New Kids on the Block

Hang out in the foyer of the Drama Centre Theatre after a performance of The Emperor’s New Clothes, and you might get to witness the livewire energy that powers Rizq Anaqi bin Suhaimi and Nadim Sazwan bin Salam for yourself.
Rizq (left) and Nadim spread some Christmas cheer!

After a gruelling two-show day, the two young performers aren’t slowing down one bit. They chase each other across the room, laughing and taking photographs with their friends in the FIRST STAGE! cast. When a familiar tune spills from the speakers, Rizq and Nadim promptly break out their crowd-pleasing dance routine from the show.

The two boys, both aged 10, are making their stage debuts in a variety of roles in The Emperor’s New Clothes. But anyone who’s seen the show will chiefly remember them as the younger versions of Khai and Nate, the tailors played by Sezairi and Benjamin Kheng.

In Make It Rain, a memorable song-and-dance sequence, Rizq and Nadim do a little softshoe in perfect sync with their “idols” – a term the boys use in reference to all the adults they’re working with in the show.

Seeing double: Khai, Nate and their younger selves!

Rizq and Nadim were recruited out of dance school by the show’s choreographers, Hafeez Hassan and Gino Flordeliza Babagay.

“They were teaching us in school, and asked us to be part of this show,” explains Rizq.

“A big show with a lot of kids!” Nadim chimes in.

The two boys share an easy friendship and chemistry that’s evident from the way they respond to questions in unison and complete each other’s sentences.

Performing in The Emperor’s New Clothes is a completely new experience for both boys. While they have performed to larger audiences on Mediacorp’s The Dance Floor, this is the first time Rizq and Nadim have been called upon to act and sing, as well as dance, on stage.

“That’s a new thing for me,” confesses Rizq, “to do all those things at the same time! Normally, we only dance!”

But both boys clearly relish the challenge. To prepare for the show, they studied the script and rehearsed their lines with each other, sometimes seeking help from the adult actors in the cast.

Their hard work has paid off. “Our parents are so proud of us!” Nadim beams.

Strike a pose!

They’ve had to get used to the rigours of staging a show as big as The Emperor’s New Clothes. Tech week, during which the production moves into the theatre and days are spent on technical adjustments, was especially trying.

“It was very boring, because they kept stopping!” laments Rizq. “We had to sit and wait until they called us, when we could change into costumes and go on stage. We had to be very serious.”

But it wasn’t just all work and no play. The boys have made firm friends amongst the FIRST STAGE! Kids.

“We have a ‘Lepak Crew’,” Nadim explains mischievously.

“‘Lepak’ means ‘relax’!” interjects Rizq.

“During dinner time, the other kids play Minecraft or talk… but we like to sit by the side and lepak… or sleep!” laughs Nadim.

It’s evident that Rizq and Nadim have enormously enjoyed their experience on The Emperor’s New Clothes. When asked whether they want to keep acting, they exclaim in perfect unison, “Yes!”

“Performing in the pantomime is like a dream come true!” proclaims Nadim. “It’s so fun to get to show off our talent on stage!”

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