03
Jun
08

high school musical, in beirut!

This is an amazing article about a production of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL in Beirut!  I’ve never been prouder to be associated with the project than I am because of the passion and collective soul of the kids who  put this on.  Read the article and let me know what you think.

 

ABC News

In Beirut , the Show Goes on Amid Violence

Violent Skirmishes Couldn’t Stop Lebanon ‘s Production of ‘High School Musical’

BY LARA SETRAKIAN

May 27, 2008—

Bringing “High School Musical” to the Middle East shouldn’t have been this hard.

The DVD sensation converted into musical theater by Disney, ABC’s parent company, has been staged in dozens of cities including London ,Taiwan and Buenos Aires always with the same story of song, dance and teenage romance, often using the same English-language script.

But “High School Musical’s” Lebanon edition was different. After months of practicing and preparation, it was time for opening night just as Beirut fell into a political crisis, with violence that chilled the capital.

They could have canceled the show, but they pushed forward, soldiered on, hoping their audience would brave the roadblocks and armed checkpoints across the city. While other Lebanese their age were picking up guns, the cast of “HSM” was busy bringing East High School to life.

“I live in the West Beirut area, which has been rough over the past few days,” said Marya Abdelrahman, who played the role of East High School drama teacher Miss Darbis. “But thinking of the stage made me focused.

“I just hope my family can make it to the show from that side of town,” she added.

“I was sitting at home, crying and waiting,” said Rania Ayash, who plays one of the lead roles as Sharpay Evans. “[‘High School Musical’] is my life. I stopped everything. I stopped university, I stopped my social life, I stopped my parents, just for this play.”

While the cast waited at home for gunfire to subside, they practiced their lines by phone and through Internet chat rooms, perfecting their parts. They all watched the DVD for inspiration, though some of them had to learn American English and its high school slang.

Ayash, who spent her childhood in Houston , could just focus on getting in character.

“I practiced my lines with my 96-year-old grandmother,” said Ayash. “I had to practice being a witch with a capital “B,” which was hard because I’m not usually that mean.”

Bernard Khalil, the Lebanese incarnation of basketball jock Chad Danforth, fits the part with his big, curly brown mane.

“My hair was always been like this, even before the play,” said Khalil, who sought tutoring to shake off his native French accent for the show. The results are mixed, but charming as he banters on stage with a Lebanese Troy Bolton played by Joseph Fadel.

On opening night, the house was full, despite the lingering threat of violence. The curtain went up at 5 p.m. sharp.

At the same time, in another part of town, the Arab League spoke before a crowd of reporters on a possible peace deal for Lebanon .

By the time “High School Musical” got to its big number the song, “We’re All in this Together” it was clear Lebanon ‘s fighting factions would go to Doha for talks to end the conflict.

Weathering the political turmoil outside, the cast turned “High School Musical” into a pep rally for Lebanon .

“Why can’t they take us as an example?” said Rania Ayash , Lebanon ‘s Sharpay Evans, of the bickering politicians. “We are all different sects, religions, and backgrounds. We are Druze, Shiite, Christian, Sunni, everything & and we’re one big happy family.”

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

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9 Responses to “high school musical, in beirut!”


  1. 1 Lamice Joujou
    September 22, 2008 at 9:03 am

    David,
    Let me introduce myself.
    I’m Lamice Joujou the producer of High School Musical -On stage in Beirut-Lebanon.
    I got into this site by total coincidence and i was so happy to read your note.
    We had a great time preparing and rehearsing for this show till the political situation exploded 10 days before our opening night and you know the rest…
    After all we did our opening a week later eventhough we thought well never get up on stage and perform.
    Taking the decision to do it in spite of everything is something i’m proud of and would never regret.
    I know that i owed it to those actors ,dancers,crew and fans and that i finally owe it to my country.
    I’m really happy again that yourself as the book writer of the production has had the chance to read the article.
    You can check the folowing link on you tube
    :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNb733QG9MA
    to check our opening scene a day before opening night,we had spent our night there in the theater, coz so many of us couldnt get home coz of the situation.
    God bless you
    Best Regards
    Lamice Joujou
    Theatre De mazitou
    Beirut-Lebanon

  2. 2 David
    September 27, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Larnice

    Thanks so much for your comment and for having the love and drive to put this on despite the biggest roadblocks this show has ever, or will ever see (i hope). I watched the video link and tears came to my eyes. I’m so thrilled, so honored that you guys did this.

    How is the city over there these days? It’s easy to sit over here in nyc and read about events slamming into different regions, it’s quite another to be in the middle of it.

    Do you produce other plays? Is there a theatre scene in Beirut? or was this a one time thing for you?

    again many congrats and much love to you

    yours

    david

  3. 3 Lamice
    October 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    David,
    I was so happy to read ur comment again.Beirut,now,is “breathing”..Thnx god..We are preparing to perform again this coming Xmas,in Beirut to give a chance to those who couldnt watch us before.
    We are planning as well for a Hannah Montanna concert in the coming summer..
    Lebanon,has always been known to host International shows,and great musicals and concerts..no matter what! Its the will of life..
    Our company has been producing local shows since 2001,and we are growing in the business..
    So good to hear from you
    As a matter of fact,we would like you to be our guest of honour in the coming show,be it in Beirut or Dubai.
    I will let you know soon.Your presence would mean a lot to us.
    All the best
    Lamice

  4. 4 David
    October 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Lamice

    What a wonderful surprise to hear from you again, And such good news that the theatre is again thriving and breathing and living over there.

    I would be honored and delighted to be your guest of honor. What time of the year are you thinking of? i’ve never been to eitehr Beirut or Dubai, so the experience would be a first in either city.

    I am always intersted in meeting with and working with theatre artists from all around the world, and would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your fellow artists on another project, if you think any of my work might be appropriate. youcan check some of my other scripts out right here on my website. much if it is VERY different in tone and subject matter than the stuff i do for disney.

    in any event, i look forward to hearing from you soon.

    my regualr email is davidsimpatico@yahoo.com

    yours

    david

  5. 5 luna idriss
    March 19, 2009 at 9:37 am

    wow lamice joujou

  6. 6 luna idriss
    March 19, 2009 at 9:38 am

    i love you

  7. 7 Maryanne ElChidiac
    December 29, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Dear Lamice Joujou,

    I am a big fan of High School Musical.
    I was wondering how can we buy tickets for High School Musical on stage in Lebanon on Sunday 3rd January 2010???

    From: Maryanne ElChidiac

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