Aged from about ten through to twenty, they squeezed into a room littered with musical instruments and practiced purposefully and tirelessly through the night. Some were seated behind organs, pianos, and a drum set, hell-bent on mastering the pieces they had to perform, while others stood in neat rows, passionately belting out some of Broadway’s long cherished hits.
They were all determinedly rehearsing for ‘A Night at the West End’, a show featuring a wide selection of Broadway musicals. The show is a collaboration between three different performing arts schools; The Studio, the Dance Works Centre and the Mary Anne School of Vocal Music.
The concept of having three different institutes sharing the same stage was thought up by the show’s chief organiser and directress of the The Studio, Shyama Perera.
“Our school usually has a concert every two years with students playing their instruments only. This year we wanted to do something unique by incorporating singing and dancing into the show,” Mrs. Perera revealed.
During the concert, the three schools will showcase their burgeoning talent by performing numbers from Broadway favourites such as ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘My Fair Lady’.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Hambantota Children’s resource centre which provides free IT and English language training to children from the area. Shyama says rehearsals have been progressing uninterrupted for the past three months. Yet, with just a little more than a week to go before the show, she is still grinding her young charges to extract their best work. “It has been difficult at times.
The main problem was getting the kids to turn up for practices especially with most of them going for tuition classes after school,” Mrs. Perera says adding that the juniors from her academy will take to the stage only to play their musical instruments.
Sereta David (11) says that for her this whole experience has been “a lot of fun and helped me learn new beats.”
Dinushki Heart (15), Onella Piyatlake(15) and Roshani Abbey (14) of the Merry An singers explain that they are very enthusiastic and excited to be a part of something this unique and said it broadened their perspective by helping them meet new people.
“This is the first proper session we are having with the other schools, the ones we had before were attended only by a small group,” explains Suchiththa Wickremasooriya (20) who has been a part of roughly 20 shows during his 16 year tenure as a Merry An singer.
'A Night at the West End’ will be held on June 18 and 19 at the Bishop’s College Auditorium at 7.00 p.m.
Tickets for the concert can be purchased at The Christian Reformed Church in Wellawatte and at the Bishop’s College Auditorium.
Media sponsors for the event are the Sunday Times, Dailymirror, Yes Fm and MTV.