The Creative Team Behind Marina Bay Singapore Countdown

Ever wonder what goes behind the making of the Countdown? Well, we spoke to Ms Michelle Yeo, who is part of the Creative Team behind the Countdown, to learn what goes behind planning such a mega event!

Ms Michelle Yeo

RxR Magazine: How long have you been with Esplanade?

Michelle: 14 years 4 months.

RxR Magazine: How many years have you been involved in MBSC and what role do you perform?

Michelle: 8 years and this is my 9th and final year.

For the last 8 years, I worked with a Countdown team to oversee every aspect of what it takes to put the entire event together. This includes my colleagues from every department and they in turn, lead close to a total of 2500 people covering areas of production, security both on land and in the bay, customer service, first aid, engineering, cleaning and landscaping, catering, IT, marketing and communications, sponsorship. We also work very closely with government agencies and stakeholders as well as they too play a big part in this event.

In addition, I worked closely with the Countdown’s artistic director, our CEO Benson Puah who helms the artistic team. Together with Benson, I’ve also had the privilege to work with the late Iskandar Ismail who composed the fireworks music, the fireworks choreographer, Ronnie Wee and the lighting designers.

RxR Magazine: What do you like about programming ?

Michelle: I love that there is something new, something different and always something to learn. I don’t think I can ever say that I will know everything after having done countless productions in my career in the performing arts. I get a kick out of the entire process of putting things together; that is, where it all starts… an idea, a blank page, how things evolve and grow. The most wonderful part is that everyone is of the same mind to want to make things work, that we are there first and foremost for the purpose to serve – the art, the artists and the audience. I always thought that if I can make one person happy with a performance, I think it’s enough.

RxR Magazine: What are some of the most memorable shows/events you were involved in?

Michelle: When I look back on the performances I’ve worked on, I have to admit I cannot think of any one most memorable show but I can say what is most memorable for me for every performance I did. It’s watching the artists and audience enjoy themselves, it’s watching them leave with smiles on their faces. These are, to me, very special moments.

RxR Magazine: What do you feel are the most important elements in producing a quality event/show?

Michelle: The want to collaborate (and work together), trust and sincerity.

RxR Magazine: Could you share with us what you found most difficult and most rewarding about programming this massive event?

Michelle: Perhaps, I’ll start with the most rewarding about the Countdown - that last burst of fireworks when I can hear everyone around the bay welcome the New Year with this tremendous cheer. It’s a great feeling.

Most difficult? I cannot say that there have been difficult situations. I see them as being more challenging than anything else; still, something that can always be overcome. However, if I’m asked this question after my 1st year, and from a programmer who had never programmed for even Esplanade’s Outdoor Theatre; let alone, tasked with this huge event, it was trying to understand how all the elements work in a terribly short period of time. Yet, I’d still think it was more of a “most frightening” than a “most difficult”.

If I may share something personal… what is difficult for me every year, is not being able to spend New Year’s Eve and first day of each new year with my family especially my parents. I have not done so from the time I joined Esplanade. I’m blessed with a family that is very supportive of my work at Esplanade including this Countdown. In all the years I’ve done the Countdown, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve yet to place a wishing sphere in the bay. This year, I definitely will and my wish is for my parents to be at Esplanade for my last Countdown.

(Left to right): Esplanade Programmers Michelle Lee and Ye JunMin, Fireworks Choreographer Ronnie Wee,
Esplande Producer Michelle Yeo, Musician Gabriel Chan, Esplanade Senior Technician Ismahadie Putra Ishak,
Esplanade Technical Manager Heryadi Mohd Yusof and Composer Riduan Zalani.

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