Dolna students in a scene from the musical, The Wizard of Oz. Picture by Arnab Mondal
A tiny fledgling fell from its nest on the campus of Dolna Day School one day and was nursed to health by the students, who took turns to nurture and feed it till it was strong enough to fly again. The children named it Oz, after the musical they were rehearsing for. The bonding among the students showed on stage too when they put up The Wizard of Oz, a musical, recently.
The performance at Kala Mandir was all about teamwork — from acting to direction and music to props and costumes.
“We’ve been flooded with congratulatory calls and messages ever since. We’re glad people have appreciated the teamwork. Even the minor and secondary characters performed wonderfully,” said Madhura Bhattacharya, the principal.
More than 100 students of classes VIII to XII took part in the play based on L. Frank Baum’s book and directed by Neelanjana Dasgupta, assistant teacher of English. “I started off with the film script before making alterations. We shortened some portions because we didn’t want the musical to be too lengthy. I also had to keep in mind the capability of the students,” she said.
Other teachers pitched in with the costumes while senior students, under the guidance of ex-student and art teacher Nilabja Bhattacharya, conceptualised and designed the sets and props.
“Every two students were given a particular prop to work on. We went out to buy the raw material all by ourselves and learnt how to bargain hard at the shops. Most of the artwork was done by art students but others also chipped in. It took us a month to get the props and sets ready,” said Debasmith Barua, a Class XII student who was in charge of sets and props.
The period costumes were designed by Madhusree Dasgupta, the founder of the school, and many of the accessories worn by the characters — bonnets, hats and jackets — were tailored by the teachers under her guidance.
Pianist Jyotishka Dasgupta composed the music while a live choir was trained by Jayanthi Bunyan, who helped them with the right enunciation. Notations were flown in from Mumbai and both helped train students for choir as well as solo performances.
But it was hardly all work and no play for the students. “We had a great time during the rehearsals that lasted for more than two months. A lot of hard work has gone into it. The entire team grew very close while working on it together,” said Disha Mojumder, a Class XII student who played Dorothy.
Agreed Rick Bhattacharya, a Class XII student who played the lion. “It has been a crazy and hectic journey. But a wonderful one at the same time. A lion needn’t show his prowess all the time. His quest for courage is what I take back from the role I essayed.”
The hard work showed as the students got a standing ovation from the audience.
Filmmaker and Dolna alumni Srijit Mukherji loved the production, all the more because it reminded him of his schooldays. “Even today I’m scared of the prayer meeting we used to have in school at 9.30am. I came in as a baby to Dolna and left after Class X boards. I have so many memories that I can’t even start recounting them,” he said, smiling and clapping loud.