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St Anne's brings Moana Jr. to the stage

GIPPSLAND Grammar students have wind in their sails as they take to the open water as ‘wayfarers’ for the St Anne’s campus production of Moana Jr.

Based on the hit 2016 Disney musical Moana and featuring music by American music legend Lin-Manuel Miranda, Moana Jr. sees all 318 St Anne’s students from Foundation to Year 6 bring the magic of Moana to life on The Wedge Performing Arts Centre.

Under the direction of St Anne’s music teachers Katie Germaine and Laura Evans, the students have been divided into two separate casts with each cast performing two shows. There are four performances in total on Wednesday June 12 and Thursday June 13 with shows at 5pm and 7pm.

St Anne’s Campus Music Co-ordinator and Moana Jr. director Katie Germaine said “using the double cast approach has meant that students could be given the opportunity to take on leading and ensemble roles.”

Mrs Germaine explained further: “We developed the concept of dividing the campus into two casts by using our already well-established House groups,” she said. “Two houses - Cranswick Dargo and Blundell Bogong – have formed one cast and Tisdall Hotham and Wellington Binks have formed the other.

“Students in Years 5 and 6 make up the cast and each year level is highlighted in a scene from the musical. The casts are also supported by our school choirs and we also have a student-led ‘Art Crew’ under the guidance of (St Anne’s art teacher) Louise Hulls, who has developed the amazing props. Even the backstage crew is a dedicated team of St Anne’s students.”

“This has been fabulous as not only has it meant that all siblings are in the same cast, regardless of their year level, but it’s also meant we’ve been able to harness the House camaraderie that already exists and bring this team spirit into the performing arts.”

Previously, only students from Years 3-6 have been involved in the junior campus productions and Year 2 student Olivia Rowley is thrilled to be given the opportunity to appear on stage this year.

“My favourite thing about being in Moana Jr. is that I get to perform with the whole school,” she said. “And my parents will be there to watch me.”

Year 4 student Olivia Taylor agreed. “It's a really good experience to actually go on stage and dance,” Olivia said. “I'm also part of the choir and it's really fun to learn how to sing. I just think it's a great opportunity.”

Louisa Greenwell, mother of Year 6 student Charlotte - who plays Hei Hei the rooster in the Thursday performances - and Year 3 student Lillian, said Moana Jr. has been a lovely experience in a supportive environment for her daughters to gain confidence on the stage.

“This has been a fantastic experience for both of them, particularly Lillian who is only in Year 3,” Mrs Greenwell said. “And doing it together has meant they have been able to practice the songs at home. I love that they have been given the opportunity to explore the Arts, it’s not something that all schools are able to do.”

Mrs Greenwell has also volunteered her time to help with the costumes and has been busy sewing 52 crab claws. “The girls have helped with that too and that’s also given them insight into what goes on behind the scenes,” Mrs Greenwell said.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Moana storyline, the title character is a strong-willed daughter of the chief of a Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess.

Through the power of music and storytelling, Moana Jr. inspires the young students to discover their inner strength, courage and the importance of embracing their unique journeys. Some of the hit Moana songs that are also in Moana Jr include ‘How Far I’ll Go’, ‘Where You Are’, ‘We Know The Way’, ‘Shiny’ and, of course, the chart-topping smash hit ‘You’re Welcome’.

Head of St Anne’s Campus Jie Van Berkel said while the campus showcases a musical production every two years, Moana Jr has been particularly popular among the students.

“It’s been fantastic to see our entire campus community embrace and rise up to this opportunity,” Mr Van Berkel said.

Moana Jr. is a 60-minute show that be performed on the following dates at The Wedge Performing Arts Centre, Sale.

Wednesday June 12:
5pm and 7pm (Cast #1, featuring students in Cranswick Dargo and Blundell Bogong Houses)
Thursday June 13: 5pm and 7pm (Cast #2, featuring students from Wellington Binks and Tisdall Hotham Houses)

adults $30, concession/child $20, family $95

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