Global Awareness

DVGS Presents: Lost in the Stars

Written by the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2022

Developing Virtue Secondary School closes its spring school term by performing a brilliant retelling of Cry, the Beloved Country, the novel by Alan Paton that recounts the early days of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Spearheading this production are the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 who, along with the school’s musical clubs, have constructed an opera and drama filled with lush songs, spiritual choruses, and a touch of jazz to tell a powerful story of race, justice, and power. Compiled into an audio podcast, the students present the expertly-wrought story through a selection of songs that includes “Thousands of Miles,” “Cry, the Beloved Country,” “Big Mole,” “Murder in Parkwold,” and finally, “Lost in the Stars.”

In the title song “Lost in the Stars”, a South African Anglican priest experiences a crisis of faith. The Rev. Stephen Kumalo has arrived at Johannesburg after receiving a letter with news of his sister’s recent troubles. While there, he also seeks out his son, Absalom. Absalom has fallen in with bad company since Rev. Kumalo saw him last, blinded by golden promises and easy profit. The song, aptly also named “Lost in the Stars”, expresses Kumalo’s inner spiritual conflict, telling of a time when God “held all the stars in the palm of his hand… and they ran through his fingers like grains of sand, and one little star fell alone.”

The musical play first premiered on Broadway in 1949 after its creation as a collaboration between lyricist Maxwell Anderson and composer Kurt Weill. Since its debut, its music has found expression in the hands of skilled stars such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughan, and more. Through many performances and revivals, “Lost in the Stars” is a poignant tale that has survived the currents of time. Its themes continue to be relevant to this day, and its plot is a valuable slice of history in the 21st century. The zealous racial discrimination affecting every aspect of South African society, as well as the poverty and lack of opportunity that drives Absalom to his final act of desperation all serves as warnings of how injustice thrives when events are allowed to control the will of the people.

Cast Reflections:

  • Heidi Blythe: “The play and most of the songs in it has a weary tread that matches the musical’s weighty plot and complex characters. Despite this, the musical does have its unexpected moments. I especially enjoyed listening to “Big Mole” that is infused with a rare instance of playfulness and laughter.”
  • Asia Wijaya: “As we read through the words in the play, we can only imagine how it sounds. We have to read, understand, and visualize the words, all at the same time. With the musical play, it became easier to comprehend the play. Plus, it was very fun to record it.”
  • Naomi Seng: “My favorite part about the play was learning how to sing the beautiful songs with my partners and also trying our best to harmonize it. Although the acting part was quite challenging, I have found new ways to portray my character more skillfully.”
  • Karen Liang: “I never imagined being able to be a part of this exciting and interesting play. Working together and discussing each component was really enjoyable and I loved hearing our voices harmonize.”
  • Iris Ng: “Singing the song Big Black Mole with my singing group was the best part of the whole production! I was able to exercise my vocal skills and have fun working with the members.”
  • Rachel Blythe: “Recording an audio version of a play is very new to me, and I had to use various tricks to fully stand into the shoes and skin of my character to portray the character well. After great teamwork and time and effort put into planning and recording, I hope that this radio theater version was able to show the audiences the emotions and circumstances that each character felt.”
  • Sola Long: “It was an interesting and new experience for me, as opposed to stage plays, radio theater eliminates visuals and puts the center of attention on the sounds. I enjoyed it
  • Nina Xie: “It was a fun experience learning how to piece together a play with sound effects and voice recordings. I really enjoyed working together with all the other characters.”
  • Audrey Chan: “It was an interesting experience in trying to express everything a character has to deliver only through my voice. The process of searching for what kind of tone, voice, and emotion I should use for my role and when to be flexible with the options was very interesting and I learned a lot from that process.”
  • Thuy Nguyen: “From the voice dramatization of the play to the singing and instrumentals, the experience was very exciting and it brought out my musical side. Watching how everything came together to create a complete production has been amazing.”
  • Katherine Chen: “I actually had an amazing time recording this theatrical motion. It was also a nice experience. I learned how to create a tone that matched my character. Therefore, I had a lot of fun, and we indeed laughed a lot together even though we struggled a bit.”
  • JiaJia Ni: “The voice recording experience gives me a closer look of the characters of the play, pushing me to consider what the characters might be thinking when I’m saying the words of theirs.”
  • Kaitlin Harness: “Ever a fan of musical theatre, exploring a new medium of storytelling was so interesting and has changed my perceptions about the vocal significance of emotional exhibition. Getting to take part in this small production has given me the chance to artistically express myself during a time when live interactions are not possible.”
  • Megan Truong: “After familiarizing myself with my character, Irina, and getting used to the relationships she is in with the other characters, the task became much more enjoyable. It was definitely an interesting experience–learning to express emotions only through our voices.”
  • Jaimie Yu: “I am thankful that we got a chance to produce this play. On top of the vocal techniques and the thorough understanding of the plot, we practiced teamwork and overcame the challenge of the digital barrier.”