Christine Barling – Director
We are blessed at Sotogrande International School to have a wealth of creative talent amongst our student body. The only hitch with this is that it is always hard to find a play that provides the opportunity to platform the extent of gifted performers we have throughout the school. Mr Wix was keen on the idea of putting on Fame, but the original play just did not seem to do justice to the brilliance of our students. As a result, I have scripted our own SIS version of this classic, drawing upon the well known characters and storylines from the 1980s TV series. We brought this to life with our own selection of much loved tunes to take our audience on a nostalgic trip down a 1980s memory lane. What is wonderful about crafting our own play text is that the students themselves can contribute creative ideas for scenes, songs or even lines! In this way, each and every one of our 56 M1-DP1 students can contribute to a more organic process and have a significant moment on stage that will allow them to shine. With another 10 students in the band, 25 front of house, backstage and tech crew we are thrilled to have been able to present to you a show that involves approximately 20% of our Secondary students.
We feel lucky in being able to showcase our SIS Performing Arts students at the 700 seater theatre at San Roque, allowing our students to build performing confidence and have the experience of working in a professional theatre.
In this blog, we will share an insight into the performance process through the voices of our cast and crew.
Why come to an SIS show!?!
Laura De Lathauwer (M5) audience member and backstage crew for Moulin Rouge and Bugsy Malone
Put simply because you will have fun!! Spend a great night out by watching another amazing SIS musical….and with a live band too!! The actors put in so many hours to make these nights unforgettable for the audience and the teachers put everything into this production. Take your family to a proper theatre, big enough to fit 600 people. The students put on a marvellous show, time after time, come enjoy and see it to believe it! The Kids from Fame will not fail to please!
Having worked behind the stage for two musicals and plays, I find myself admiring the change from beginning to end – driven by the energy, dedication and creativity of the cast and crew- from how the set is constructed to how the voices become to sound so pure.
Excitement and Entertainment. That’s why you should all come!
Isabella Rose B (M1) Dance ensemble
Why I wanted to be in Fame
I auditioned for this show as it was a completely new experience to be involved in a play that would be so big. It was also my first year in Secondary so that I wanted to get to know students from different years and really feel part of the school as a whole.
We had to do 3 auditions: singing, acting and dancing. These were not too hard and lots of fun. I practised the dances with my friends before we went and that was fun too.
I passed my audition!
When I first heard that I got a part in the show as a dancer I was amazed and thrilled that I had been given to a chance. I have really enjoyed having after-school rehearsals even though it is a big commitment and I cannot wait until the show!
Cassius J (M3) playing the part of Nick Piazza
In terms of the auditions process, I tried to approach it with as little expectation as possible. I did my best to go out, and act as best I could. So, when I got that first callback, I was ecstatic. More so than that, when I found out that I got the role of Nick, one of the most important characters, I was on cloud nine.
Exploring the character
One of the best things about the play this year was the fact that it allowed me to explore and push my acting abilities much further than the previous year. While I enjoyed “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” very much, there can be no doubt that this year’s play allowed me to express myself more and work on my characterization; Nick. Once again, to compare and contrast with my time in the play last year (which is my only prior experience), I was able to make my character much more fleshed out this time around. With Nick, I felt that I was able to properly conceptualize how he might react to the scenarios he was in, making him my own, rather than just reading straight from the script.
It’s all in the detail
I really tried to make him a fully 3d character, through little details in his past. For example, while it might not be apparent at first, subtle clues in the dialogue reveal that Nick has had a childhood obsessed with fame. With his mother impressing upon him the importance of achieving success since the tender age of three. However, while he might have had it forced upon him, Nick enjoys acting greatly and is frustrated when others do not carry the same determination and respect for the art that he does. All of this information is not apparent at first read through, but I have tried to make it come through in my performance, regardless of whether it is through dialogue or his reaction to the antics that take place during drama class.
Zara B (D1) playing the role of Mrs Sherman
Rehearsing for FAME has been an opportunity to get to know ourselves and the students around the school that we would not normally have the experience to work so closely with better.
Learning our lines
I play the role of Mrs Sherman, a realistic, strict but kind teacher who wants the best for her students. The process began with line learning, making sure we understood the context of the scenes we were performing in, to be able to rehearse the scenes to the best of our abilities and memorise the dialogue and stage directions. All of us have had to put our hearts and souls into the commitment of the show as we know how much hard work all the directors and staff have put into the show, the ensemble works their hardest to be able to portray that appreciation. We always have one goal at the end and that is to be able to pull off a show.
In the zone
The shows are always an exhausting but rewarding process at the finish line. During rehearsals we run warm-ups, these are to ensure that we know the cast and that we are focussed and ready to run through the scenes ahead of us, in other words, to make sure that we are ‘in the zone’.
