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A ‘loverly’ evening courtesy of the Workshop Players

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 6 October 2017 00:00

Well, folks, it’s that time of the year again - when the Workshop Players will be putting on a show for the 25th time! This year is particularly special to the Workshop family as 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the Workshop Players (WSP). 

The WSP have enjoyed unprecedented success over the years by bringing world-renown musicals and plays such as, ‘Oliver!’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, ‘Evita’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Les Misérables’ to Sri Lanka. 

This year they will bring us Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway classic ‘My Fair Lady’, produced by special arrangement with Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc., 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022. The musical is based on George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’, and is considered one of the finest musicals ever created.

Based in Edwardian London, the production will take you through the rough yet warm banter at the Covent Garden market, the unforgettable phonetics of Wimple Street which make those elocution classes almost bearable, the elite Ascot Gavotte with the crème de la crème and even royalty at the Embassy Ball, which is sure to deliver a ‘loverly’ evening. 

I was able to chat with a few of the cast and crew and get an insight into their journey so far. With a cast of almost 50, the play has many supporting roles in addition to the leads. The role of Eliza Doolittle is being portrayed by Amarsha Tissera and Daniella Perera, two ‘newbies’ to the Workshop family. 

Amarsha Tissera is from a musical family and grew up with My Fair Lady, having watched the movie since she was 10. Amarsha has always wanted to perform with WSP and is thrilled make her debut as Eliza, in her second public performance. During rehearsals, she’s learnt the importance of working as a group, especially the crucial role of the ensemble. In addition she believes that this play gives a unique message to society about discrimination and the struggles of all walks of life. Playing Eliza has also been a dream of Daniella Perera, who has played excerpts from the musical since she was 11. She says it is amazing to finally be a part of the WSP and that being part of the cast has given her the ultimate experience of being ‘serious’ and learning a lot, while having fun at the same time! Daniella believes Sri Lankans should be encouraged to take up theatre more and that WSP provides a good grounding in this.

Next I chat with Andre Perera, the President of the WSP. This is his 11th year with the group and the second musical to be done under his presidency. He says it is refreshing to have new blood in the cast and this is the first time that out of a cast of 50, almost 90% are female! Andre will be fully involved from a production aspect, in addition to playing a role on stage. 

No doubt as part of their silver anniversary, this year’s production will be directed by Surein de S. Wijeratne and produced by Jerome L. de Silva. Talking to the man himself, Jerome says its great fun to be onstage again! He says it is about time others start taking over and that he is slowly ‘weaning himself off’. He says that every year the workshop family keeps expanding and that it is great to see the interest of many young people. Jerome will continue to oversee productions and is involved in theatre at school level in addition to the WSP. 

My Fair Lady will be staged from 6-15 October, from 7:30 p.m. onwards at the Lionel Wendt theatre. Box plan is now open at the Wendt, with tickets priced at Rs. 800 (balcony), Rs. 2,000, Rs. 3,500, Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 5000. It is a show not to be missed and will be sure have you wanting to dance all night! 

– Dilly Liyanagama

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