Regulus // Issue 3 // November 2022
With the new Performing Arts Centre at St Andrew’s under construction throughout 2022 and no theatre onsite to perform in, the creative team behind the Middle School production had the task of finding a show and venue which would still provide the students with a full theatre experience.
They met the challenge head on by creating their own show, Antoinette's Showstoppers, a celebration of some of the best loved Tony award-winning songs from musicals as diverse as Kiss Me Kate, Oliver, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, The Lion King, Shrek, Hairspray and Hamilton.
During the show’s three-night run at the Ngaio Marsh Theatre at the University of Canterbury in late October, the young cast, aged from 8–15, delivered some brilliant performances, resulting in well-deserved standing ovations.
Director Ginnie Thorner, says putting on the show was wonderful, and slightly terrifying in moments, but as they say in show business, it all came together on the night. “One of the biggest challenges was not being able to rehearse at the Ngaio Marsh Theatre. We only had six hours in the space before opening. However the Secondary and Preparatory students took it in their stride. We were so proud of their performances. With so many styles of song, the choreography was tricky, and many of the cast had never danced before but they did incredibly well.”
Hana Pearce (OC 2019) returned once again to choreograph the show, assisted by Ginnie Thorner, and had a great rapport with the young cast, helping them to master the often intricate, fast-moving choreography, with multiple performers on stage at once on many occasions. Xanthe Pearce (Year 11) also assisted and choreographed a couple of the songs herself.
The stunning costumes created by Costume Designer, Sylvia Campbell, with her trademark attention-to-detail, made for a visual feast. The band, featuring William Ernest (OC 2014) on keyboards and Hayden Lam (Year 11) on drums, led by Musical Director, Duncan Ferguson, put in another stellar performance. The music required a lot of time and attention, and Duncan put hours of work into creating the many layers of tracks required for the songs.
A dedicated technical crew, and team of supportive friends and parents, also did their part to create another highly memorable show at St Andrew’s College.
The young cast of Antoinette's Showstoppers took their appreciative audiences on a magical musical theatre journey across the decades, with Another Op’nin, Another Show, from Kiss Me Kate the perfect, high-energy crowd pleaser to open the show.
With a Company of 30, a Junior Company of 14 Preparatory School students, and four students acting as presenters for the show’s 19 epic songs, it is impossible to single out all the wonderful individual performances. However, there were some definite standouts.
Sarah Heffernan (Year 10) has an exceptional voice and stage presence, and was a co-lead singer or soloist in seven of the show’s songs. The highlight was her stunning performance of Do-Re-Mi, from The Sound of Music, performed with the delightful Junior Company who did a fantastic job of sustaining the song’s clever and complex choreography throughout.
Jake Elvidge (Year 10) is another to watch. He is a natural performer with a strong voice, who particularly impressed in Consider Yourself, from Oliver, with the Company Boys and Junior Company.
The maturity and beautiful tone of Noah Fanene’s (Year 10) voice in Close Every Door from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Don’t Rain On my Parade from Funny Girl, was something to behold.
All of the lead singers did a wonderful job, and were obviously relishing their time in the spotlight. There were a number of exceptional female singers in the show, including Mookmanee Lee (Year 10) who gave several strong performances. Sean Liddiard (Year 10) stood out in Friend Like Me, from Aladdin, and Rory Forsythe (Year 10) gave a powerhouse performance in Room Where it Happens, from Hamilton.
The Company performed enthusiastically, and there were some great harmonies in the big production numbers. The presenters, Anisha Chand, Cooper Harris, and Ethan Higgs (all Year 10) did a wonderful job introducing the songs, with Cooper displaying great comic timing. Charlotte Bull (Year 10) impressed as their stage manager, trying to keep them on script.
The Preparatory School students in the Junior Company were a delight, with Jessica Whitehead (Year 4) stealing almost every item she was in with her wonderful performances.
Antoinette's Showstoppers closed with the Company’s performance of the high octane, You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray, which was the perfect, uplifting way to end a fantastic show, which everyone involved can be proud of.