Thursday, January 24, 2013

The lions are roaring!

The Choice School puts up a spectacular production of ‘The Lion King’ 

By Shevlin Sebastian 
Six months ago, Jose Thomas, the president, Choice Foundation, got an idea: to do a musical, ‘The Lion King’ at the Choice School. And thus a project was set in motion, in which 450 students, from Class 1 to 11, were involved. This was divided into actors and dancers, 200, singers, 120, backstage help, 80, while there were about 50 students to welcome the guests.

And unlike most other schools, Choice also decided to take on professional help. So, leading members of the Silly Point Productions, as well as the Stepz Dance Academy from Mumbai, music teacher Joe Peter, on loan from Rajagiri Public School, apart from experts in  costumes, set fabrication and props, light and sound, choreography and music stepped in.  The end result, on a recent Sunday, on the playground of Choice School was a stunning production, with some eye-popping scenes, thanks to a backdrop which was 32 feet high.

The story is a familiar one, since the Lion King has been a blockbuster international movie hit.  The great lion king Mufasa (Pranav N. Govind) is killed by his jealous brother Scar (Tharun Mathai), but he blames the heir apparent Young Simba (Joshua Eugine). Ashamed, Simba runs away from the Pridelands (Savannah in Africa) and takes refuge in the jungle where he has the meerkat Timon (Aishwarya Sreenivas) and warthog Pumbaa (Siddarth Nambiar/Shuaib Harris) for company.

Meanwhile, Scar allows hyenas to come into the land and they destroy the ecosystem. By this time, Simba has become a young robust lion, and is lured home by his childhood friend, the   young lioness Nala (Suzanne Kurian), Rafiki, (the mandrill who serves as a Grand Vizier to the lion king), and the spirit of Mufasa.  They take back the kingdom, and the Circle of Life is restored. Incidentally, there are all sorts of animals: giraffes, zebras, birds, an enormous elephant, rhinos, and gazelles.

And the choir, placed on either side of the stage, boys and girls in full-length blue gowns, sang with gusto and passion. Says teacher Joe Peter: “Training sessions meant long hours of standing, continuous singing to perfection, without breaks, so that no singer latched on to the other’s singing lines.”

Overall, the effect was impressive. “The scenes unfolded with clockwork precision, which gave an indication of the practice that was involved,” says Reeni Joseph, a friend of a parent who had come along.

It was a colossal production,” says June Jose, the principal of the Kottayam-based Pallikoodam school, who had come with 87 students and 10 staff members. “One can imagine the infrastructure involved. The only drawback was that the stage was too far away to see all the details of the play properly.”

And some of the celebrities in the audience were equally impressed. Superstar Mohanlal, who is also the chairman of the JT Pac, says, “I am speechless. It was simply amazing.”
Says actress Lissy Priyadarshan: “It was unbelievable that the school could put up this production with just four months of practice. The children  were as good as international-level professionals. The voice modulations, the costumes, the acting, it was a remarkable show in every way.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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