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The Senior School broke new ground in November with the first ever production of the Tony-award winning musical Footloose in Sri Lanka.  Two packed houses at the Lionel Wendt theatre were treated to a stunning show, with our young cast and crew delivering a supremely professional performance.

Senal Wijetunge led the cast with characteristic exuberance and confidence as Ren, the teenager whose move from Chicago to Bomont sets the action in motion.  On arrival, he finds the small town in the thrall of the Reverend Moore, the authoritarian minister of the local church, under whose influence the town has banned dancing.  Felix Deemer successfully brought his character to life by portraying his inner turmoil as well as his outer conviction.  Kharesma Ravichandran added real star quality to the cast as his rebellious daughter, Ariel.  Already enjoying commercial success in India, her show-stopping rendition of Holding Out for a Hero was a real highlight of the production.  Ren’s rival for Ariel’s affections is local bad boy, Chuck Cranston, played with great attitude by Nicholas Manuelpillai.  Ren receives much needed support from Willard, played by Akash Gnanam, who was worryingly convincing as the dim but good-natured hick, and injected much of the humour into the show.  Lu u Lua Mohamed brought wonderful life and energy to the role of Rusty, Ariel’s best friend, and took the lead in much of the dancing.

The message that sometimes young people know better than adults is an important one, which will have resonated with many of the young audience.  Yet Ren’s efforts to overturn the ban on dancing only succeed when he abandons confrontation and recognises that the Reverend Moore’s close-mindedness is a consequence of his grief at the loss of his son.  This holds an important lesson to all our teenage students: always to see things from another person’s point of view and appreciate that there is reason for even the most inflexible approach.

After months of rehearsals, everyone involved can be very proud of the production’s success.  They will have inspired a whole new generation to believe that ‘this is our time to dance’.

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