Apart from the furious pounding of feet as performers stormed the stage in a fight sequence with folklore hero Badang, full-time national serviceman (NSF) Chin Shao Ming, 20, could hardly tell what was going on as he waited for his turn in the show.
But a frisson of anticipation surged through the group of 200 "shield warriors" as they received a cue to prepare to enter the stage through four trapdoors - one of the unique features of yesterday's National Day Parade show.
As the battle above raged on, the trapdoor opened at Mr Chin's section of the stage. Two men pushed out a staircase for the shield warriors to access the stage, which was 2.5 m above ground.
A final cue was called, and Mr Chin led a pack of 50 warriors onstage, where they duelled with Badang under the dazzling lights of the stadium.
"The atmosphere below was quite different. But when the trapdoor opened, you could see the flashing lights and all the spectators in the stands, and I started to feel nervous," Mr Chin said.
"It's quite exciting, because the audience did not expect people to emerge from under the stage itself."
NSF Chia Xun Ming, 20, one of the show management ground personnel who passed on cues to the trapdoor operators, said coordination was key.
"We had four trapdoors that were supposed to open at the same time, so we needed to get the timing right. If not, it might not have looked good on stage," he said.
Safety was another concern.
Said Mr Chia: "We had to make sure that there were no people standing on the trapdoors when they were lowered. There were spotters on the stage who would help us to keep a look-out, and then the show caller would tell us when it was safe to open the doors."
Number of trapdoors under the stage from which performers could appear
Mr Chin said taking part in the first NDP at the refurbished National Stadium was a "once in a lifetime experience".
"It was a great feeling when we started running up to the stage, and heard everyone cheering. I'm honoured and happy that they chose me to lead this group of performers."