Musicals tribute relaunches theatre

Soloist Catherine van der Merwe (centre) with members of the St Anne’s Dance Theatre Company, rehearse Le Jazz Hot from the musical Victor Victoria.


TWENTY-EIGHT singers and 40 dancers have been assembled for an hour-long musical spectacle, This is Me: A Tribute to Musicals, which is to be presented at 7.30pm nightly, from March 25 to 28, at St Anne’s Diocesan College in Hilton.

The show by pupils is to launch and celebrate the newly built Theatre Centre at the private girls’ boarding school, says the school’s theatre director Lynn Chenaly, who has produced the new show.

Musical numbers featured in the production are from theatre and film, and include tributes to The Greatest Showman, Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Sarafina, Sister Act, Mulan, Anastasia, West Side Story, Victor Victoria, The King and I, Moulin Rouge and Wicked.

The interior of the rejuvenated theatre at St Anne’s Diocesan College in Hilton.

This is Me: A Tribute to Musicals has a production team that includes choreographer Tegan Peacock, voice training specialists Elsa and Riaan Oosthuizen, and musicians Anthea Hibbert, Andri Potgieter and Rudi Engelbrecht, who will provide the live accompaniment. The technical director is Marcus Henning.

“The numbers have been specifically chosen to expose our talented female voices, as well as for their musicality, theatricality and timeless relevance to making brave, individual choices in the face of conformity,” says Chemaly.

“We have also chosen a few unusual songs that do not generally make the cut in musical reviews, but thoroughly deserve the limelight!”

Tickets cost R70 each (R50 concessions). To book, or for more information about This Is Me: A Tribute to Musicals, mail

The theatre and drama complex at St Anne’s has been built specifically to be a first-class educational facility for dramatic Arts teaching and training in theatre and performance, explains Chemaly.

“Girls often choose St Anne’s because of our drama, music, dance and theatre programmes. The premise under which we operate is that The Theatre is a practical laboratory for dramatic arts training, and thus all our theatre projects are directly linked to the dramatic arts curriculum, either in form, style or content. Our first priority focus is education and training.

“The Theatre itself is part of the old classroom block building, and in the past five years we have run into serious maintenance issues, particularly with rain and electrical problems, which has resulted in health and safety issues.

“Half of this build is actually the essential and timeous maintenance and upgrade of an old existing structure that will remain the same, and the other part is new buildings that have been added on and connected to existing structures.

There are no additions to the Theatre space itself, she says: “We have simply upgraded the venue in terms of seating, acoustics, flooring, curtaining and technical equipment, and have built a proper run-around on the backstage.

“It is not educationally sound for young people to perform in lofty, cavernous spaces, and so we felt a 500- to 700-seater auditorium was not in fitting with our educational principles, as we are not a commercial theatre, and never will be. Our 300-seater auditorium is the ideal space and size for our educational theatrical requirements.”

The sprung floor starts to go in at the Movement Studio at the St Anne’s Theatre Centre.

What is new in the complex is, firstly, a theatre foyer with a covered verandah, a kitchen with two serving hatches, a theatre office which doubles as a box office and ample ablutions.

“We also now have a sprung-floor Movement Studio. Dance theatre has always been a very strong component of our curriculum teaching and training in drama.

“We have two dance theatre companies running in the school. These new facilities have been attached and redistributed within the old, now enabling a separate drama classroom with its own practical studio, a dedicated Green Room, rack room and backstage dressing rooms, all of which have been upgraded.”

Chemaly points out that The Theatre is connected on the same level as the Drama Studio and the Movement Studio, enabling the whole complex to open up into one big space for backstage use and/or alternative use in teaching and performance.

The project build started in June 2018 and the front side of the complex –  including the theatre, allied foyer, ablutions, greenroom and backstage – will be completed by March 25.

The back side of the complex, including the Drama classroom and Studio, Movement Studio, D&T classroom and Social Responsibility office, roadway and gardens, should be complete by the end of May.

“A tremendous amount of research, planning and thought has gone into this project from all the various role players, both structurally and educationally.

“The architect, Nick Grice, has ensured that the overall look and architectural style of the ‘red brick and white trim’ has been maintained through the modern structures, and connects with the existing Chapel and original main school building that forms the impressive school frontage.”

Acoustic panneling goes up in the 300-seater St Anne’s theatre.

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