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Making the Grade


Making the Grade

by Kenneth Lyen

I am absolutely ecstatic tonight!

My 13th musical had its premiere tonight, Wednesday 28th July 2004. It is called "Making The Grade", and was specially written for an all girl’s school, the Methodist Girl’s School, Singapore. The story is an original one, and centres around an overly strict disciplinarian teacher and her rebellious students who are particularly difficult to handle.

The book and lyrics were written by Ng Swee San. I wrote the songs together with my co-composer, Karen Lim who also helped craft the lyrics. The music was arranged and directed by Bang Wenfu. The director was Lim Yu-Beng who also helped develop the story line. The choreographer was Richard Chia. The producer was also a teacher from the school, Natalie Lim.

The all female cast were really talented in singing, acting and dancing. They were ably supported by the school orchestra. The girls captivated the audience for nearly 2 hours, and the screams and applause at the end were rapturous, thunderous and neverending.

It is one of the strongest and most inspiring musicals that I’ve been involved in. I’m so proud of the entire team. They pulled it off with pizazz. They made the grade!

Hi Ken,

Thanks for inviting me today to Making The Grade.

I must admit that this is, by far, the best musical I've watched, in which you've been involved in.

The musical succeeded on many fronts: the universal themes of family love, justice and inner beauty resonated throughout the two hours; the score was stirring and thematic; also, the arrangement ensured that a certain upbeat momentum was consistently maintained.

For a moment, I had to double-check with myself that I was watching a secondary school production. So with all credits due, I must congratulate the team on a a brilliant piece of teamwork.

I confess that although at the end, I was moved by the last song and started tearing up.

I still prefer style to substance. Sorry.    Nonetheless - congratulations!

Guan (undergraduate, Columbia University, New York)

Hey Ken
My family enjoyed the muscial very much. And a very rousing finale item you put together. Well done. By keeping the words simple, the lyrics resonate above the music.

Again, a wonderful event you have orchestrated.


Chet (Events Manager and Screenwriter)

Dear Ken

Making The Grade is certainly a great production overall, and considering they are students, the performances of the girls is nothing short of brilliant


Tze (Professional Musician)

Hi Ken,

Thank you so much. Your melodies are as equally important in helping to shape the final outcome of my arrangements, and of course, the musicians themselves are the most amazing people I've ever worked with. Without their peseverence and conviction, it wouldn't have pulled off. Their sheer hard work just put paid to the wonderful sounds they've been creating consistently for the last two weeks.

Wenfu (Music Arranger and Director)

Hi Ken,

One word summarises it all: "Amazing!"

Mike (Sound Engineer and Music Arranger)

Dear Ken,

Making the Grade was really fantastic! You and Karen wrote lots of great tunes for this and the band did a great job, don't you think? I thought the band was Wenfu's band, but then I found out it was the MGS band!! Wow! & I really love the 3 girls' voices.....Anita, Nora and Julia! Great talent and potential! If I had a record company, I'd sign Anita straight away! hahah.... as a school performance, the teacher’s singing is fantastic!

And I really love the lights....especially the sunset background and the plane-zooming-past scene! The finale song was superb...that could go as a theme song for the National Day Parade!!!

A remarkable performance by a fine team of musicians and very talented young actresses! This got to be the best musical presented by any school yet. The combination of wonderful tunes, supported by an outstanding band, quality lightings, great singing and acting wowed the audience and everyone was loving it! Congratulations!

Sean (Director, Ig’s Heaven)

What a wonderful show! My friends were very impressed and could not believe that the entire cast (save Yu-Beng) were students! The casting was marvellous. The principal, Mei, Mei's mother, Anita, Nora, Ying and Julia, all looked the part. Almost everyone I spoke to said it is the best school performance they have ever seen. It certainly looked very professional. The set design, lighting and sound were all very well done. The singing and acting were incredibly powerful. To see so much talent on one stage was humbling.

Thank you Suraya and Fran for stage managing so efficiently
Thank you Ju Meng for the splendid set designs
Thank you Suven and Shah for the brilliant lighting and sound
Thank you Richard for wonderful choreography
Thank you Wen-fu for the superb music arrangement
Thank you Karen and Kenneth for the engaging, beautiful music
Thank you Karen for tweaking the lyrics to make them sound good
Thank you Kenneth for asking me to be a part of this
Thank you Yu-Beng for superb casting and marvellous direction
Thank you Natalie for your patience with the numerous drafts, and for your dedication to the girls and to this project
Thank you Miss Kon and MGS for this joyous voyage of discovery

And most importantly of all, thank you to the cast and backstage crew. You deserve the biggest applause of all. I am proud to be from the same school as such a dedicated, talented bunch. Natalie, please convey my admiration to the girls.

Swee San (Writer)
Hi Kenneth,

I think what touched me most of all was the obvious enthusiam and energy of all those who were involved. It was one of the best non-professional performances I have seen.

I think the students were also lucky to have a bunch of seasoned musical practioners like yourself and your creative team to guide them along the way.

Jack (Music Teacher)