A review of Kilgraston’s magical ‘Portraits of Christmas’ spectacular
The Nativity story is one of the best-known tales around. Not, however, this version. Kilgraston’s ‘Portraits of Christmas’ certainly painted a vivid picture of a traditional scene, while simultaneously giving it a liberal dusting of artistic licence. And the audience loved it.
Billed as a ‘cross-school production’, and held at Perth’s Concert Hall on Friday 7 December 2018, ages five to eighteen rallied, bringing alive Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem through a narrative of verse and humorous conjecture in this one-off Christmas ‘KBC’ special: that’s the Kilgraston Broadcasting Company.
“Do you realise how hard it is to hire a donkey costume at this time of year?!” exclaimed an exasperated ‘TV exec’. The ‘donkey’ was in fact a horse and, in a further unexpected twist, the Heads of Geography and English, Messers Phillips and Kearns, surprised everyone by emerging, separately, from their fluffy constraint. “Pull yourselves’ together,” shouted the pupil-Exec. Teachers obeyed.
Ruth M’s beautifully iconic a capella, ‘No Room, No Room’, was accompanied by poster-sized flashcards telling us that the ‘Bethlehem Marriott, Hilton and Premier Inns were full for the night.’
The production was unexpected from the onset when the school’s Pipes and Drums band silently appeared on a pitch-black stage, only to give a stirring rendition of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ with the aid of luminous glow sticks. Mary and Joseph may well have been following a bright star over Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but the audience followed the dashing flashes just as closely.
Junior performers had their say in a modern way with a jaunty ‘Roman Rap’ as soldiers gathered to track down the Messiah. Dave Godfrey’s ‘yeah high ‘Sat Nav Song’ embraced the whole stage – and some of the audience too – dozy do’ing and flossing along their foot-tapping journey.
This show constantly surprised and never more so than with the quality of traditional melodies. The ‘Breath of Heaven’ duet – a heart-felt rendition of Mary’s difficult predicament – by pupils Amy B and Tabitha K, certainly gave the hairs on the back of your neck something to think about, while Libby B S’s timbre during Kirk Franklin’s sweeping gospel ‘Joy!’ swept you away from a stage in Perth and off to a deep-south plantation.
But this was very definitely a performance soaked in Scottish inflection. Did fiddles appear in the original Bethlehem stable? They certainly did tonight, giving ‘How Suddenly a Baby Cries’ a definite tartan twang. Even Highland Dancer, Bridget S-B, performing some intricate steps, seemed entirely in keeping with this unique interpretation. The green and blue clad choir clutched candles and swung to the various rhythms like a murmuration of well-rehearsed song birds.
The last laugh though must go to Sara D’s feisty ‘Herod’. “Phew” exclaimed the three Wise Men as they left the mean King’s chamber after a thorough grilling. “I’m not dead yet,” he (she) barked as acolytes dragged him (her) kicking from the stage.
An ambitious production, humorously delivered by a broad age-range of talent. This was a delightful piece of festive entertainment, where cast and audience fully engaged with the traditional take.
MUSIC at Kilgraston
DRAMA at Kilgraston
And don’t just take our word for it…one Courier reader felt so inspired by the show that he wrote to the paper…thank you sir!
A fine show all round
The Courier & Advertiser 12 Dec 2018
Sir, – As a regular theatre and concert goer I had the privilege of being in the audience for Kilgraston school’s presentation of Portraits of Christmas on December 7.
The whole production was really glorious with the story of the Nativity running throughout along with marvellous music from the orchestra and choir.
The highlights for me were the solo singing performances, while the moment when King Herod died was really magical.
I am sure that many a professional company could not have done better.
Thank you all at Kilgraston for a memorable evening. Jim Balneaves. Tayside Place, Glencarse.
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