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Poly musical is charity drive's big-bang finale

Idol-style production to feature 20 new numbers penned by top S'pore songwriter

Yap Su-Yin
The Straits Times
30 Sep 2006
(c) 2006 Singapore Press Holdings Limited


HOMEGROWN singer-songwriter Jimmy Ye's works have been belted out by Hong Kong superstars like Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Jackie Cheung and the late Anita Mui at sell-out concerts.

Next weekend though, 20 of his newly penned numbers will be given voice by students of the Singapore Polytechnic in an original full-length musical - for charity.

Ye is the creative hand behind Superstar, the two-hour production which will cap the President's Challenge - the annual fund-raising drive initiated by President S R Nathan.

Mr and Mrs Nathan will be the guests of honour at the opening night this Friday at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre.

Superstar, loosely based on the human drama behind a singing competition like Singapore Idol, is the first musical Ye has penned since his return to Singapore last year, after two years in New York.

The former lawyer now teaches music and audio technology at the polytechnic.

He said of the storyline, which he wrote: 'It's about how teenagers hope to be discovered as singers and make it big.'

Emoting the highs and lows of being in a singing contest will cut close to home for some of the 50-strong cast - a few were actually Singapore Idol hopefuls this year or in the 2004 round.

Said Ye: 'So some have had first-hand experience of being in such a competition - and being rejected.'

As in Idol, Superstar contestants with the fewest SMS votes are booted out, so the musical explores the tussle between friendship and rivalry.

Says Ye: 'The contestants seem to be great friends. But if someone does not get kicked out, how can the winner emerge?

'So, does competition or friendship come first?'

His musical will mimic Singapore Idol in that the audience will be asked to vote for one of the four lead characters as the winner of the Superstar contest.

'Each run of the musical might have a different ending,' said Ye.

The musical's theme cuts close to home because two of the polytechnic's alumni have aced real-life talent quests: Taufik Batisah was Singapore's first Idol, while Kelly Poon emerged as first runner-up in Project Superstar, a televised Chinese singing contest in which viewers' votes decided the winner.
Poon will make a cameo appearance in the musical.

The cast and crew - drawn from alumni, polytechnic staff and current students - have been working on the musical for nearly a year.

While Ye worked on the music, his colleague Jeanine Lim, who teaches script-writing, scripted the scenes and dialogue. The 12-piece band comprises the polytechnic's musical and IT talents.

Architecture and design students helped with the sets; the costumes were made by the school or borrowed from students' wardrobes.

The production started out as a school event to raise funds for charity, but grew to become the big-bang finish for this year's President's Challenge, which hopes to raise $8 million for 49 charities this year.

Superstar hopes to attract about 3,400 people over its two-night run.

'It's all hands on deck for the final countdown,' said Ye.

Tickets are available from Sistic. All proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the President's Challenge. To make a direct donation, call 1900-112- 1008.


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