School students who are members of a book club in the city will stage a musical, an adaption of the book Goal! Butterfingers. The play has been directed, produced and scripted by them. They talk about the musical that is being staged for charity

These youngsters, all 17 of them, have certainly got their act together. They sing, dance and act and that’s not all. They have also written the script, directed it and garnered sponsors for a musical to be staged in the city on February 3. Indeed, they have scored big with their adaption of Goal! Butterfingers, written by city-based author Khyrunnisa A. The actors, students of Holy Angels Convent (ICSE), L'école Chempaka, St. Thomas Residential School (STRS) and Trivandrum International School (TRINS), are avid readers who bond over books and more in a book club, Sparks, which was begun in 2007 to “ignite minds with new ideas and fresh thinking”.

Every week the members of Sparks get together to read, review, discuss, debate, conduct quizzes, do projects on various subjects and go on picnics. “For instance, when we read Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile, we also discussed the kind of flora and fauna that the Nile supports. We rounded off discussions on the book with a trip to Meenmutty,” explains 13-year-old Nayanika Krishnan, a students of TRINS.

It was during one such book reading session that they decided to stage and produce a musical. It was not for kicks but to raise money for charity. After much thought and, of course, discussions, they choose Goal! Butterfingers. “It was a book we had all read and enjoyed. Instead of staging something that had already been done, we were keen on doing our own musical,” says Aparna Vijay Kumar, a student of Class eight, STRS.

After getting the nod from the author and Penguin, the publishers, they got down to work. Beginning with identifying the scriptwriter, they selected the students best suited for different tasks. Adapting a 200-page book with many characters is not an easy assignment, as the budding actors discovered. But, with perseverance, Nayanika wrote the script for the musical that has three acts and 12 scenes. “Ms. Khyrunnisa uses a lot of puns that are funny when you read the book. But I found that all the puns need not sound humorous when we use them as dialogues. I had to rewrite those parts and also change the storyline a bit to make it suitable for the stage,” says Nayanika.

The children organised themselves into groups, each in charge of a certain task. So a five-member group did the presentation to raise funds, while other groups took care of music, dance, props, costumes, finance and so on. With consummate ease they take curious visitors and would-be sponsors through the idea behind the musical and the reasons for staging one in a power point presentation that could well be the envy of corporate personnel.

Next was the audition to cast the actors. They invited Khyrunnisa for the audition and the children read the parts to discover the right person for each of the characters.

Some of them play two roles while some double up as musicians, dancers and singers too. Agreeing that balancing school and rehearsals were not easy, Sanjana Scaria adds: “We began rehearsals from October. In addition, we had to meet sponsors and persuade them to support the project. It involved time management too.”

As the actors go through their acts in hectic rehearsals at the residence of Sankar Krishnan and Divya Krishnan, the efforts of the cast and crew members are palpable. A little space in the house transforms into a classroom, the Princi’s room, a stadium and a noisy playground. Imaginatively designed acts capture the thrill of the football matches while the students live their roles on stage.

Says Divya, credited as one of the two overall coaches on the website of the Sparks: “We thought it was remarkable, the way they gelled as a team and organised everything on their own. Even examinations did not stop them from their rehearsals. In fact, Hareesh has his boards, yet, he has been into the play without a break.”

The musical will be staged at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, on February 3 at 6 p.m. Prior to the play, art students of NISH will hold an exhibition of their work from 5 p.m. onwards. Entry is by pass only. The musical, perhaps the first in the city, has set such high standards that it would be a tough act to follow. These sparks certainly sparkle! For passes contact: 9846021107

Short takes

They have uploaded shorts on the making of the musical on YouTube, complete with music and crisp write-ups.

Sankar, the other overall coach, says with pride how the children met corporate heads, spoke to them and persuaded them to sponsor the show and worked out the logistics too with very little help from grown-ups, read parents

The money raised goes to help children in need and the two institutions, chosen by the children themselves, are National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) and Regional Cancer Centre (RCC). The Sparks hope to give scholarships to deserving students of NISH. At RCC, they plan to use the funds for the Poor Patient Fund and /or the Free Drug Bank for patients who cannot afford treatment.

There are three songs and two dances and a medley. In addition to Shakira’s football anthem ‘Waka Waka’, and Queen’s rousing ‘We are the champions’, the children render Rabindranth’s Tagore’s soulful ‘Ekla Chalo Re’.