Schools Spectacular countdown begins

Thousands of students united for a massive Spec rehearsal, with just one month to go to showtime. Alyssa Terese and Julee Brienen report.

Students with their hands in the air. Students with their hands in the air.
Image: School Spectacular celebrates its 40th year in 2023. Photo: Anna Warr

More than 2500 students from hundreds of NSW public schools came together at Qudos Bank Arena to perfect dance, drama, circus, and drumming routines at the Schools Spectacular’s first combined rehearsal ahead of the show’s 40th anniversary on November 24 and 25.

For the first time in Schools Spectacular history, six students have led the choreography of the show’s all-in finale.

Chloe Amey and Amy Nilon, friends from Karabar High School, are two of the six student choreographers who created the finale that stars all 2200 dancers.

“This rehearsal is the first time we’ve seen it all come together and the dancers are doing really well,” Amy said.

“We’ve incorporated the iconic Spec moves that are always in the finale, but we think we’ve brought a lot of fun to the number that we’re excited for everyone to see,” added Chloe.

First-time performer Zahra Cawley from Morgan Street Public School in Broken Hill travelled more than 1000 kilometres to attend the rehearsal.

“My dad and I flew from Adelaide to Sydney and our flight was cancelled. We arrived at 12am this morning but it was worth it,” she laughed.

Zahra is a featured artist in several numbers, including a Mad Hatter’s tea party-themed performance in which she plays the part of Alice.

NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar was at the rehearsal on Monday to see how the show was progressing and gave words of encouragement to the students, including two of his children who are in this year’s performance.

Executive producer Richard Spiewak said it was inspiring to have Mr Dizdar at the rehearsal for most of the day.

“The Secretary’s presence shows both the students and teachers that the Arts are an important part of education and create a well-rounded student,” he said.

“The show is looking exciting and will be a fabulous 40th birthday tribute to everyone who has been a part of Schools Spectacular or attended over the past four decades.”

Mr Spiewak said although the show will pay homage to the production’s 40-year history, the main focus will be on what’s to come for the next 40 years.

“This year we have new staging, we’ve made the choir more a show feature, we have incorporated audience participation and for the first time we have a DJ,” he said.

“The show will be more interactive than in the past and we are eager to make it even better with each year.”

This year’s featured artists range in age from 11 to 18 years and will join more than 5500 performers from public schools across the state for this year’s live performances at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on 24 and 25 November.

The world’s largest annual amateur variety show is produced by the Department of Education’s Arts Unit.

For more information on Schools Spectacular including this year’s FabuloUS Featured Artists and the Schools Spectacular arena show, SpecFest, visit the Schools Spectacular website.

Tickets for Schools Spectacular 2023 – Fabulous are available through Ticketek.

The Schools Spectacular is proudly supported by sponsors and supporters: Telstra, NSW Teachers Federation, School Bytes, RØDE, Smartsalary, Teachers Health, Colmed Group, Steinway Australia, Sony Australia and Event Partners: Qudos Bank Arena, Seven Network and Ticketek.

Students in matching black shirts with their hands in the air. Students in matching black shirts with their hands in the air.
Image: Students gathered at Qudos Bank Arena to perfect dance, drama, circus, and drumming routines at a combined rehearsal on Monday 30 October. Photo: Anna Warr
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