Pure entertainment

By Himal Kotelawala

“Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest,” said William S. Gilbert. Meet Bill: your everyday insecure, miserable lovesick puppy. Bill is our hero, who thinks he is in love with Jessica, your average pretty woman walking down the street.

Amanda, Bill’s best friend, who just happens to be female, is his shoulder to cry on, his friend-in-need and faithful listener, every time he needs to complain about life (which all he ever seems to be doing). For too long has she been listening to Bill’s sorry tales of how he cannot seem to win the love and affection of the beautiful damsel Jessica.

Amanda, too, is in the receiving end of (excuse the bad pun) unrequited love – she is in love with her best friend. But Bill, bless him, is completely unaware of her feelings for him. But she doesn’t complain; oh, no. Amanda, the true friend that she is, grits her teeth and bares it all, never leaving her friend’s side.
Sounds like the plot to the most predictable romantic comedy in the world? (They’re all equally predictable, really).

Maybe so. But there is a twist – not to the plot, no – but to the delivery. The story, fortunately or unfortunately, is as predictable as ever. The delivery, however, is to die for.

‘Amore, a heart’s journey through song’ presented by the Old Joes’ Choir recently at the British School Auditorium was just that – a performance par excellence. Bill’s tale of finding true love in the form of his best friend Amanda, told through song – mostly oldies, but with the occasional modern pop song squeezed in, was a real visual and auditory treat.

Bill, Jessica and Amanda, portrayed by Dulika Jayamanne, Ashini Fernando and Shannon Misso, respectively, played their parts almost to perfection. But the real stars were the old Joes singers who sang their hearts out, in what appeared to be a happy reunion of sorts more than a staged performance.
Without a single line of spoken dialogue, the entire narrative was delivered using snippets from such classics as ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘Kiss the Girl’ and more recent hits such as ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz and ‘Accidentally in Love’ by Counting Crows.

On most occasions, a song would be sung to its full length, while on others only a chorus, or in some cases, just a single line, would be performed, with the actors acting out scenes of varying intensity.
For instance, when Bill is seen alone, pining for the Jessica’s heart, the boys in the choir would sing “Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely, I have nobody, to call my own," before quickly moving on to the next song.
You could see that every single one of the performers were having a ball of a time on stage. Even the members of the backing band which featured such talent as Eshantha himself on piano, Rukshan Aponso on synth, and Sarani and Uvindu Perera on guitar were having a blast. It wasn’t just a night for the boys, however.

The all-girl choir 'Contempo' were featured as a special guest, where they too would step in to take the story forward, melodiously chiming in with hits like "Say a Little Prayer for You". Like all soppy, predictable love stories, Amore too ended with a ‘and they lived happily ever after’ scenario, but it could be easily forgiven due to one important factor: the whole thing (the ending) was a truckload of fun to watch.The new lovebirds Bill and Amanda get married, with Contempo providing a hauntingly beautiful vocal rendition of the Wedding March, followed by something of a jam session, with everyone pitching in, boy choir, girl choir, band, conductors and all, singing Smash Mouth’s version of "I’m a Believer". It was good fun, and great entertainment.

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