Entertainment of 2014-04-01

Glamour, pure talent at Ghana International School’s Aida adaptation

Colour. Music. Inspiration. These marked the amazing show of talents at the National Theatre on March 28 and 29 when students of Ghana International School mounted the stage for an adaptation of the award-winning musical, Aida.

The Roverman Productions-supported presentation transformed about 64 students of one of Ghana’s foremost international schools into nothing less than world class performers.

The stage was a spectacle of excellent lighting, that showcased a multicultural mix of music to herald the main performance.

As one of the directors, Selase Dzakamani – from the school’s literature department – explains, Aida was chosen this year “to represent the multicultural setting at Ghana International School and to inspire and teach the students to stand by what they believe in”.

But it would not be only the students who would be inspired by the show of class on Saturday March 29 at the National Theatre -- the final night of the two-day presentation.

From beginning to end the students overwhelmed their parents, colleagues and other guests with impressive acting skills that was evident in the passion with which delivered in their individual characters.

The Aida storyline – a combination of romance, bravery and tragedy – at first would seem like a tall order for your average teenage actor, but make no mistake. The GIS Junior High and Senior High students kept their colleagues and parents yelling in admiration throughout the show with their terrific presentation.

Set in ancient Egypt, the musical recounts the story of a Nubian princess Aida – played by Nana Afua Owusu-Boateng -- who is held prisoner in Egypt.

As a slave girl in powerful Egypt, Aida hides her true identity and incidentally becomes the handmaid for Princess Amneris, played by Christine Quist. Radames, played by Martin Nwosu Jr, is captain of the Egyptian army and forces Aida to wash his back, but in a rare show of defiance, she refuses, saying that although the Egyptian army took everything from the Nubians, they will never take their spirit

Radames eventually falls deeply in love with Aida although he is betrothed to Amneris. The Egyptian king intends to reward Radames for his great exploits at the battlefront by bestowing Amneris on him, and for him to become the successor.

The Egyptian king, played by Elikem Afeawo, also appoints Radames to supreme commander against Nubia.

Amneris is ecstatic about prospects of marrying Radames. But Radames is confused due to his love for the Nubian princess. Aida too feels deep sorrow for falling in love with her mistress’ lover and an enemy to his father’s kingdom.

After another Egyptian raid, Nubia falls completely, and among the prisoners brought home by the Egyptian army, Aida recognises her father, Amonasro (played by Chief Shaibu).

The captured Nubian king meets secretly with her enslaved daughter and compels her to end the love affair with Radames. So Aida goes to say goodbye to Radames and there Radames informs her that he is calling off a wedding with Amneris.

But Aida knows this would ruin an escape plan for his father, so she convinces Radames not go through with it.

Radames agrees on condition that she escapes to freedom on a boat he will provide.

The heartbroken lovers part ways, but Amneris has overhead their entire conversation and tries to face the fact that her upcoming marriage is a sham.

At the wedding, news of Amonasro’s escape disrupts evertything. And there Radames learns the truth about Aida’s true identity when he arrives at the docks just as she is about to board his boat with her father.

Aida is unable to escape with his father and she is arrested along with Radames for treason.

Now, the punishment for treason is the death penalty in ancient Egypt. Even though Amneris offers to save Rademes if he promises to deny the charges brought against him, love and marry her, he refuses and is prepared to die for his sins.

The heartbroken Egyptian princess reprises her role as a future Pharaoh by convincing her ailing father to let the lovers die in the same tomb, an act of mercy to the two people she has come to love.

Aida looks at Radames for strength. As they are slowly deprived of light and air, Radames swears he will search through a hundred lifetimes to find her again if he has to.

And in the contemporary world, the two lovers find each other in their reincarnated forms – as the statue of Amneris in a museum watches on.

Despite putting up a flawless performance as lead actor, Nana Afua Owusu-Boateng wants to be a doctor in the future.

"Maybe acting will be on the side…like a part time job, but definitely not full time”, she says although it easy to see why she might change her mind in the coming years.

But if she does become a doctor, with a voice like hers she could cure patients by singing to them.

Nana Afua explains that acting comes to her naturally, but getting into the Aida character was challenging – it took about five months of daily rehearsals and voice training to give off that excellent performance last Saturday.

Principal of GIS, Mrs Diana Nyatepe-Coo, believes Aida is the best and "most exciting" performance in the annual presentation that has been running for the past 7 years.

The school has performed many stage adaptations over the years such as the Annie, the Music Man, the Sound of Music, Fame, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Les Miserables.

The aim of the annual presentation is simply to “unearth talents, and show the world what students of Ghana International School are made of”, says Mrs Nyatepe-Coo. She explains that part of this year’s successful event was made possible by support from sponsors like Joy FM, Unibank (title sponsor), and Black Secrets Make-up.

Other sponsors include House of food, Metro TV, Global Media Alliance, YFM, e-TV Ghana Silverbird Lifestyle Stores Citi FM, Accraexpat.com and Wemp Multimedia.

Akorfa Wallace, Executive Assistant of Ghana International School, is confident next year’s performance will seek to outdo Aida.

That seems like a big task, but we can keep our fingers crossed and hope that the performance in March 2015 will once again rekindle our hopes in the future of Ghana’s arts and entertainment industry like the Aida performance has done.

Mr Pius Asabil and Miss Theopheilia Larbi were the music directors, while Mrs Juliette Vanderpuye and Mr Selase Dzakamani were the drama directors.

Mrs Vivian Boaten from Roverman Productions was the Critical Director.