With the ups there have also been downs
There have been many ups and downs during FAME, we have had numerous highlights but also some frustrations to maintain a balanced equilibrium. The highlights have included working towards something that we truly enjoy and watching that hard work pay off, despite the fact that sometimes, when some cast members do not put that work in it can seem like a burden, although, we quickly manage to jump over that hurdle and focus on the main goal.
We are all in this together
I enjoy FAME as it is a fun yet entirely rewarding process, pride engulfs you at the end, not only for yourself but for everyone else that was involved in the journey. Developing my character was tough at first as I had to identify my strengths in order to ‘become’ Mrs Sherman. Throughout these rehearsals, I have developed a sense of community and also a sense of true commitment from everyone. I will truly miss participating in SIS productions. This play has highlighted the true meaning of ‘comradery’, we’re all in this together.
Jack Guilfoyle (M3) playing the role of Goody
Rehearsing for FAME has been difficult, but in the end, all the time we put in has paid off for this incredible musical.
A roller coaster experience
The rehearsals started back in October and ever since then it has been a roller coaster experience. Initially, the rehearsals were mainly focused on getting to know our characters as well as getting to know all of the people in the cast.
My character, Goody Wilkman is an aspiring saxophone player who enjoys having a few laughs and chatting up the girls. I felt that because my character wasn’t one of the biggest characters I was able to have more fun and be more creative.
We always start with a warm-up
Rehearsals, of course, are an integral part of any production and even though some rehearsals were better than others, I enjoyed every one. To start off every rehearsal we begin with some warm-up games. These are one of my favourite parts of rehearsal because they allow you to have fun with your friends and fellow castmates as well as warming you up for the rest of the rehearsal.
My personal challenge
Each rehearsal brought along its own set of challenges but we were always able to iron these out allowing us to always finish rehearsals on a high note. Some of the hardest rehearsals that I’ve faced were the dance rehearsals. This is because I’ve never danced in any productions or shows which made it a bit hard for me to learn the choreography and how to stay in time with the music.
An excuse to be creative
I feel that being in any show is a truly incredible experience. It allows you to make incredible friendships, learn how to be more organised and responsible. On top of that, being in any production allows you to explore your creative side which is sometimes hard to do at school.
Director of Choreography: Maria Pinnock-Rolph
The music in this year’s show is most probably my favourite so far. Like many people my age, I grew up dancing to the ‘Fame’ soundtrack, so when Christine told me that we were doing this for the school musical, I immediately started choreographing.
Luckily, we have some extremely talented dancers and gymnasts in the ensemble this year, so it was very exciting to see them embrace my concepts. As always, student input is valuable and I am grateful that the students came up with so many wonderful and creative ideas. One particular student stood out at the very beginning, so of course, I recruited her and she worked alongside me with the choreography. Thank you, Natasha.
This is the first year we have had a lot of boys dancing, most of whom had never danced before. Nonetheless, after learning how to ‘step together’ in time to the music and then progressing to ‘The Running Man’, they were willing to step out of their comfort zone and ‘Boogie On Down’.
As always, all the students have worked incredibly hard for weeks but I have to praise my group of dancers (you know who you are) for their efforts, patience, dedication and boundless energy; I have enjoyed dancing with you. I would also like to thank Mercedes and Diego from Rea Danza, Hédi, Debbi and of course, Mrs Stone.
Jackson K (M4) playing (and dancing!) the role of Tyler Jackson
I was so happy to be picked for a main role in the play and excited to get to spend tons of time with the group of people that I love. I had no doubts or problems with the things I had to sacrifice for this musical.
Getting into character
In the beginning, I was a bit lost and confused with the role I was given. My character is a hard role to play, he is very emotional and insecure while also being the centre of attention. My main struggle was getting into dance.
….and dancing for the first time!
Dancing was never a strong suit for me, mostly because it is hard for a big guy like me to be flexible and a dancer. After about two months I started to learn easy routines in dance but I still didn’t get the hang of being confident with my dancing, I also felt so shy on stage so I never did anything big or vigorous. Then, a month later, I finally felt comfortable with my dancing I was no longer afraid because I was having fun instead and enjoyed my time with friends. I will definitely keep dancing as a talent and skill, I will also continue dancing till the day I die.
Eden S (M3) – Dancer
Over the past six months, the ‘Kids from Fame’ dancers have rehearsed for over forty hours, practising our eight dances choreographed by Mrs Pinnock, Rea Danza, Hedi Fekete and Mrs Stone. I think I speak for all the dancers when I say that we are all extremely grateful and thankful to Mrs Pinnock and the rest of our choreographers for working so hard to help produce our final product for the show!
A few of the dancers had an amazing opportunity to work with Hedi Fekete, whose vision helped shape the emotive dance for ‘Out Here on My Own.’ Hedi’s creativity shone through as she patiently encouraged and guided us through her amazing contemporary dance.
It’s great when it all starts to come together!
