A Note of Optimism: Tomorrow – it‘s always a day away!

A Note of Optimism: Tomorrow – it‘s always a day away!

March 29, 2018

From the first wistful, haunting notes of the oboe through to the swelling crescendo of the final chorus sung by the entire cast and crew, the whole ISF community was entertained and inspired last week by the celebration of theatrical talent on display in our 2018 production of Annie. Staged in our new auditorium, Annie is the 14th production undertaken by The ISF Academy Arts Faculty. The student cast, 42 veterans and new recruits drawn from Grades 6 to 11, backed by a 13-piece orchestra, and supported by the backstage crew of 11, was in rehearsal for months to bring this production to life on our new and untested ‗big stage‘. The end result surpassed the already high standards set in past years.

The story of the orphan Annie is a timeless message of irrepressible optimism in the face of crushing hardship. Our students, superbly led by a dedicated and thoroughly professional team of ISF educators, have brilliantly retold the depression-era story in a way that will resonate for years with those members of the school community fortunate enough to have been present.

Staging a live musical production in a school with a student cast and crew is a challenging exercise. Doing so with the accompaniment of a live student orchestra takes the level of difficulty to new heights. Each night, the work was demanding and emotionally draining for the students and teachers concerned, all of whom had to maintain their normal school duties during the production run. This highly dedicated student company created a memorable series of finely polished, delightful performances that will now become a precious part of our school‘s performing arts heritage.

One of the most difficult accomplishments achieved by this cast and crew is the amazing consistency in the quality of each performance. Subtle improvements and embellishments were certainly evident with each performance, as all of the actors, both principal and supporting, explored what was possible with their respective parts. The overall quality of each performance, however, achieved a remarkable and consistently high standard, worthy of a professional repertory company.

I must also acknowledge that this production, to which many have contributed, inspired some of our highly experienced ISF teachers and support staff to take risks with new roles. Of particular note was the directorial debut of Mr. Oliver Peneyra ('Faust'), known chiefly for his stunning set designs, ably supported by experienced associate directors, Mr. Adam Walker, Mr. Robert Scheer, and Ms. Tiffany Lo, our new theatre manager, Ms. Yan Tong, and not to forget the enthusiastic musical direction of Mr. Nigel Penfold. Each note, each word, each movement – all were lovingly crafted and shaped by these talented educators.

The fantasy world of Annie, created on stage for just a short while by the ISF theatre ‗company‘, was a place of vibrant color, tireless vitality, elegant style, and quirky humor. The lessons each of us can take from the production are many. The central themes emphasize strength of character, success drawn from resilience, and making positive choices. For me, however, the chorus refrain from one of the musical highlights of the play sums up a key message of optimism that is right for all of us:

Tomorrow – it’s always a day away…

Dr. Malcolm Pritchard

Head of School

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