A few weeks back I recharged my emotional and musical batteries at the excellent show put on by the GAMPA kids at the John Mac Hall, our youth is always a joy to watch and listen to. They sung and they danced their hearts out to songs from the musical ‘The Greatest Showman’ but the extra treat was that the first half of the show was led by Christian Santos and Andrea Simpson doing what they do best, belting out great tunes from other great musicals of their choice.
Sometimes they sang solo and other times in duets with each other or with GAMPA star pupils Ella Vinet and Sean Jeffries. A substantial chorus line from the school sang behind them when it fitted the songs and a reduced chorus line was there for the more intimate ballads. Even a better treat for me and a significant step up, was that the musical accompaniment throughout the first half, was performed ‘live’ by an ensemble of GAMPA musicians who excelled in their roles and always complemented the singers under the baton of their musical director pianist Mr. Monjes. He led an ensemble which featured two strings, a flute and a sax, drums and bass. They were really good and provided the ‘light and shade’ that great songs need to breathe and weave their magic spell on us.
What an absolute joy to be able to witness and enjoy such a rich programme of stage music which barely a few years ago would have been unthinkable, not to say unachievable. I was so proud to have been there to soak up the magic that was conjured up in a music spectacle that raises the bar even higher for GAMPA academy. I do not exaggerate when I say that it was indeed ‘the greatest show’ ever put on by the academy and a fitting finale to this year’s summer term where they have finally been released from the woes of the Covid restrictions after two years.
The sell out audience, upstairs swelled sometimes by the non-performing juniors and infants, were loud and generous in their applause and there is no greater reward for a performing artist than their home public’s acclaim. Christian Santos, never usually lost for words was right to have felt rightly proud of what our children and youth are constantly achieving in music and performing. However we must not overlook the fact that he is an artist himself and he delivered great vocals in spades last Friday, flanked by the talented and charming Andrea Simpson.
In part two the seniors were in their element singing and performing with great conviction. The programme also saw the upcoming acting and performing ‘little ones’ go through their paces and shine in the spotlight, later giving way to the seniors in their resplendent ‘Show’ costumes which added flair to the busy dance routines and with the clever triangular formation choreography that we have now come to expect from this group, they always kept up the momentum and helped to highlight the soloists’ efforts at stage front.
Let’s not take this significant achievement lightly or God forbid, for granted. We can become blasé about too much of a good thing, but in one of his always warm and admiring comments about Andrea Simpson, Christian said it ‘was easy to take her for granted because she made it look easy’. That’s where the nub is, these GAMPA kids are such seasoned performers that we have come to expect very high standards. It’s not easy to impress an audience- you have to be good and deliver on all fronts.
These are very high standard young performers and long may the GAMPA academy rule the boards of our theatres. Our music culture is dripping wet with young talent and it enriches our community. Well done all for putting your hearts and soul into this great evening of entertainment. I salute you.