Passionate about music

2011-07-19 00:00

“LIFE is like a river, you never touch the same water twice… so make the most of every opportunity that comes your way”. This message underpins both the story of the Rural School ­Musical show, and the philosophy of the young performers who star in it.

Rural School Musical is an educational, rural musical project, started by midlands resident, Brendan Grealy and his wife, Annie Robinson, about four years ago. Following some reality-style auditions, pupils in Grades 8 to 11 at Nottingham Road Combined School, were chosen to take part in the musical. None of them had ever acted professionally before.

“The concept is based on the ­reality-television idea,” Grealy explained. “I’m not really a fan of reality TV, but every now and then, it throws up something good. Just look at Susan Boyle [the middle-aged British singer who took the world by storm after appearing on the X-Factor in the United Kingdom].

“Everyone has a light in them, and it’s up to us to help them to let it shine. South Africans have a passion for listening to stories, and for storytelling. There are wonderful stories everywhere, and these youngsters are sharing theirs.”

The process has been a long one, and the show has been created from scratch. Abri Venter, the musical director at Michaelhouse, has written the music, and each week Grealy and Robinson would transport the children to the private school in Balgowan, to learn, and later record the songs.

Robinson, whose dinner-theatre thrillers alongside Paul Spence are hugely popular in Pietermaritzburg and the midlands, shared her experience as an actress with the young cast, helping to mould their performances.

“It has been such an exciting process to create something like this from scratch, and to see these children being given the opportunity to create music in such a privileged environment,” Grealy added.

The Rural School Musical had its first professional airing at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse, where the story of a group of youngsters from Bruntville in Mooi River, who reject drugs, crime, and the pitfalls of teenage pregnancy, in favour of studying hard and working together to compete in a major dance competition, found an enthusiastic audience among the Michaelhouse pupils and invited guests.

Each of the performers shares his or her idea for the future, and stresses the message of abstinence, and the need to stop the spread of HIV/Aids, as well as the dangers associated with drinking and drugs — something they underline in a scene in which a bar brawl at a sheebeen ends in a death.

Grealy said their ultimate aim is for the project to be extended to other schools and communities. “We don’t want to create a one-off show, but rather a sustainable project for these children that will provide them, their families and their community, with an income,” he added.

“The idea is that the show will be performed at shopping centres, hotels, community centres, school halls, etc. We have opened a bank account, and the young performers will take a percentage of the money raised from performances for themselves and their families, with another percentage going to their school.”

Ultimately, the couple would like to hold an annual Rural Schools Musical festival in the midlands, for the general public.

• For more information, phone Brendan Grealy at 083 227 2376 or e-mail brendan@corriecampbell. or phone Annie Robinson at 082 895 1042.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.