Mr. Stevens here, and I would just like to say a few words on behalf of Mr Barbary and Creative Industries. Actually, it will probably be a lot of words, because I can’t stop enthusing about the best bunch of students I have had the honour to work with over the last few months, putting together our latest and greatest pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk. They have worked incredibly hard, and have had to put up with the disruption of postponed shows, limited rehearsal time , backstage drama and technical issues, and have come through it all to put on what is surely the best pantomime we have ever put on. Both casts excelled in different aspects and both blew away all previous performances!
Each one of these students is a star in their own right. Our lead role of Jack was performed brilliantly by Mia Paige-Leek and Olivia Harnett.
Mia has been in all of our school productions since year 7, and has grown in confidence and ability to a point where she now takes her rightful place as the lead of the entire show, her singing, dancing and acting delighted the audience, particularly her family who had come to support her, her tearful duet with her mother was a highlight! It was also great to see her share the stage with her best friend Millie, who played the cow (and I think, got the largest cheer of the night, and was many audience members favourite, even if all she did say was “Mooo!”) and also the Giantess. It has been fabulous to see her confidence blossom to the point where she can sing in front of a large audience, we expect great things of Millie in the future. What is great about Millie and Mia is, even though they have so much talent, they have no egos, and are humble enough to stay after school when everyone else has gone, going through choreography, practising, tidying up the room, organising props and costumes, and helping with makeup.
Alicia O’Dea has also been with us for a number of shows, and every time she gets better. Initially one of the quietest and unassuming girls you could meet, she has developed in confidence and character enormously, and has improved her vocal abilities to such a point that she doesn’t need a mic to hit the back row with her menacing performance as Lucre, the Rent Collector.
Olivia is a real breakthrough talent, this is her first show with SWB but she wowed us in the audition , her natural ability for comedy, improvisation and incredibly expressive face, not to mention an amazing singing voice that seems to have come out of nowhere, and she has been a truly superb Jack, having us, and the whole cast, in fits of laughter in every rehearsal.
We have had terrific fun with our Widow Twanky’s, Michael Bayliss and Toby Roberts. Michael is a natural performer and is brilliant (and LOUD!) in his scenes, and it’s been great to see how Toby has developed from a quiet performer into a full on pantomime dame, getting many of the best laughs of the night with his delivery.
The rest of the cast are largely new to performing, but in their own way have all excelled themselves.
Our two Prince Charming’s, Benas and Rashaeel, have both proved outstanding with learning their lines (even if Rashaeel can never quite tell the difference between saying “Woe is Me!” and “Who is Me?”, but we will let him off for now…). Rashaeel surprised us all with his excellent singing voice, and Benas has worked like a true professional, quietly getting on with things without any fuss, and giving a terrific and confident performance.
Another student who has surprised us with their singing skills has been Ky, with a very strong audition gained the part of the Giant. Only onstage for a short time, but making every moment count, and getting a very loud cheer from the audience! Our Giantess for Cast A was Millie Roberts making her singing debut, and for Cast B was Hollie Walker, who also had audience in stitches in the role of the Cow, Pat. She brought it to life beautifully with her facial expressions and sorrowful moo-ing!
Another student who has really grown in confidence is Lyric, and it was great to see him perform at his very best, in front of his family.
Our Cast B Giant was Adison, who looks like he is having the most fun of everyone onstage, whether he is an over the top villager, or stomping around as the Giant with a dodgy Scottish accent, it is clear he is having the time of his life performing Pantomime!
Our damsel in distress, Princess Flutterbutt, was brought to life by Harman and Chandhani. Harman has really thrown herself into the role, straining her voice (and our ears) with her screaming, but is a joy to watch. She is also 100% serious about her performing, always asking for feedback and tips, and is also a genuinely nice person, even cheering up the staff when times were hard and it looked like the show would not go on. Chandhani has also shown utmost commitment to her role, taking it very seriously and always keen to improve, battling nerves about performing in front of others but never letting it show.
Originally there was only one Princess in the show, but we were so impressed with the auditions of Rhiannon and Gemma, that we just had to create a new part to showcase their talents with the supporting role of Snow White .
Our show was narrated by “Fairy Liquid”, performed by Maya Bell and Georgia Jarvis, both of whom have been brilliant in their parts, even if it took them a while to master the art of “fluttering”!
The show wouldn’t be the same without our brilliant supporting cast, Lainey as Mr McDonald, who has shown amazing enthusiasm for her part and particularly in all the dance numbers, she is a true professional. We are very proud of how much Dakota has come on in her performing, and she was also a great Mr McDonald. Alexa the talking harp was played by Arturs Brencs, another student who just gets on with it and does everything he is expected to do, and Mollie Guy, who not only played Alexa but filled in at very short notice for another part without any fuss. We also love watching Daniel and Keavy who also just get on with it and do their parts brilliantly, great to see how they have come on over the months.
We must also make special mention of Caroline Smith, a young lady who joined the project later than everyone else, and so missed out on the chance to be cast in a lead role (which she surely would have been, she is such a dedicated performer!) but has done everything asked of her, including filling in for other parts at short notice, and we are sure we will see great things from her in the future where her talents can be developed further.
Finally, there is one person this whole production could not have gone on without – Brad Clayton in Year 10 , although a confident and talented performer in his own right, never took performing arts, yet he has become an honorary member of the team, always happy to help in any capacity, with dedication and enthusiasm. He has took on the massively challenging role of sound technician and lighting operator, making sure all the wireless mics are working properly, an incredibly complex task, which he has done without training, but without complaint. Without him, I don’t think the show would have happened!
It has been an absolute privilege working with these students, and we cant wait to see what they do next! Many of these students are born to be onstage, and when you’re born to do something, and you do it, you are truly alive.
A video of both casts is available below.
Wednesday Night – Mia Leek as Jack, Toby Roberts as Widow Twanky, Benas Ribikauskas as Prince Charming, with Millie Roberts, Ky Brown and Harman Singh.
Thursday Night – Olivia Harnett as Jack, Michael Bayliss as Widow Twanky, Reshaeel Tariq as Prince Charming, with Hollie Walker, Adison James and Chandhani Chawlia.