St. Andrew’s Zonal Talent Contest. A programme carefully curated and cultivated through the years, a stage for men, women and children to showcase their talent and skill. Over the years, the Andrean Zonals has grown and given rise to numerous professional actors, directors and singers, leaving each and every person who has been part of it with beautiful memories and precious moments.

With humble beginnings from the Bosco hall to a much larger auditorium, the Zonals gives everyone a chance to portray their talent and passion. Msgr. Nereus Rodrigues, the curator of the Andrean Zonals, worked along with a couple of other people from the Parish in 1953 and watched his brainchild grow larger with each passing year. What started off as the Andrean Zonal Talent Contest, with the demarcation of different zones each year, has now grown to become the St. Andrews All Bandra Parish Talent Contest. Initially, singing and theatre were the two main attractions; now, as times have changed, the Zonals have evolved to include performances such as elocution, poster painting, choir singing, instrumental sets and dancing. The upcoming, 62nd edition of the Andrean Zonals includes a wide range of performances and a whole lot of fun. As a small token, we asked certain people who have been closely associated with the Zonals for a few words about their journey through, and with the Andrean Zonals.

Kenneth Fernandes and his brother, Ashley, participated and accompanied several contestants over the years. Kenneth has taken a break from the Zonals to give other people a chance to showcase their talent. “If you want to develop talent, it’s an excellent place to begin. The youth and everyone else have a chance to prove themselves. For me, it’s been a really nice journey”, says Kenneth.

Brian Tellis journey has been a two-fold journey, as a participant and now, organizing it. “It’s been fabulous”, says Brian, “the Zonals are something that I owe a lot to. Besides the joy of taking part and competing it has also helped me hone my skills.” He feels it is now time to give back and is very happily involved in helping organize the Zonals and grow it. During his early teenage years as a participant, he fondly remembers the year he had great results in the Zonals which led to him being noticed and cast in the musical, Grease. As an organizer, one of the landmark moments was the year the Zonals was made an All Bandra Inter-Parish Talent Contest. “It has now evolved from a single Parish to about 7 or 8 Parishes in Bandra, it has evolved from just music and theatre to dance and elocution, through the years. It has been a wonderful and happy growth”, says Brian.

Annabelle Ferro believes the Zonals is a great learning and experimental ground since there is a great stage, great production values and a very enthusiastic audience. This makes it a great package for experimenting with theatre. “My heart lies in local theatre and you can’t experiment much with local theatre if you’re doing a commercial show. It’s been a fun journey to experiment and to see your live audience reacting to what you have created; that has given me the greatest joy”, says Annabelle. For her, working with young people has been a highlight, “They are so open, to enter your world, understand it and co-operate with you in theatre. That was what I absolutely enjoyed, working with them. Whenever I do a play, I’m never backstage. I’m always seated with the audience watching their reactions and expressions; it’s a different kind of feeling watching people react to what I’ve envisioned in my head.” Another source of immense happiness is watching her work translated from paper to stage. All that she visualizes in her head, watching these young people take it to another level when they perform on stage, gives her a lot of joy. “It’s like; someone has taken what you’ve written on a piece of paper and breathed life into it. That has given me so much happiness and this is possible only if you do local theatre”, says Annabelle.

Sharon Van’Drine feels the Zonals is a very, very good platform to showcase young talent and the categories included, are excellent. The thought of incorporating all the other Parishes is a very good thing and can give rise to more talent.

Denzil Smith has many fond memories of the Zonals, calling it a great platform for encouraging new talent & an excellent showcase for us locals, of Bandra. The Zonals instills a feeling of community & camaraderie amongst everybody, along with teamwork as long as the competition is healthy. He says, “It’s a great platform, a wonderful platform I think, since a lot of talent gets noticed there. People, from a very young age or even older, can display their talent.” One of the fond memories he has, is being the director, of a play which they won. “It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of jubilation, celebration & a beautiful sense of team spirit was fostered”, Denzil reminisces.

Daniel D’souza started off with the Zonals as a young boy, at the age of 16. “It was a great platform to start off with. Being young and enthusiastic, I tried my hand at everything, including directing, lights, sounds, costumes and acting. Basically, everything”, says Daniel. His first experience of theatre was all comprehensive and his learning curve was sharp, at the young age of 16. “The other amazing thing about the Zonals is that you get to do theatre and try out these different things at St. Andrews Auditorium, a space that has some of the best technical equipment in the city. Being able to work at that kind of a level was a great learning experience for me.” The high point for Daniel was producing his first play and winning a number of awards that year on his first attempt. He also loved working with different zones.

Samantha Edwards began her journey with the Zonals at the tender age of five. “The Andrean Zonals is an excellent platform for people to perform. It’s a fabulous stage and provides an opportunity for people to showcase their talent and passion”, she says. Apart from the numerous and wonderful memories, a certain one that stands out is the year she performed at the Zonals and scored a perfect 10 on 10, from all the judges. “The Zonals, now, include elocution and other competitions apart from theatre and singing, which is so much better”, says Samantha, “the Zonals helped me hone my skills and talent.”

The St. Andrews All Bandra Zonal Talent Contest, held each year, is holding its 62nd presentation this year.

Kicking off, on the 13th of August and followed up on the 20th of August, are the Music contests (for all age groups) which include Duets & Quartets & Choral groups.

On Sunday, the 27th of August, the Elocution and Dance Contests begin, which include Solo and Group categories.

On a bright and cheerful note, the 2nd and 3rd of September (Saturday and Sunday), Dramatics and theatre bring the Zonals to an end; for this year.

Oh, for all you creative people out there, a poster competition awaits! The theme for the poster competition is ‘A Melting Pot of Talent’.

So, turn up as a participant or get comfy in your seat as part of the audience; either way, there’s a whole new level of fun and camaraderie that awaits you.

Visit for more details.

Nayan Sreenivasan