Sister Marie Therese, played by Winnie Foo (third from left), snatches a holy picture from Bernadette (played by Sarah Chong).

SINGAPORE – The familiar melody of Village People’s hit song Y.M.C.A. filled the entire auditorium of the Singapore Conference Hall as the cast and crew of the musical The Song of Bernadette gathered on stage for the grand finale to sing:

“It’s great to be part of St. Bernadette… It’s great to be part of St. Bernadette…”

The lyrics of Y.M.C.A and many other hit pop songs such as The Phantom of the Opera and When You Believe had been re-written for The Song of Bernadette which saw a total of 1,700 attendees for its one-day only afternoon and evening performances on Sun Aug 30.

The musical briefly charts the story of St. Bernadette’s life as a teenager before and after her encounter with the apparitions of Our Lady at Massabielle, Lourdes, to her joining the convent as a religious and finally her death of tuberculosis of the knee.

(Right) A scene of St. Bernadette praying. Photos by Yovita Sutikno

The musical depicts the simplicity of the saint and her steadfastness to her faith despite her family’s poverty, the scepticism and opposition she faced over her visions of Our Lady, and the dislike of Sister Marie Therese who treated Bernadette cruelly.

The highlight of the musical for Mrs Sandra Yap, 58, was when Sister Marie Therese who had been jealous of Bernadette’s visions, repented and asked for Bernadette’s forgiveness when Sister Marie Therese finally came to realise that Bernadette was very ill and was not out to seek for attention as she had thought.

Mrs Teresa Wright, another parishioner, found the musical to be “very professional”. “I found it touching. The acting out of the life of St. Bernadette made it very real,” she said.

She added, “How St. Bernadette endures and carries her cross graciously inspires me to do the same because we all have our crosses to carry in our lives and we must carry them graciously.”

Meanwhile Father Patrick Goh, the former parish priest, who attended the musical said, “It’s good. A lot of effort has gone into it. The cast deserves to be congratulated.”

Winnie Foo, 40s, who played Sister Marie Therese, credits the success of the production to the cast and crew efforts and everyone’s prayers and intercessions. “To get everything to come together is a blessing from God,” she said.

As for the cast and crew, they will miss each other having spent the last five months rehearsing and interacting with one another on Saturdays.

Sarah Chong, 17, who played the saint, was a picture of joy and vivacity despite completing two performances and needing to catch a flight the next day. “I’m still high. I feel that the musical is something I’ll never forget. Everyone did their part well. I’m sad that it’s over. I’ll miss them.”

Monique Natahusada, 39, producer and director, thanked the cast and crew for their good work and professionalism. She was touched by the many positive responses and warmth reception from the audience to the musical despite being inconvenienced by some technical glitches during the performance. She hopes that everybody would be “grateful and thankful to God” whenever they recollect the musical.

At the same time, Mrs Natahusada wishes to convey her apologies to the audience over the technical glitches in the sound system causing the dialogue and singing to be inaudible during the performance and thanked them for their kind understanding.

“St. Bernadette speaks to us about loving God despite all the problems in life. You have to always be close to God and remember to ask Mother Mary for her intercessions,” Mrs Natahusada said.

By Darren Boon
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