There’s an inaccurate perception that because this festival is run by a school, the productions will be of a decent amateur standard and no more. That’s never been the case with the Festival Of Fame shows and with the development of phenomena like High School Musical and Glee, expectations have been ratcheted up, even if audiences recognise that the budget available for a local school musical and a Disney extravaganza are worlds apart.
There are three major strengths in this production of Sweet Charity, the musical tale of a cheerful dancehall hostess looking for love. Cosmetically, it looks great, with the Joburg Theatre’s fantastic mechanical stage being cleverly used to provide clear context for specific scenes. Multi-storey screens and glittering costumes also help with visual impact.
Secondly, the direction by Janna Ramos-Violante and Mark Hawkins, and the choreography by the latter, is world-class. It has to be, given that the learners involved had to fit in rehearsals, learning dialogue, hitting marks on the vast Mandela stage and all the rest in between their schoolwork and extra-mural activities. Accurately delivered dialogue (with consistent accents) and tight group choreography confirm the attention to detail and steady guidance the cast have received.
Finally, this is a very talented cast, and in Kiruna-Lind Devar, who plays Charity Valentine, the school has produced a future leading lady. Confident as a singer and a dancer and able to deliver the reams of dialogue her character is responsible for with both panache and tangible joy, Devar is a magnetic presence on stage.