“Sadly, due to the COVID situation in December 2021, we took the difficult decision to cancel our 2021 Pantomime, “Rumpelstiltskin”. Although we were not able to perform this show to parents as a live event as originally intended, we wanted the cast and their parents to have a record of the work done on the show, and so we recorded the production with a very small student audience to give you a small flavour of what the show might have been like.
Prince Michael Cast - with Michael Simmonds as Prince Charming, Kaiya Oakley as Nanna and Elle-Mai Foster as Kurtis (Thurs 16th Dec 2021)
Prince Harry Cast - with Harry Bond as Prince Charming, Gabriele Vologaite as Nanna and Kaiya Oakley as Kurtis (Wed 15th Dec 2021)
What was really nice to see, was that the bulk of the cast was largely made up of students who had never been onstage, or had a major role in one of our shows before.
Playing the part of Jen, our leading lady, was Ebonyeve Jones. Despite having barely any professional tutoring her raw talent is undeniable. She has been a total professional the whole time, a much admired member of the production and a real star of the future.
You can’t have a good story without a good villain, and the title role of “Rumpelstiltskin” was always going to be key. After seeing many strong contenders from KS4, Shanai Dowe, an unassuming year 8 student, took us all by surprise with her truly excellent characterisation, and left us with no choice but to cast her. When performing her scenes at an open day preview, many parents could not believe that a year 8 student could be so talented and confident!
All pantomimes also need a good dame, and we have one in Victor Zdyb! He has impressed us since his first audition and has not stopped impressing us since! He has shown total commitment to rehearsals, always attending even when feeling unwell, delivering his many lines with enthusiasm and characterisation, and what is all the more amazing, is that English is not even his first language! It takes a very special kind of bravery to wear a dress and perform as a woman in front of his own year group, so if he can do that, he can do anything!
In the leading man department we were fortunate to have two very different, but equally terrific young men playing the role of “Prince Charming”. Harry Bond has been extremely dedicated throughout the whole process, he deeply cares about every aspect of the production and wants it to be the best it can be, and gave a brilliant performance. In his alternate roles as an overly sensitive soldier and a goblin boyfriend, he proved to be a real comedic highlight.
We also welcomed a promising newcomer from Year 7, Michael Simmonds, to play the Prince in the alternate cast, and he has worked so hard to learn the many lines needed for the character but it has really paid off, his final performance really brought out the humour and energy of every scene he was in!
Talking of promising Year 7s, we must mention Elle-Mai Foster and Kaiya Oakley! Elle-Mai wowed us with her performance during the Year 7 CORE Day, and so, when a cast member was injured and unable to perform in the role of “Kurtis the Clown” at the very last moment, Elle-Mai was brought on, with just a few days to learn the lines, and only one day of proper rehearsal time with the cast. She stepped up to the challenge and delivered her jokes with great skill and enthusiasm! In the alternate cast, Kaiya Oakley played not only Kurtis, but alternated the role of “Nanna”, the Narrator. She has shown 100% commitment to rehearsals with great recall of her lines, and held her own confidently with more experienced cast members, even bossing the year 11’s around! She has made a terrific start to her time with us, well done Kaiya! In the alternate cast, the role of Nanna was played by another promising young actress, Gabriele Vologaite, who showed great characterisation, transforming herself into a grumpy old lady, and has been excellent at thinking on her feet and improvising in character if any scenes were going off the rails!
In the play, Nanna is telling the story to Toby, a spoilt baby boy. This part was recast very late in the process, and Tamara Chavula stepped up to learn the many lines in a very short space of time, and really bought a lot of attitude and humour to the part. We are really grateful to Tamara, if it wasn’t for her, the show could not have gone on!
Drama staff are fond of quoting Stanislavski – “there are no small parts, only small actors.” That has been proved true by Joe Gordon, an enthusiastic young actor who, although only having a relatively small role, has thrown himself into it with enthusiasm, so much so that we gave him a number of additional roles, including a memorable cameo as a dinosaur! His attendance at rehearsals has been excellent, and he is one of those students who just gets on with things without fuss.
Along with the less experienced performers who made up the bulk of the cast, we still had a solid backbone of reliable KS4 performers who have been a major part in previous productions. It has been heart-warming to see the evolution in performance from Alicia O’Dea, who was initially very shy and quiet in her earlier years, yet always would bravely put herself forward for speaking roles in every show we put on. With each show she has gained experience and confidence, and now it is clear how confident she has become, able to command the stage without a mic as the frightening “Witchfinder General” We are so proud of her progress!
We had so many great female auditionees we put them into a girl group, “The BFF’s” so that we could show off their singing and dancing skills to really bring up the energy levels of the show. Mia-Paige Leek has been a permanent fixture of our drama studio since the days of “Grease”, with never-ending enthusiasm, commitment and good humour. As a skilled dancer she has made a big contribution assisting in the choreography and rehearsal of the dance sequences. We are happy to announce that Mia will be playing the lead role of “Elle” in “Legally Blonde” in Summer 2022.
