Since November, the fellows at Yali and I have been working at putting together a major English musical here starring the kids. Auditions, choreography, blocking, music rehearsals, costumes, set, props, mics, run-throughs after run-throughs, advertisements, ticket sales, and much more--I never really knew how much work and thought has to be put in before something of the like could be put on!
Rafiki, getting ready to open the show.
Anyway, after months and months of tedious preparation and of wrangling the kiddies to come on time to rehearsals (or just to show up), the curtains opened last Thursday to great fanfare. Rafiki belted out "Circle of Life" and the animals of the savannah chanted beautifully behind her (okay okay, so they were a little off key). The show was under way.
Auntie Scar in "Be Prepared!"
Admittedly, both shows had some problems. The music in the first show did not play correctly, and the second show was cursed with mics fading in and out. However, the kiddies responded unflinchingly--they continued to sing their hearts out, listening for signals in the songs to find their places, and when mics failed to work, they just amplified and projected their voices. In the end, these issues were... non-issues.
The two performances, I hope, will be remembered for the energy, excitement, and flair that each actor and actress brought in, for the impeccable English by the students with speaking roles, and just as importantly as the former two, for the unique and quirky qualities they gave their characters. Without exaggeration or biase, I have to say that our Auntie Scar's performance was Tony-worthy. Okay, maybe some biase, but she really did bring the house down.
The audience--consisting of school officials, teachers, friends of the fellows, other Yale-China fellows, and the students' classmates, and random local townies--seemed to love it, and glowing reviews poured in almost immediately. My favorite compliment? Best Yali student performance of the year. Not that it was a competition or something, but... yes.
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight"
"This looks familiar... Oh yes, this is how Mufasa looked before I killed him."
A video will (hopefully) be uploaded onto Facebook in the near future!