AN X Factor style event at Southampton’s Turner Sims saw music students compete to have their songs featured in a brand new musical about Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.

It came after more than 500 schools and colleges signed up to be part of Fidel the Musical, the brainchild of Dr Denise Baden from Southampton University’s Business School.

Pupils, including several from Southampton schools, performed their songs in front of a panel of music professionals and a live audience.

Everyone was able to vote and help decide which songs should be in the musical- dubbed a musical 'by the people for the people', which tells the story of how Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution pulls through against the odds.

The winning number was 'Hasta la Victoria' by Alfie Aukett from Epsom College. The context for the song is Fidel grieving for the death of his friend Che Guevara.

Denise Baden, who has written the script, said all the songs were completely different, from a dance number to a protest song, whilst the winning song was very moving.

Che was killed by the CIA-assisted Bolivian forces in Bolivia in 1967. The Cuban people and Fidel Castro were devastated at the loss of their hero and the winning song covers Fidel's moving speech to the Cuban people when he announces the loss of their beloved Che Guevara.

Those attending the gala night have been taking to the Facebook page of Fidel the Musical to rave about this exciting new show.

Sharon Hawkins enthused:" Really inspiring evening and I was amazed at the standard of the entries. What a fantastic way to get everyone involved from every walk of life - a musical for the people by the people. Well done on a thought provoking and entertaining evening."

Susan Parkinson commented:" I was very impressed with the whole event - the songs were of a good standard and had a lot of variety to them. The judges were very helpful giving great, constructive feedback to the artists which I think will only help the Fidel musical. The winning song gave me goosebumps - beautiful song,well constructed and beautifully sung. Cant wait to hear more."

Richard Hull added: "Really great event - the whole concept and the musical ideas were put across really well and I learned a huge amount about Cuba and Cuban history."

Proud Southampton parent Heather Chandler commented: "...our daughter was one of the song writers/performers from Redbridge Community School and we are so pleased they had the opportunity to take part in this fantastic event! Considering they are in year 9 (and one in yr 7), I think they did incredibly well and we're so proud!"

Such has been the popularity of this project with so many more school wishing to have been involved that the competition will now run for a further six months. Anyone interested should check out details on the website

The first 'mini performance' of Fidel the Musical will be on July 14 or 15 at Bitterne Park School. This will be extracts from the musical based on Mayflower Youth Theatre workshops.

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