Performing Arts |
Into the Woods Jr. : A Modern Twist to Beloved Fairytale Characters
Graeme Naftel, Head of Junior School
AISM recently presented ‘Into The Woods’, a musical by American composer Stephen Sondheim to a sold-out crowd for 3 consecutive nights from 19 July to 21 July. The School also hosted the Chin Students Organisation (CSO) refugee school, homeschooling centres and local schools in separate matinee shows. The students all loved the opportunities to see such a professional production.
The musical was double-casted, which gave the opportunity for more students to participate and benefit from being involved in a large-scale musical, in line with the School’s inclusive education philosophy.
“Every child has equal opportunity to excel. Students who may not be exceptional at acting and singing, but have potential are given a chance to be in the musical. We teach our students to have a go, to try and not be afraid to fail, which is what an Australian education is about,” says Head of Whole School Arts, Ms Eryn Grady.
“The double-casting was no easy feat, since it meant we had to train twice as many students and double the amount of work for costumes, make up and more. Being inclusive is important for the Arts,” she adds.
Kiesha Venga played the role of Red Riding Hood in the main cast and expressed the bewilderment, the joy and anguish of the character extremely well. ‘At first, I studied the character of Red Riding Hood from the movie itself. Throughout our 6 months of rehearsing, our teachers constantly gave us feedback on how to improve and perfect our roles, which made it much easier for us to bring our characters to life’, she says.
Lomani Ritchie, who played Red Riding Hood during the matinee shows, shared how she enjoyed being part of the production. “I was always nervous about performing on stage, but this role has given me a boost of confidence and now, I would like to take on different roles in the future.”
About the Musical
The musical tells the story of a childless baker and his wife who go on a quest to begin a family; how they interact with a witch who places a curse on them, and how other loved fairytale characters including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood intersect with their journey. The play boasts beautiful songs and light-hearted humour which keeps the audience enthralled until the very end. The stage set up, complete with giant trees and two towers, one of which was used by Rapunzel, casts an amazing backdrop for the musical.
Hollie Manders-Jones, who played the witch, gave an unforgettable performance with her evil laugh and high-pitched voice. “I loved playing this character because it is a somewhat comedic role, so I was able to go a little over-the-top with my actions and singing. Plus it was the only transformational character which gave the musical a ‘wow’ factor in the end. Performing Arts is not one of my strengths, but my interest in musical theatre has definitely heightened by being involved in this production,” said Hollie.
Another crowd favourite and memorable character was the Wolf, played by Syafiq Ibrahim. He was exceptional in his delivery of the quirky and cunning wolf who tries to manipulate Red Riding Hood. “I’ve participated in two other productions in AISM, and enjoy the feeling of performing on stage, and especially in this singing role. These experiences allowed me to work with my peers outside a classroom setting, which made it an overall great learning experience for all of us,” explained Syafiq.
Costume Design by AISM’s very own student, Kai Morley
But, apart from incredible acting and singing skills, the highlight of the musical had to be the beautiful costumes which were designed and created by Kai Morley, a Year 11 student of the School with the help of teachers and parent volunteers.
Starting in 2013, Kai has been involved in fashion shows and productions in Australia. She was one of the finalists in the ‘Seams of New Era Charity Show’, in Hong Kong with 19 pieces showcased during the opening of the show. Kai also has her own label, ‘Kai Kavan’, which she hopes to further develop when she completes her education. More recently, Kai has lent vast expertise to the School’s Performing Arts Department for its various productions.
AISM takes great pride in providing all students with diverse and holistic opportunities throughout their student life. The performing arts plays a major part in learning in the School, through Drama lessons and Co-Curricular Activities. Encouraging creativity, communications and collaboration skills, the School prepares its students with these essential skills for success in the 21st century.
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