Joining her in the BFFs is another talented Year 11 student, Caroline Smith, whose smile, positivity, energy and talent light up the stage whenever she is on it. She has also been a major force in the dance routines being as good as they are. In Year 10 we have Paige Helm, who has also been a very regular feature of our school productions. Her commitment in rehearsals has been fabulous, she is one of our finest dancers and it was great to finally hear her singing voice in action! She even saved the day not once but twice when two separate cast members were unable to perform, she had to learn lines at short notice and learn a completely different piece of choreography, but she did it straight away without fuss. Well done, Paige!
Completing the lineup was Grace Walford-Ingram, a newcomer to our shows, making an impressive debut! She has always been dedicated in rehearsals and performing, even though unfortunately an accident cut short her appearances in the final show!
Sadly, this production would be the last for Bethany Davies, a driven and enthusiastic performer who has been with us since “Bugsy Malone” in 2016, and went on to star in the leading role of “Audrey” from “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2017. It was wonderful to see her return for one last performance as the villainous Queen Avarice. Her confidence has come on so much, and she gave a real masterclass in how to do pantomime facial expressions and exaggeration properly! We wish Beth every success with whatever she does after SWB!
Working separately from the main production was Miss Davies and her team of dancers, who have all worked so hard to learn the choreography in a short amount of time. They slotted into the show effortlessly and we are so greatful to every one of them. We could not mention the dancers without praising the efforts of Lily Morris. A superb dancer and very talented actress, she was originally cast in a key role until an injury prevented her from performing. However she always put in such effort in rehearsals, whether that was her own parts, standing in for others, or taking the lead in choreographing small groups for key sequences of the show. It is such a shame that she was not able to perform, but she will get her chance in the future, as she has recently been cast in a major role in “Legally Blonde,” she is really one to watch out for!
The backstage support has been equally important to the shows’ success, and we would like to thank Miss Neal and Miss Burdett, and their “Crafty Critters” group who worked hard on the costumes, goblin masks and set in an after school craft club. Everyone agreed your work looks great! I would also like to thank Miss Barton, our terrific new music teacher who has been working with our singers to boost their confidence and abilities, and it really shows! I would also like to thank Miss Tompkins who has been assisting with directing and who has brought everything together, keeping spirits high during the gruelling show week. A huge thank you to all staff who have supported with this project!
Thanks to Mollie Guy and Maya Bell, our backstage assistants, who kept everything running smoothly, and to Millie Roberts who was in charge of makeup, including the superb Goblin makeup effects on Rumpelstiltskin! She has her eye set on studying makeup at Sixth Form, and we wish her every success, she is very talented!
Special mention must go to Sophie Vincent, a year 8 whose intelligence, sensible attitude and professionalism would put most adults to shame. Sophie was in charge of the extremely demanding job of sound manager, which included operating the sound mixing desks as well as running technical checks on the many wireless mics we were using. Despite the many technical issues with the sound (none of them her fault!) she remained unflappable when dealing with these temperamental pieces of kit!
Working alongside Sophie was Arturs Brencs, who literally filled the stage with colour as the lighting desk operator, working quietly and professionally, using his instincts to create the different moods on the fly.
Finally, we would like to thank Dominic Jenkins and Millie Banks who, with literally a few minutes worth of training, took on the key role of camera operators to record both shows. Without their help, there would be no record of this production!
It has been a long journey to get “Rumpelstiltskin” on-stage, and we would like to thank each and every one of the cast and crew. Your talent, enthusiasm, humour and resilience in the face of adversity and disappointment makes you legends in our eyes!” - Mr Stevens, Writer and Director of "Rumpelstiltskin".
JEN - Ebonyeve Jones
RUMPELSTILTSKIN - Shanai Dowe
WIDOW TWANKEY - Victor Zdyb
PRINCE CHARMING - Harry Bond (Weds) Michael Simmonds (Thurs)
QUEEN AVARICE - Bethany Davies
NANNA - Gabriele Vologaite (Weds) Kaiya Oakley (Thurs)
TOBY - Tamara Chavula
WITCHFINDER GENERAL - Alicia O'Dea
KURTIS THE CLOWN - Kaiya Oakley (Weds) Elle-Mai Foster (Thurs)
SNORT - Mia-Paige Leek (Weds) Harry Bond (Thurs)
SOLDIER / ARCHBISHOP / ZIT / DINOSAUR - Joseph Gordon
TOBY's MOTHER - Kaiya Oakley (Weds) Gabriele Vologaite (Thurs)
JEN'S BFF's - Grace Walford-Ingram, Paige Helm, Caroline Smith and Mia-Paige Leek
DANCE CREW – Ashaya Blake, Cerys Gaskell, Paige Helm, Keeley Keane, Teagan Lloyd, Amelia Morris,
Scarlett Reynolds, Sherika Spence, Jainie Patel, Emilija Zurauskaite, Grace Walford-Ingram, Caroline Smith and Mia-Paige Leek.
Written and Directed by Mr Stevens
Assistant Direction by Miss Tompkins
Choreography by Miss Davies
Additional Choreography by Mr Stevens, Lily Morris, Ebonyeve Jones, Mia Leek and Caroline Smith
Vocal Coaching by Miss Barton
Lighting by Arturs Brencs
Microphones and Sound by Sophie Vincent
Makeup by Millie Roberts
Backstage Assistants - Maya Bell and Mollie Guy
Special thanks to Milly Banks, Dominic Jenkins, Miss Burdett, Miss Neale and “Crafty Critters”