Hey there mate,
How are you? I'm sure you're doing fine, as you've always been.
Guess what? It finally ended. VBS, I mean.
Seemed just like yesterday we were prancing about with Clement in your living room, huh? And remember that sensational joke about oversleeping through the VBS graduation and receiving 28 missed calls? Haha. Now that's what I call scary.
Gotta confess something here. I had actually been concocting the storyline since March, solely during lonely drives home from office. Up to the time of your funeral, it was almost done and dusted. It was supposed to be a Teresa Teng-inspired musical. I think we spoke briefly about it in our final conversation.
Very hyped up, I was. This year around, I wisely snapped up the talented assistants two months ahead. Namely Joyce for choreography and Yee Ling for props. Hohoho. It doesn't get better than that. Even started approaching students for the lead roles.
But you know... things change. On the Sunday 18 hours before VBS, a few of us had our first in-depth discussion of the Teresa Teng-ey script. Conclusion was what I had been fearing and Joyce had been insinuating all along: Too much emotional build-up required for a VBS stage. In other words, it was very dangerously close to becoming boring.
So there and then, we brainstormed for an alternative script. Or rather, they threw ideas while my mental hands feebly grasped at straws. I was in a daze, to say the least.
It all started from one insight you shared with me last year.
"Hey Daniel... ever noticed how every year the leng luis are underused like crazy?"
I shared it with them and insisted that I wanted prominent roles for the girls. More so since I expected extra girls than boys this year.
First came the idea of a group of missionaries landing on an all-woman island. Seemed like a riot at first, but I somehow imagined this more suited for the Chinese class. So I unselfishly passed it to Chi Yuan and his definite superstar Karlson.
Then it appeared. "How about Snow Brown and the seven dwarfs? With gender reversed roles!"
At first, I was totally clueless where such a story could go. It sounded more like a joke than a proper story.
But it would have to do. I had only 72 hours to put the script to paper.
Everything fell into place during Monday lunch. I deliberately sneaked out to eat on my own. There it all came to life - the pseudo-Japanese-speaking ninja, the stone-faced translator, the vain stepfather, the handsome Snow Brown, the magic mirror, the seven lengluis and their funny names.
Unfortunately, I didn't manage to type out the script even by Wednesday morning (the first day of my leave). Worse still, I had TWO other jobs to complete within the same day. But you know what pressure does for me - skipped VBS in the morning, flew through one job and spewed out the entire script with jokes on-the-spot. Seriously, I was hearing voices in my head whispering lame dialogue.
The students were great this year! Very independent and gung-ho. This guy Jonathan, who played the translator to hilarious effect, even went home and improvised two options for his brief scene. And they were quality options, trust me!
A smaller class this year meant more time working with them, and less trying to keep them under control. *shudders under visions of Austin with a football* Joyce took charge of the girls and their one dance scene, which turned out quite the show-stealer.
So capable and motivated were the students that by Day Two, everything was almost fully rehearsed. Day Three was spent practising with music, waiting for the girls to finish their handwork and putting the final touches to their choreography.
Saturday rehearsal was not bad actually, but I slightly lost my temper at the PA guys for fumbling up the music. Perhaps that's the best indicator of how passionate you are for something.
And Sunday oh Sunday, the longest day of my life. I was both songleading and emceeing the ceremony as well. And to make things worse, my computer just had to choose the night before to die.
Woke up, or rather decided that I couldn't sleep, at 6.30am. Managed to jot down a list of things to do for the day and some emcee ideas before rushing off to Sunday School. Another round of thanks to Joyce who actually chose and arranged the songs for our songleading later. Guess I owe her... er, two.
And Jeffrey was right. I was having major butterflies in the stomach.
Sometimes, you know how things will turn out exactly. But that doesn't make the journey any more wonderful. As the crowd cheered for the day's final performance by Inter English, as the actors delivered their lines to side-splitting laughter, as the actresses danced to rapturous applause, as the songs were played out perfectly, as the students took their final bow, you knew something special was in the air.
Was it you? I could almost swear I saw you smiling and clapping along in the front row.
They're saying that there will be a revamp of VBS next year onwards. No more presentations. Could be a good thing. But hey, if this is to be our final VBS presentation ever, no regrets man.
It has been a year like no other. Look where we ended up. But the highest high will always be worth all the lows combined.
P.S. Sorry I ended up not dedicating the performance to you. Was dead set on it till the change to a 100% comedy script. Was afraid it would damper the mood. But I personally dedicated it you. =)
Till next time,