9 August 2023

Top marks for students Walking on Sunshine for Southern Stars spectacular

| Jen White
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Hundreds of students at Southern Stars rehearsal.

Students from 14 schools rehearse their Southern Stars act, Walking on Sunshine, at Illawarra Sports Stadium. Photos: Jen White.

With just weeks remaining before thousands of students take to the Southern Stars stage, mass rehearsals are underway across the Illawarra to fine-tune acts that will amaze audiences.

The spectacular show will feature about 3000 students from more than 100 public schools, showcasing dance, drama and music performed to a live orchestra by students from Year 2 to Year 12.

Originally open to Illawarra and South Coast schools, Southern Stars has extended to accept schools from Greater Sydney and the Southern Highlands, and this year includes students from as far afield as the Riverina and Young.

READ ALSO 3000 young performers ready to embrace the experience of Southern Stars

The theme for this year’s show is ‘Embrace’, and tickets are selling quickly for the 25-26 August shows at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

Only the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped the show since its inception in 2001. This year’s show will include the NSW Public Schools Millennial Marching Band, Circus, the Rising Stars, Yanggaa Garaba, a full orchestra, drama, a 500-strong choir, 2000 dancers and featured artists.

This month, hundreds of students converged on Illawarra Sports Stadium to sync their moves for their individual routines, as well as their part in the show’s grand finale.

Choreographer Michelle Berwick was a supervising teacher in previous shows before taking on the challenge of directing mass groups of excited kids two years ago.

“Our item is Walking on Sunshine, so the vibe for our dance is very upbeat, fun, enjoying life, having fun with friends, positivity, and finding joy in movement and dance and having something to smile about every day – just embracing life,” she said.

Michelle has been directing about 360 students from 14 primary schools through Walking on Sunshine and their two finale items.

She said the students’ performance had been excellent.

“This is our second rehearsal here and they did such a good job at the first rehearsal that the production team gave me a little extra challenge to add into the choreography.

“But if people want to know what it was, they’re going to have to buy tickets and come and watch the show.”

READ ALSO New regional music body boss calls for music to return to the heart of primary school classrooms

Schools that will be Walking on Sunshine at the WIN Entertainment Centre on 25 and 26 August are from Albion Park, Bellambi, Gerringong, Lake Heights, Lake Illawarra, Lakelands, Mount Warrigal, Mount Terry, Port Kembla, Oak Flats, Shell Cove, Tullimbar, Warilla and Windang.

Public shows will be held at 7 pm on Friday 25 August, and at 1 pm and 7 pm on Saturday 26 August. Tickets are available by clicking here.

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