English musical flair

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 February, 2007, 12:00am

Learning ENGLISH can be fun and can get your adrenaline pumping, according to a group of students who took part in an English-language musical.

Sixteen girls from Pooi To Middle School and five boys from Tang King Po School performed in Broadway Express on February 3 and 4, at the Jockey Club Auditorium of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The programme was one of the educational projects of the Hong Kong Arts Festival's Young Friends scheme.

The performers were selected from the 100 students that auditioned.

'We chose the students who had potential in dancing and singing, and most importantly, confidence,' said Holly Eng, an English teacher at Pooi To Middle School, and the school-based co-ordinator of the project.

The novice cast had to undergo months of intensive musical theatre training in singing, dancing and acting.

They were trained by theatre professionals including choreographer Penny Tse and vocal coach Sarah Yeung, while Mohamed Drissi, chairman of the Hong Kong Musical Theatre Federation, oversaw the whole production.

Broadway Express is a kaleidoscopic musical theatre featuring excerpts from Broadway musicals such as Show Boat (1927), considered to be the first true American 'musical play', and the 2003 Tony Award-winning Avenue Q and Wicked.

Other highlights are Guys & Dolls (1950), Fiddler on the Roof (1964) and Little Shop of Horrors (1982).

Joey Law Cho-yi, a Form Six student from Pooi To Middle School, said she likes romantic musical songs. They helped make learning English - through memorising the lyrics - enjoyable.

'In school, we mainly focus on exam skills such as doing past papers. The subject matter is usually serious. But musicals are light-hearted and romantic,' said Joey.

'In rehearsals, we were taught not just to recite the lines but to articulate them with emotion. This is something you don't have the chance to practise in class,' she said.

Form Three student Christine Siu Wai-ki was one of the soloists. She sang such songs as Luck Be a Lady from Guys and Dolls, and What I did for Love from A Chorus Line.

'This has definitely boosted my confidence,' she said.