‘A production that could hold its own on any mainframe stage.’ Review by Caroline Smart

Yesterday was a day exploding with youthful energy as I judged the annual Drum for Joy Steel Drum competition in the morning and, in the evening, attended the opening of the latest production from the Westville Boys’ High School’s Performing Arts Department – a musical revue called You Can’t Stop the Beat!’  It was a day-long affirmation of how the performing arts can change the lives of young people through disciplined focus and education through entertainment. Their look of pride and sense of achievement as they take the stage and present their talents in front of an audience is energising, to say the least. The cast of ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ also includes performers from Westville Junior Primary, Westville Senior Primary as well as the Westville Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools Combined Choirs. The press release describes the production as a “slick Barnyard-style Film and Broadway Tribute”. Frankly, this production could hold its own on any mainframe stage.
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The jam-packed programme offers numbers from classic stage shows like Rent, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Cats and Hairspray interspersed with contemporary interpretations of modern Hollywood masterpieces like Step Up, Pitch Perfect and Disney’s Frozen. The show offers impressive and mature performances all round. It is slick, moves fast and explodes with energy. Co-ordinating the large cast – there are 286 people on stage at one point! – is something that would require the skills of a military tactician, so hats off to director Luke Holder and his backstage crew. In fact, huge kudos all round for a splendid production and especially to the school itself for believing in the value of the performing arts. No expense was spared in the well-designed set, spectacular lighting or effective sound design – at one point, I counted 17 hand-held microphones. What a luxury! The costumes range from balletic and ballgown elegance to funky gear.  Special mention must be made of the highly-skilled main dancers – Jenna Moodie and Keegan Barnes – who also handled the choreography along with his mother, Fiona Barnes. The choreography is required to move smoothly across all styles and this is successfully achieved.
Other stand-out performances come from 12 year-old Ethan Coombe who sings Skyfall with aplomb, Andrew Bray as a Mr Bean lookalike and Deneska Theron who handles a number of the vocal solos. ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat!’ runs at Westville Boys’ High School for another eight performances. These are already sold out – but there is a cancellation list, so try your luck. This is a production well-worth seeing. For more information contact [email protected] – Caroline Smart
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