Over the years it has become a staple event on the local theatre calendar, and is well-known for its showcase of incredible high school talent: this Friday night, the annual variety concert that is Pimlico Presents returns to the Civic Theatre.
Pimlico State High School’s Damon Johnson has admired everything about the event from his very first time seeing it from the audience – and now, after participating in the showcase himself for the past two years, the year 12 student reflects on why Pimlico Presents appealed so much to him and his castmates.
PERFORMER'S NOTE: Damon Johnson
From the moment I stepped through the gates of Pimlico State High School, I was immersed and surrounded by the arts, in every form, in all their majesty.
As a part of the music excellence program that Pimlico proudly advocates, my experience with the arts began from day one. I, alongside fellow musicians, were immediately thrust into an ensemble and presented with a giant leap from our primary school bands which we were once ‘masters’ of.
We were placed among our peers, dependent upon our instruments, with string players streamed into the orchestral pathway and woodwind/brass players such as myself - a saxophonist ‘by trade’ - turned towards the concert band. Soon enough, after some months of getting settled, there came a time of year. A time where the best of the best were given ample time in the spotlight, in front of a sold out Civic Theatre. It was Pimlico Presents time…
Word spreads quickly among us students and as juniors, this concept of one giant show at the Civic Theatre was so very foreign. Originally we had no idea what this Pimlico Presents or so-called 'PimPres' was - however, as the details began to travel down the grapevine, we soon grasped that at Pimlico this show was huge.
I was swift to inform my parents of this amazing show - a show that, to a little grade 8 boy, was made out to rival the fantastic shows of Broadway itself… and there was no doubt that this was the case. Seated in the audience, I experienced my first ever PimPres, headlined by the opening item theme of ‘Queen’. Wow. I was hooked; the dance, the music and the drama all bestowed me with astonishment. This was backed up again with the ‘Michael Jackson’-themed PimPres in grade 9 again, fuelling my passion to be involved with such an event.
That time came quickly; grade 10 dawning on me, the bright sunlight of being able to participate in that year’s opening item theme, ‘Grease’ shone out among the ever-increasing work load as I approached my senior years. I had reached a new level this year, my first PimPres performance. Now I was a member of the prestigious PimPres cast, a member of what is no doubt a dream come true for any performing arts-savvy student at Pimlico High.
My first year participating would only be the appetiser for what was to come next. Grade 11 brought the transition to senior and the formidable prospect of being a step closer to the big wide world - alongside the opportunity to audition for a lead part in the brand new opening theme, ‘Lion King’. This I was successful in. I was cast as the beloved Pumba and got my first real ‘spotlighted’ role performing the evergreen anthem, Hakuna Matata. Not only did I land that role in the opening item but I was lucky enough to be a part of numerous other acts on the night, including Beethoven - where, by the side of one of my closest mates Prabasha Thilikaratne, I commentated the performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony like a Cowboys game in a hilarious act that left the audience in stitches.
So here I am now, beaming with confidence after being propelled and motivated by years of working my way up through the audition process which can, at times show no mercy. In 2017, the opening item theme is ‘James Bond’ and the seamless choreography and renditions of the most famous power-ballads will be accompanied by the Big Band; in which I am privileged enough to play the Baritone Saxophone. Pimlico Presents can be described simply as the most stressful and exciting time of the year simultaneously however, the inspiration and entertainment that it can bring is unprecedented. From a time when I was sitting in the audience mesmerised by the talent on offer at Pimlico High, I am now gifted with one final swansong. An opportunity for myself and my fellow seniors in the class of 2017 to leave the audience speechless, to capture the imagination of the junior cohorts, and to birth the next generation of PimPres stars. Stars, who I have no doubt, will shine brighter than ever before.
Pimlico Presents will showcase on 11 and 12 August at the Civic Theatre.
For show times and tickets, click here