One hundred and twenty upper primary school students. Thirty teachers. Fifteen parents. These are the members of Garden International School community who teamed up to create the three-evening spectacular musical show adapted from the Disney animated film The Lion King.
“I’ve loved acting since I was three. I like characters that are funny and have a lot of emotion and make people laugh. I enjoyed playing the role of a mad hyena for this show. I ran through the songs with my mum five times every night before bed,” said 9-year-old Beatrice Lawrence who is strongly motivated by both her parents who teach drama.
For Aris Razlan who played the main cast role of “Pumbaa”, the experience was unforgettable. Together with his buddy Ezzeddin Ahmad who played “Timon”, they drew laughter from the audience during every show.
“It’s just fun! I wasn’t nervous at all but excited to perform. I practised in front of the mirror every day and focused on vocal harmonising with Ezzeddin. We had great chemistry. We participated in the X-factor (a talent competition also at the school) together and also came runners up,” exclaims the bubbly boy.
Qiqi Saw, a sweet and talented year 6 girl opted to try something different and played the role of “Rafiki” and impressed the audience with her strong vocal and acting skills.
“It’s really fun working with everyone. I love musical shows because it shows another side of me. If I were to play again, I’d choose the same character because I really like it,” said Qiqi who also has equal talent in playing musical instruments such as piano, ukulele and violin.
“The students were excited to do the show. As a teacher, nothing is more fulfilling than seeing our students happy, having fun, singing and shining on stage. After all, music should be fun,” said Chris Koelma, music teacher and producer for the show.
The preparation for the show began in March, with casting auditions and weekly rehearsals at the school. Parents, teachers and an artist-in-residence, Tunku Tommy Mansur, spent weeks creating the staging, props, head masks, and costumes from scratch, using random materials from brooms and mops to rope and cardboard.
“It took about a month and half to sail through the creative planning process, finding and sourcing materials from three continents…with the help of a great group of enthusiastic parents we completed all the costumes in a span of about 4 weeks,” said Gitanjali Dhruve Jain, a parent, who led the costuming team.
“Having seen a bit of the rehearsals and the last two shows I was thrilled that every element of the show was so brilliantly bound together with such energy flowing through all the participating children which resulted in them presenting a truly incredible piece of entertainment! To hear the audience heartily cheer at the end of every scene was in itself a gift to all the people who worked on making the show come alive,” she commented.