After two years, numerous rehearsals, three awards and a pandemic, students and teachers from across Qatar Foundation (QF) schools strode onto the stage at Education City to perform the musical extravaganza for the first time before a live audience.
Sharing a passion for the performing arts and creative expression, the performers who worked relentlessly on stage and behind the scenes for months finally brought the community together to celebrate the stage debut of QF Schools Productions’ SHOWTIME! – giving the audience an experience they described as “magical”.
The inaugural music played by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra – a member of QF – and the stage lighting set the tone as excited parents and proud teachers – a blend of cultures and nationalities – cheered for their children and students as *SHOWTIME! hit the stage.
The students from Grades 3-12 at QF schools and their teachers, trained by Steve and Jane Griffiths and West End choreographer Christopher Piper, played favourites from musicals, including Wicked, Oliver, Annie, Hairspray, Mary Poppins, and Matilda.
The talents showcased by the students left their parents and teachers with overwhelming pride and happiness.
“Watching my son performing today made me so proud,” said Murad al-Malawy, a father of a student performing in SHOWTIME!. “It warms my heart to see him enjoying performing not only on stage, but during the past four months of rehearsals.”
“We have already felt the impact of this whole experience on him,” he added. “The happiness that comes from teamwork and from succeeding as a team has reflected very positively on his behaviour, and taking part in a performance at this level has given him the opportunity to discover the wider realm of the performing arts, including singing, dancing and performing, all at the same time.”
Teachers in the audience were equally overwhelmed.
“Seeing a student I’ve taught for over two years perform with such a powerful voice is amazing,” said Jess Hoffman, a teacher at Qatar Academy Doha (QAD), one of the schools under QF’s Pre-University Education.
“Watching this performance, with students and teachers performing side by side, I realise how much time and dedication it took for them to be able to produce such quality work and perform at such an exceptional level,” the primary schoolteacher added.
Agnes Braganza, also of the QAD, said the performance had revealed new potential in students outside of the classroom.
“It's really stunning to see students outside the school environment, being given a platform to discover their capabilities and hidden talents,” she said. “It is heartwarming to see how they have grown through taking part in this.”
The swift and smooth change of costumes, hairstyles, and make-up was one of the most eye-catching elements of the show, with Rawda al-Thani, the sister of another performer from the QAD who took part in SHOWTIME!, saying: “The costume changes, which brought a different theme with each performance of a song, was the most impressive part for me.”
“I was so happy to see my brother so engaged and confident after months he spent on practicing,” she said. “I believe this experience will be one to boost his confidence, creativity and allow him to express himself.”
“And what is really important is how it helped all the performers work together and be committed to what they were part of – skills that can be applied in many different ways for their future,” she added.