF). The former pays for socially disadvantaged school-going children's meals and transport fees, while the latter supports financially disadvantaged children's lessons in the performing arts.
HSBC group general manager and Singapore chief executive Tony Cripps said: "Education, including the developing of future skills, is one of our three priorities, which is why we are pleased to partner with STSPMF and BTBAF in the development of creativity amongst Singapore's youth."
Mr Amol Gupte, Citi's Head of Asean and chief executive of Citi Singapore, said: "We believe in the cause because it makes a difference to disadvantaged young people in our community. It also signals our commitment to serve as a catalyst to enable progress in every country where we do business."
UOB deputy chairman and chief executive Wee Ee Cheong added: "We are heartened to be able to play a part in cultivating the dreams of our young through supporting ChildAid, which is aligned with UOB's long-term commitment towards supporting art, children and education."
Helming the show as artistic director for the first time was acclaimed singer-songwriter and Cultural Medallion recipient Dick Lee. The show was produced by creative consultancy company Dick Lee Asia.
The concert's performers ranged from the very young - Megan Phuan, five, and Jair Chan, six, who played a piano duet, Rice Rice Baby Medley - to those in their late teens. Dancers Xindan Fu and Nigel Tan, both 18 - the oldest in the group - broke out their Korean dance moves to the K-pop song Not Today.
Singapore-born, Melbourne-based singer Natalie Ong, who was one of the finalists on The X Factor Australia last year, guest-starred in the show as the witch. "She's not your average witch," hinted the 16-year-old. "There will be a twist."
She added: "I'm really privileged to be part of this amazing cause. I've been having so much fun and made many new friends."
For 14-year-old Nur Amirah Rohaizad, singing in the ChildAid choir has been "quite a journey - I'm nervous and excited".
Since last year, the Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School student has been part of the youth programme at arts training centre 10 Square, supported by BTBAF.
Not only has it taught the aspiring singer and dancer about different genres of art, but she has also learnt about behind-the-scenes arts management and hopes to do more of this in the future.
"Even after I graduate from 10 Square, I want to come back and help out backstage and be a teacher to the younger kids," she says.
The show runs for another night on Saturday (Nov 25) at 7.30pm.