British actress collaborates with locals to host workshops for students

Picture caption: Sir Rodney Williams (5th from right) with Lady Sandra Williams (far left) hosted the British team for breakfast. English actress Savannah Stevenson (4th from left) and team of musicians seen here with ABYSO Board member, Roberto Falangola (far right) (Photo courtesy –ABYSO)

British Actress and Singer Savannah Stevenson arrived in Antigua on Sunday September 2, to participate in a musical theatre workshop with students. Under the patronage of their Excellencies Sir Rodney Williams and Lady  Sandra Williams, the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra (ABYSO) and in collaboration with the Antigua Girls’ High School’s Honey Bee Theatre and the National Youth Theatre, students from across Antigua and Barbuda will participate in an intense one-week workshop which will culminate in a production titled “This is Me”, on Sunday, September, 9.

Known for her role as “Glinda” the Good Witch in the London Broadway production of Wicked, the Guildford School of Acting First Class Scholar, shares an extensive acting portfolio, which includes roles as “Sybil Evers” in the stage adaptation of the Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire; the original title role in Simply Cinderella, and she was in the original West End casts of Mary Poppins and Gone with the Wind. She has also done adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Love Never Dies (a sequel to the Phantom of the Opera). Stevenson also played Mary, Mother of Jesus, in the film version of the New Testament for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is elated to be a part of such an exciting workshop and is looking forward to working with the teachers and the students.

Music and theatre students will begin the school year on a high note as while the headliner actress works along with theatre teachers and students, the music teachers and students will also be fully engaged with a host of accomplished musicians who are also on island assisting with the capacity building of the ABYSO. Strings, brass, wind and percussion students in our schools will benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience from the team which, when combined, spans well over 75 years of musical excellence.

The team will be working closely with local practitioners and theatre arts teachers who will be co-facilitating the workshop with her. Playwright and director Zahra Airall comes on board as the lead theatre director, Vinema Jarvis as vocal coach and Abi McCoy as lead choreographer. Tiffany Smith and Clarita Thomas have been the main co-lead orchestra coordinators. While most students participating are music and theatre students preparing for the CXC Music and Theatre Arts examination, the invitation has been extended for other interested students to participate in this venture resulting in a healthy mix of students from the public and private schools.

The entire initiative did not come together by chance but was carefully orchestrated by Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill, Antigua’s High Commissioner to London. From the inception of her post, Commissioner Hill has made it a mandate to strengthen the cultural ties between Antigua and Barbuda and Britain in an effort to not only expose the country to other artforms, but to expose Britain to the talent of our own people. The National Youth Choir recently concluded a performance tour to England where they performed a myriad of songs including Antiguan folk and soca songs.

Once the workshops have concluded, the students along with Savannah Stevenson, will perform “This Is Me” which will include selections from the British actress, the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra, and a short Broadway-type presentation from the students in the workshop. The production takes place on Sunday, September 9, at 5 p.m., at the Precision Centre. Tickets are available at Woods Pharmacy, Paperclips, Best of Books, Crab Hole Liquors and the Pink Mongoose for $30 adults, and $20 students.

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