Amelia Soars To New Heights

19 Nov

Amelia Henderson

Amelia Henderson

Amelia Henderson’s life has reached new heights since the musical Peter Pan came along. DENNIS CHUA gets the low down.

Kitty Aguila-Cortes
Kitty Aguila-Cortes

LIKE many a young girl growing up on fairy tales, Amelia Thripura Henderson wanted to be a fairy, even more so when the musical Peter Pan came along. Oh, for a part as a fairy. Any fairy.

But Amelia, 12, was destined for higher things. She was to be the fairy, Peter Pan’s faithful sidekick and confidant, Tinkerbell.

Having appeared in numerous plays, musicals and television commercials, Amelia’s acting career literally took off with Peter Pan.

For the role meant a fair bit of “flying” alongside Peter (lead actor Ryutaro Yanagita), the Darling children Wendy (Hannah Foster), John (Edward Hargrave) and Michael (Julian Sewell), and the Fairy Queen (Jessica Caplan).

Amelia has taken “flight” before, courtesy of special effects, in a Caltex advertisement on television.

But Peter Pan required her to physically get off the ground, being lifted into the air like a real fairy, and sprinkling “fairy dust” from the ceiling of the Istana Budaya stage with Yanagita.

“It was a little scary getting lifted off the ground, but our flying director (Tracy Nunnally) assured us we were in safe hands because we were harnessed tightly and linked to well-maintained and well-supervised cables,” she said.

Amelia, of Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, is very happy to have made new friends among the cast and counts Yanagita as one of them. “Ryutaro is always positive, sociable and funny. It’s great to be with him. Likewise Hannah, Edward and Julian, who are friendly and eager to learn new things.”

She is also happy that ABA Productions, the musical’s producer, roped in 13 other Malaysians aged between nine and 14 to play the fairies.

Amelia learned about auditions for Peter Pan through the newspapers and was persuaded by her mother to “try her luck”.

A pupil of Alice Smith School in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Amelia has taken part in close to 10 plays or musicals including The King And I and Vision 2020.

She has appeared in about 50 television advertisements and in television shows such as Millennium Child, Warna Ungu, Keluarga Adam and A Tropical Christmas.

She also dances with the Junior Sayang Dancers and has her own column in Bintang Kecil magazine.

Excelling in ballet and tap dancing, as well as playing the piano, Amelia won the Disney Singing Sensation 2006 competition and hopes to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Another Malaysian “fairy” in Peter Pan is 10-year-old Aina Nadia Shah of Kuala Lumpur.

She said: “I’ve always loved Peter Pan as he is a children’s superhero. Being a fairy, one of the good guys, is a wonderful experience, even if I do not fly.”

A traditional dancer with the Swatari troupe that is part of Pak Ngah Productions, Aina has been performing on stage since the age of seven.

She is best remembered for performing alongside pop phenomenon Asmawi (Mawi) Ani in Anugerah Era 2005 and Adibah Noor in Anugerah Juara Lagu 2006.

Aina studies at Convent Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur, and is in the school choir. She has also appeared in RTM1 children’s musical show Selamat Pagi Putera Puteri and has modelled for Malaysian Women’s Weekly magazine.

Choreographer Kitty Aguila-Cortes is impressed with the enthusiasm and resourcefulness of the young actors.

“They have a natural ability to improvise their dance moves and even in the sword-fight and flying scenes,” she said.

Aguila-Cortes said lead actors Yanagita, Henderson, Foster, Hargrave and Sewell had great chemistry, and a natural flair for entertaining. She is all praise for the Malaysian “fairies” who fitted nicely into their roles.

“It’s been a wonderful, energetic and fun-filled experience, as the youngsters are so committed and eager to make the play a success,” she said.

Aguila-Cortes, a Filipina based in Hong Kong, is also a scriptwriter and director. She studied and performed classical and modern theatre in the United States and Britain and has appeared in more than 20 plays including Hello, Dolly!, Chicago and Grease.

n Peter Pan is staged at Istana Budaya, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. The season runs until Nov 25; showtime is 8.30pm Wednesday to Saturday, with 3pm matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets: RM263, RM223, RM183, RM153, RM103 and RM73 (Wednesday and Thursday), and RM283, RM253, RM203, RM173, RM123 and RM93 (Friday to Sunday).

Call 03-7711-5000.

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