Tonight I went to the show of my old High School. I was flooded with happy memories of previous productions I had been involved with and a slight hint of sadness about the fact that my days in school shows are over. I have written before on The Theatre and how it can play an important role in developing peoples ability to work with others and primarily building confidence and friendships. These attributes were especially predominant in tonight’s performance.

The production that I went to see was “Into The Woods Junior”. It was only around an hour in running time but still features the key areas of the plot of the movie with the exemption of the second giant attack and the disappearance/ death of the witch. The songs within this play are technically very difficult and to attempt them in a fairly small High School of just over 500 pupils, in a production almost entirely directed, choreographed and produced by pupils, is highly ambitious.

This year the school allowed two S6 pupils produce/direct the musical- this is the first time the school have allowed this. This meant the entire thing relied on the commitment and dedication of young people. The musical is made up of people that are willing to stay behind after school and practice week in and week out to achieve the end result. As if that isn’t enough the production in question has a significant number of singing parts so to find skilled enough people to sing these parts is no mean feat and working with each person on making the most of their voice involves significant time and effort on behalf of the directors. I feel though that allowing the pupils to take control and have it truly as “their” musical should install a far greater sense of community and pride in what is presented.

In this production, as with any school production I have ever seen, it wasn’t perfect. There was the occasional pitching issue, volume problems and feedback (although this wasn’t their fault); however, it was on the whole a brilliant production. The songs were enthusiastic, exciting and pretty much on point. As in any school musical group, or really any musical group, there are those who get big roles and are expected to reach a certain standard. Tonight they truly met that standard and one in particular excelled beyond even my, frankly rather great, expectations. The way in which the character of the witch was presented was brilliant. The actor really understood the character and was able to use a very appropriate voice as well as a fitting attitude  which when combined with a stunning vocal performance it would be fair to say she stole the show.

As well as the old favourites there was also those reasonably new to theatre but have always shown great potential and enthusiasm who, in this production were given bigger roles or ones that allowed them to truly show off their abilities. A couple in particular caught my eye. Jack was played in a brilliant way with boundless energy and a personal attitude that allowed the actor to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the role. There are those who are just a pleasure to watch because you can see how much they are enjoying it and that they are really giving it everything, this actor is one of those people.

The other who I was particularly impressed with played the Prince who goes after Rapunzel. Having done previous shows with the person, I have seen how at times they can refrain themselves, especially in singing roles, but I have also witnessed him become gradually more confident in his abilities. I have to say that tonight’s performance, for me, epitomised how much the theatre can do for people as his performance was bold, confident, eccentric and just down right brilliant. I am a perfectionist and there is pretty much nothing I would change about how he played his character. What I found even more remarkable is that in the movie the character he plays is somewhat bland, at least in my eyes, but here is a strong lead character and it worked so well.

There are so many others performance I could and would quite happily write about but unfortunately I am somewhat going on a bit so I will summarise.

All of those involved in the musical should be very proud of themselves and one another. I also have to mention the guy who did the lighting so good job Sam. Finally I want to say something that resonated with me tonight. One of the directors said when asking how I found it “it’s a school production it doesn’t have to be perfect”. I want to take this a little further and say it isn’t meant to be perfect. The imperfections in it give it a quality that attracts other people to give it a shot and it provides a closer link with the audience. How the audience support those performing if there is a hiccup really emphasises the idea of community. Furthermore, imperfections allow the actors to become stronger as actors and to learn to adapt; amateur dramatics is about learning and adapting. If they were all perfect we would lose that warm, friendly comfortable nature that is a local production.

All in all it a was a great production put together by very passionate and talented people, many of whom I have had the great pleasure to act with. To rate it our of 10 seems cruel and besides the point in this case so I wont, all I want to say is congratulations.

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