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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: SPOTLIGHT SA (article first published : 2008-08-11)

Who all made it into the next round of M-Net’s exciting new original reality show High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa?

In the first episode, screened on August 2, Pieter Toerien and the show’s Creative Panel – theatre director Paul Warwick Griffin, musical director Charl-Johan Lingenfelder and choreographer Lorcia Cooper – found 25 potential Troys and Gabriellas for the forthcoming stage musical, High School Musical: Live On Stage.

Plenty of talented amateurs as well as seasoned professionals were prepared to give it their all at these auditions in Johannesburg, but as the essence of the show is to cast two specific roles in a musical, Toerien and his team were looking for very particular qualities.

Paul Warwick Griffin explained the selection process as follows: “What we’re looking for are our two leads, a leading man and a leading lady, and there’s an awful lot of responsibility that comes with that, so not only are they going to have to learn and crack the American accent, they’re going to have to crack the choreography and the singing. But there are other elements, the so-called ‘X Factor’, which is very difficult to teach somebody. I guess with any luck we’ll find ourselves a couple of rough diamonds and it’s going to be a case of polishing them up.”

Johannesburg was the only audition point in Gauteng and so auditions were spread over four days to cope with the demand. The first two days were devoted to registration and the preliminary round, where the performers auditioned for industry professionals. Those who received a callback returned on the Saturday for a gruelling day of singing and dancing workshops in preparation for three rounds of further auditions for Pieter Toerien and the Creative Panel on the Sunday.

By the end of that exhausting process, the Creative Panel had found their Top 40. “It’s incredibly scary for us all, knowing that out of these people we’ve got now – our Troy and our Gabriella are somewhere in the mix,” said a delighted Charl-Johan Lingenfelder.

Producer Peter Toerien warned that “the next eight weeks are going to be the toughest these kids have ever had, but they’re going to learn so much. This is going to be an experience they’ll never forget and every day that each child stays in the competition is going to be very important to them,” he added. “I think we’re going to have a real competition on our hands!”

KZN talented youngsters are among the Top 40 group: From Durban, there’s Danaë Rau; Daniel Wessels; David Schlachter; Geraldine Singh; Josslyn Hlenti, and Meranda Elisha. From Pietermaritzburg, there’s Carl Ellis; Jarryd Nurden; Mario Ogle and Zolani Shangase.

High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa will be broadcast weekly on Mondays and Saturdays on M-Net at 19h00. The series is produced by EdenRage Media.




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