The Evita Factor

We meet the young performers who will be treading the boards at Dubai Opera

Activities

We love a good sing-song, and since the opening of Dubai Opera in 2016, the dunes are alive with the sound of music. This is in a large part down to the talented young whips frequenting the many performance-arts schools in the UAE, and now our homegrown talent is being celebrated like never before. For the first time, last November, Dubai Opera opened its spectacular doors for open auditions for legendary musical Evita and singers and dancers from local schools flocked in their droves. Judges had their work cut out, but eventually the finalists were chosen. Here we meet some of the little superstars who will be treading the boards when Evita takes to the opera stage later this month. All together now, Don’t cry for me ARGENTINAAAAA!

The Soloists
Name: Saira Sultan.

Age: 10.
School: GEMS Jumeirah Primary School.
Saira says: My hobbies are gymnastics, sports, acrobatics, baking, dancing, kitchen science experiments and being chosen as a soloist for Evita. Singing makes me happy. I love performing in singing, drama and dance. When I found out I had been chosen I was overwhelmed, ecstatic, nervous, honoured and surprised. I’m looking forward to being a soloist on such a huge stage with such prestigious stars and professionals.

Name: Jasmine Vergia.

Age: 9.
School: Dubai Performing Art Academy.
Jasmine says: I am amazed that I managed to get so far in the Evita auditions. I never imagined this could ever happen to me. I didn’t expect that I would get the solo part! I am lost for words, I’m thrilled. I can’t wait for the rehearsals and shows to start.

The Chorus
Name:
Aritro Chatterjee.

Age: 10.
School: GEMS Jumeirah Primary School.
Aritro says: Music and singing are the closest things to my heart (apart from friends, family and maths). I was over-joyed when I heard the news. It was like a dream come true! In the Evita production, I am looking forward to improving my voice and singing onstage with the famous Evita broadway!

Name: Nael Clague.

Age: 10.
School: GEMS Jumeirah Primary School.
Nael says: Singing is something that makes me happy. It makes me feel free and helps me to express myself. I enjoy listening to classic rock. Some of my favorite artists are Coldplay, Elvis Presley and ACDC. I was excited and shocked to be chosen for Evita and could not believe it. I’m looking forward to being part of a super cast and the excitement of rehearsals. It will be my first time performing on such a big stage outside school and I’m just happy to be there.

Name: Luna Clements.

Age: 9.
School: Dubai Performing Arts Academy.
Luna says: I found the auditions quite scary, but I was very proud of myself when I finished. I was nervous to sing a solo. There were so many people at the audition so I know I am very lucky to be given this opportunity. My teachers at my school are all coming to watch me on the stage.

Name: Francesca Dowds.

Age: 11.
School: Dubai Performing Arts Academy.
Francesca says: I loved the auditions and I was really excited when I was performing my piece to the judges. When my mum told me I was jumping up and down and I couldn’t believe I was successful. My grandparents and a few friends will be travelling from Scotland to come and watch me perform. I’m really looking forward to the shows.

Name: Omar El Toukhy.

Age: 11.
School: GEMS Jumeirah Primary School.
Nael says: My hobbies are guitar, tennis and singing. Evita is my most important accomplishment. Every time I listen to music it makes me want to dance and makes me feel alive and ready for anything. I called my mum to tell her I hurt my ankle playing sports and she told me I was in. I was crying with joy and on my knees. I am really looking forward to the shows and I cannot wait to stare out at the endless audience.

Name: Angelique Hill.

Age: 10.
School: GEMS Jumeirah Primary School.
Angelique says: I love singing and performing and feel happiest on stage. At first I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy and surprised. I wasn’t expecting to be selected even though I was hoping for it. It was the best news and I keep getting excited every time I hear about it. I’m looking forward to getting on the Opera stage, looking out at the crowd and singing, seeing all the amazing performers. Just thinking about being part of that is amazing. I can’t wait!

Name: Gio Kim.

Age: 9.
School: GEMS Jumeirah Primary School.
Gio says: My hobbies are singing, playing the piano and drama, and I feel relaxed, encouraged and confident when I’m doing these things. I feel unbelievably happy to be chosen for Evita because it’s my dream to be an actress. I’m looking forward to having a chance to perform with the actors and actresses, being on stage in front of many people and making my family proud.

Name: Natalie Lopez.

Age: 11.
School: Diverse Choreography.

Name: Isabella Lucci.

Age: 11.
School: Diverse Choreography.

Name: Keir Marshall.

Age: 10.
School: Diverse Choreography.
Keir says: I feel amazing! I feel like I have achieved something amazing that I’m very proud of. I’m shocked that I am going to be able to perform on the Opera stage, and I can’t wait!

Name: Tommy Newbould.

Age: 9.
School: GEMS Wellington Academy Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Tommy says: It’s a great honour to be in Evita and to be chosen out of all the children who auditioned makes me very happy. I’m going to give it all I’ve got in the shows and I can’t wait for the experience of performing at the Opera House!

Name: Jaden Shentall-Lee.

Age: 9.
School: Dubai Performing Arts Academy.
Jaden says: I was really practising lots when I first heard about the auditions and when I got to them I felt really happy to be there. I’m very excited to be performing Evita at Dubai Opera House. When my Mum and Dad told me that I got in I was very surprised but most importantly I was excited. I can’t wait!

Name: Star Lily Shentall-Lee.

Age: 8.
School: Dubai Performing Arts Academy.
Star Lily says: I was excited about the audition and I really enjoyed the opportunity. Going on the main stage was pretty cool too. I’m looking forward to performing in front of all the people at Dubai Opera.

Name: Ryan Somaiah.

Age: 11.
School: Diverse Choreography.

Name: Gabriella Vernon.

Age: 12.
School: Dubai Performing Arts Academy.
Gabriella says: I am really excited for the live shows, I think it will be a great experience. I was very nervous for the audition but my friends and DPA teachers were there to support me.

Name: Lucas Vernon.

Age: 8.
School: Dubai Performing Arts Academy.
Lucas says: I felt a bit nervous, but very excited. It was nice to see so many children from all over Dubai audition together. When I got told the news, I started jumping up and down. I’m really looking forward to the shows and performing with the professional cast. I feel very lucky to get this opportunity.

Name: Zara Vintcent.

Age: 9.
School: Diverse Choreography.
Zara says: I am so excited for the chance to perform in a professional show in the biggest theatre in Dubai! I’m so glad that the producers have chosen me to take part in this amazing opportunity. I’m really looking forward to meeting so many talented people and I can’t wait to work with them.

Name: Téah Brooke Willoughby.

Age: 10.
School: GEMS Wellington Academy Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Téah says: I’m very passionate about performing arts, and I’m thrilled for this amazing opportunity to join the cast of Evita at the Dubai Opera House.

Thanks to all the Evita kids who came back to us with their comments before the Christmas deadline, and apologies to those who were away and unable to hit it. We wish them all extremely well and can’t wait to see them perform live!
Tickets from Dhs250 (kids aged two and above subject to full ticket price, kids under two not permitted). 8pm, Jan 22-Feb 3. www.dubaiopera.com.

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