All I want for Christmas – a huge dose of the Christmas spirit for the whole family

Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The students of the David Academy of Performing Arts (DAPA) which commenced operations on 29 September last year proudly present their debut concert which, as students of performing arts, is part and parcel of their course of study.

DAPA was founded last year by critically acclaimed and award winning voice and performance teacher, choreographer and artistic director Andre David. The academy’s mission is “to provide the highest calibre of artistic education to Sri Lankans through training in musical theatre, dance and singing, at affordable prices so that they may reach their fullest potential as artistes, leaders and global citizens”.

They began on a very small scale, offering classes in voice and Musical Theatre with a view to adding more performing arts related subjects as time went on.

However, DAPA saw a rapid and unprecedented growth in the first year of its operation which demonstrated the significant demand and need in the country for high quality creative instruction probably untapped thus far due the high cost of such instruction.

Thus, DAPA, which began with just five students in September 2010, had 50 students learning Musical Theatre under Andre David by January 2011. The Academy now has almost 100 students and a four-member teaching and instruction team.

In celebration of a first, hugely successful year, the David Academy of Performing Arts plans to present its debut concert featuring a cast of children aged seven to 13 years along with performances by André and Dinali David, Julius Mitchell and Ashi Wickrema. The concert, entitled ‘All I Want For Christmas’, hits the stage of the Russian Cultural Centre’s revamped auditorium on 17 and 18 December at 7.30p.m. and will be directed André David.

‘All I Want For Christmas’, which goes on the boards the week before Christmas, when kids the world over will be busy writing out their Christmas lists and their letters to good old Santa Claus, features Christmas songs and songs from musicals arranged in review style to form a ‘Christmas List’ of the varied hopes, wishes and dreams of folks from all walks of life – from the inspiring and uplifting to the absurd and outrageous.

The cast, although new to the field, has rehearsed very hard and have been given extensive training over the last few months. “It is a challenge for me since many of these kids have not had the opportunity of stage performance before this, and there is a great satisfaction, albeit an equally great amount of stress, in preparing them to present this show. Just like the maxim in the business world which says ‘customer comes first’, the maxim in the performance world is ‘the audience comes first’. Because this is my personal motto when directing or performing, I instil this in all my students. This can sometimes mean a lot more work than they are used to doing for concerts and very high expectations to live up to, but I must say that these kids have really risen to the challenge. And I am proud of how far they’ve come in just a few months,” said André.

The programme includes famous comic songs (with a special Andre-style twist) which feature requests to Santa,  (All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and Santa Baby), complaints on Santa’s gifts from last year (The Hat I Got for Christmas is too Big), heartwarming and inspirational songs (My Grownup Christmas List), songs from generic musicals (Maybe, Where is Love, If I Were a Rich Man), some good, if zany, advice (Be Kind to Your Parents, You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two), a sing-a-long, as well as a few surprises. It is sure to be an evening brimming with Christmas cheer for the whole family and a great way to enter the Christmas week.

In keeping with the overall priority of the academy – the creative development of Sri Lankan youth and supporting young artistes to realise their potential – the accompanists for the show too, represent some of the country’s most outstanding youth. Joshua Asokan who accompanies on piano is a veritable child prodigy.

Formerly a boy soprano under the guidance of Mary Anne David, and subsequently one of the most outstanding students in André’s junior class at the Mary Anne School of Vocal Music, Joshua is now a member of the performing group, the Merry An Singers.

A student of St. Benedict’s College, at just 15 years of age, he is a highly qualified musician, a professional accompanist, composer and music arranger and is currently studying for two performance diplomas and two teacher’s diplomas in piano while studying for his Ordinary Level examinations next year.

Daniel Prins too is 15 years old and a student of the British School in Colombo. His father, Christo Prins is a celebrated drummer with whom André has worked with for several years. Enter the next generation. Daniel, who started out as a self taught drummer, is now under the expert guidance of Dr. Sumudi Suraweera. Winner of the instrumental category in his school talent competition for two consecutive years, his first professional assignment was at just 13 years of age and since then he has been performing regularly as an accompanist for some of the country’s leading musical groups.

The show is produced by Dinali David, also a member of the Merry An Singers, and the Administrative and Managerial head of DAPA.

Tickets are priced Rs. 750, Rs. 1000 and Rs. 2000 and the box plan is available at Dwellings, No. 52, Green Path, Colombo 3, and at the David Academy of Performing Arts which is located at No. 89 (first floor), Hospital Road, Kalubowila. You can also call 0716881119 to reserve your tickets.