a group of people wearing costumes

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For the first time in its 20-year history, Wild Rice staged its annual fundraising gala, the 19th edition of Rice Ball, as a virtual event over the weekend. One of the most highly anticipated and talked-about fundraising events of the Singapore social calendar went virtual. Last Saturday, the Rice Ball went live to 500 guests from Wild Rice’s performing arts complex in Funan. Guests tuned in from Singapore to Malaysia, Australia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Qatar and the United Kingdom. More than $660,000 was raised from table sales, donations and the evening’s silent auction. Parts of the amount will go towards new productions of the Singapore repertoire and interpretations of world classics. Some funds will be extended to the Wild Rice Academy and First Stage drama and training programmes to nurture young talents from the ages of five to 12. Further funds will be disbursed to its Singapore Youth Theatre to help develop and empower young people aged 13 to 17 through theatre and lastly to the Young & Wild programme to identify and develop Singapore’s young theatre professionals from the ages of 18 to 30. According to Ivan Heng, Founding Artistic Director of Wild Rice, “It was a huge risk for us to go virtual, because we had to struggle with and overcome the challenges of this brand-new digital medium. But we are always ready to push the envelope and rise to the challenge. And we’re so grateful to everyone – artists and audiences alike – who took a leap of faith with us as we moved the Rice Ball online this year”. Every Rice Ball is guaranteed to be fabulous, a little wild, with guests dressed to the nines according to the night’s theme. This year was appropriately titled Maskquerade! Several best dressed awards were given out to deserving guests. Meals concocted by some of Singapore’s finest chefs were delivered to the homes of each guest. These included culinary creations by Chef Julien Royer of Michelin-starred Odette; Chef Beppe De Vito of Braci; Chef Massimo Pasquerelli of the Ritz- Carlton, Millenia Singapore; Chef Ricky Ng of OPIO Kitchen & Bar; and Chef Teo Yeow Siang of Three Embers. For entertainment, there were musical numbers and comedy sketches performed by such theatre luminaries as Heng, Glen Goei, Pam Oei, Siti Khalijah Zainal, Benjamin Chow, Dwayne Lau, Audrey Luo and Andrew Marko, as well as a solo performance by actor-musician Benjamin Kheng. (All images: Wild Rice)

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