We also took part in several acting scenes, which has been a new experience for many of us that we have enjoyed thoroughly! I think the best element of taking part in this show has been working with so many talented peers and enjoying the successes, and being able to laugh and have fun with the rest of the cast whilst creating a grand show. Many people in our ensemble haven’t danced before, so as a team, watching each other grow as has unmistakably been a highlight, we’ve had such a great time!
Tiring – but worth it
We have been remarkably tired after rehearsals but we hope that the audience enjoys our hard work and effort. Once again, thank you to our teachers for being so amazing, it’s been an experience none of us will forget!
Ava O´C (M2) Drama ensemble
Coming on in on a Saturday for a rehearsal was a really interesting experience. It’s almost like you’re part of this VIP band who can go backstage at a show!
Take it from the top!
We did a whole show run through and it started feeling like a real show for once. The story lines made sense when it was now put together and the transitions we put into place were satisfying and worked out.
Performing with the band
This was the first time practising with the band, and it really makes the fact that we had a performance the next week suddenly very real. Having the band live made it smoother, in some cases people chose when to start singing and the band followed, which was better for the people who didn’t have much previous experience performing with a live band.
And now for show
The show is less than a week away and I couldn’t be more excited. I love performing and the Saturday rehearsal was probably the most fun day I’ve had so far. Although I am excited, I’m also quite sad. It’s kind of like a bittersweet taste because I know performing it will be the best, but realizing there are no more rehearsals after is quite saddening. But I know Fame will never die because I have built bonds with people in the cast that I have a feeling are going to last a lifetime.
Kerry Wickersham – Musical Director
It has taken many years to have a live band with the majority of members as students. In the past, we have drafted in professionals to build up our sound and tackle the complexed parts. This year, with the exception of the instrumental teachers, we are a complete student band, ages ranging from P6 to D1 with some band members have been playing for less than a year.
Many thanks go to Karen Blakemore for writing the brass arrangements, specific to the playing ability of the student.
Many Friday evenings and Sunday rehearsals have been behind the sounds you will hear in this evening’s production. We sincerely hope you can´t stop your foot from tapping and singing along to some of the classics!
Isobel C(M3) Saxophonist.
I started playing the saxophone a little over two years ago, and over this time it has become a major part of my life. I play at every school concert I can, participating in the Secondary School Band.
An exciting opportunity
This year we have been given the opportunity to play in the school’s production of The Kids from Fame, it has been an amazing experience working alongside our teachers and classmates to put together a collective of songs. Many Thursday, Friday and Sunday rehearsals have been put in for this. Each rehearsal we could hear ourselves progressing, every practise filled with laughter and outright enjoyment.
Practise makes perfect
One of the highlights is when we play a song which we haven’t practised because you can hear how bad it sounds – and then how much it improves when we all go over our parts, it’s a good example of how much practise does affect your performance.
I would like to thank all our music teachers because some of these rehearsals haven’t been easy! In particular, I would like to thank Miss Karen because she has written everyone’s parts in the songs, and when a part was to difficult for us to play she would re-write it and simplify it. Mr Wickersham has been such an inspiration, telling us how great the final performance will be and motivating us when we have bad days.
Come and see the show!
Over the months leading up to The Kids from Fame I have felt a mix of emotions, I am quite scared because this will be my first big performance with the school but also exhilarated because I am part of something that is much bigger than myself. I know that the final product will definitely be worth all of this effort. Hearing and seeing the band and dancers come together has been eye-opening, the amount of effort that they put into learning all these dances is incredible and when you come to see the show you will understand why we love music and all the art options that we are offered.
Karen Blakemore – Musical arrangement, peripatetic support and trumpet player
I am proud of the students in the Fame band, the youngest member, on trumpet, is only in P6 but she, along with all of the other students, have spent time learning their parts and shown real commitment and dedication!
Being part of a show as a musician is not just about playing the correct notes, it’s about working as a team along with the cast on stage. I feel that this is a great experience for the band, a chance to show how professional they are and give them a proper insight into being a musician – discipline is a major factor and the Fame band have demonstrated just that!!!
Christine Barling and Maria Pinnock, Costume design.
Collating the costumes for this show seemed an easy job at first as we thought to pillage the bright neons from ´Back to the 80s´ performed some years ago. However the aficionado of Fame Mrs Pinnock saw the cast being dressed in a more day-to-day inner city look, so we essentially started from scratch.
Raiding the costume cupboard
It has been a lot of fun blending what we could rehaul from the costume cupboard and scoop up from local shops to create the right ´look´ for the characters that needed to be presented on stage. Once again we often let the students take the lead as they helped us choose costumes that would help them craft the characters they were developing for the stage.
An explosion of colour
The piles of unitards, bags of leg warmers and hung hats first came to life in the dynamic explosion of colour and chaos that was our photoshoot. Putting the cast in costume suddenly brought to life the potential vivacity of the show which our Marketing Team encaptured perfectly in our posters for the show. Suddenly show time seemed to be scarily soon!