I spent much of last week with the songs from Hello Dolly looping in my head. Having seen the production three times, this is perhaps unsurprising. However, what set my internal soundtrack apart from other post-production weeks was that I wasn’t just hearing the songs; simultaneously, I was also visualising in my head the cocophony of colour and action that had played out in the Performing Arts Centre theatre – the station scene with passengers piling in through the upper doors, spilling down the aisles and bursting on to the stage, the café scene with super-agile waiters spinning around with shiny trays, the slapstick in the hat shop, the carnival parade…. the audience was treated to scene after scene of music, dancing and dramatic delight!
This was my first experience of a St John’s whole school production so it was lovely to see the way the youngest students were getting just as much joy from being part of the show as the others, all the way up to Grade 12. Well over 100 students were involved! Wonderful also to see some parents on stage. Add to this the phenomenal team of parents, students and staff who had helped to construct, build and source the set, turned seamstresses and tailors to create approaching 300 costumes, who helped backstage, who created gorgeous hair and make-up, who ran refreshments, candy-grams,the bar, the after-show party… It really was a fabulous example of the St John’s community – strong, collaborative and happy to enjoy the journey as much as the spectacular end result.
We are incredibly fortunate to have such a high quality, professional level theatre at St John’s and this is a great resource to give our students this amazing theatrical experience. But what has to be remembered is that this was still a school production – many of the participants had never sung, danced or acted before. Yet here we were with a double cast of the leading roles and every single person on stage singing, dancing and acting as if they had come straight from a performing arts school. My admiration and pride is immense!
So what is the St John’s secret? Certainly the impressive Performing Arts Centre. Certainly our wonderfully supportive community. Certainly the have-a-go approach of our students. But above all, it is the dedication, professionalism and expertise of the production team who poured their all into making the whole-school production such a whole-school success. Thank you to the incomparable Thom Graham, Ruth Gamano, Matthew Zadow, Katherine McInerney, Laurent Devignon and Marie-Pierre Demoutiez. Bravo to one and all!