Personal stories and freefalling naval combat divers to feature in this year's NDP show

This year's National Day Parade creative director Boo Junfeng and one of the main characters in the integrated film, Madam Mary Klass, 83. ST PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Spectacular lights and sounds, brilliant bursts of fireworks and catchy melodies have been familiar staples in past National Day Parades (NDPs).

But for this year's creative director Boo Junfeng, the show will not just be a spectacle but also an introspective look into the lives of Singaporeans who have overcome adversity.

The award-winning film-maker will tell the stories of five Singaporeans across different generations. This will be done through an integrated film and mass-display performance featuring more than 3,300 participants across three acts.

"It really is about how we can look at the personal. Unity is also about our own experiences as human beings and the challenges we face every day," said Mr Boo at an NDP media showcase on Wednesday (July 4). "These are things that bond us."

One of the main characters of the film is Madam Mary Klass, 83, who overcame her father's opposition to represent Singapore in athletics at the 1956 Olympics.

"These are experiences that are still happening today with anyone who has ambitions but is facing obstacles... there's a timelessness to what the stories are about," said Mr Boo.

Overcoming personal challenges is a theme that strikes home for Ms Yeo Bee Loon, 40, the main choreographer for the Act 3 dance presented by about 650 volunteers from the Singapore Soka Association.

Amid her gruelling NDP rehearsal schedule which takes up five days a week, she has to care for her 76-year-old father who has Stage 4 lymph node cancer.

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"The theme of the act - Our Spirit, Our Strength - really resonates with me," said Ms Yeo, who is married with a seven-year-old daughter.

Mr Boo, 34, is the youngest NDP creative director and the first full-time film-maker in the role. His psychological drama Apprentice won the top accolade, the Grand Prix (Grand Prize), at the Fribourg International Film Festival last year. Previous creative directors include singer Dick Lee and theatre veteran Beatrice Chia-Richmond.

The 10-minute NDP film will be weaved into the parade acts on a state-of-the-art swivelling projection screen.

The stage design is part of a spectacle which promises much for the nation's 53rd birthday on Aug 9.

The Red Lions, a perennial highlight, will be jumping from higher than ever at 12,500 feet (3,800m). In a first, they will be joined by the Naval Combat Divers freefalling into the waters next to the Marina Bay Floating Platform from 6,000 feet.

Also featured are a water procession of boats and floats around the Marina Bay and the return of beloved mascots such as Sharity Elephant and Water Wally.

Colonel Goh Pei Ming, chairman of the NDP show committee, said: "This year's show will be exciting, engaging and emotive, and we hope to inspire Singaporeans out there."

Correction note: The article has been edited to reflect Ms Yeo Bee Loon's name. We are sorry for the error.

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