NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS A taster of our local schools’ fantastic performances: The Leys’ Matilda (top right) and Aladdin Junior at St Faith’s (right) rehearsals on alternate days,” explains David, who is quite evidently relishing the challenge. Pupils at St Faith’s School take part in two large-scale productions each year, with year 6 pupils shining in Disney’s Aladdin Junior (spring term) and year 8 pupils currently preparing for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – a (literally) sweet way for them to mark the end of their time at the school. At The Leys, director of drama and theatre John Johnson and director of performance Cory Pulman-Jones are undertaking some ambitious productions covering a gamut of styles and eras. Pupils from year 11 have starred in Confusions – a collection of five short comic plays by Alan Ayckbourn, dating from the 70s. And a cast of sixth formers have treated audiences to a thoughtful, nuanced take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol , with not a Muppet in sight – though certainly a period atmosphere, complete with authentic hanging lamps, spooky lights flickering whenever a ghost appeared and copious amounts of fog. “There’s quite a lot of humour… But I do believe the journey Scrooge goes through is less flippant than sometimes it’s portrayed,” insists Cory.
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West Side Story , the whole-school production from Stoke College, involves similar levels of thought, planning and production wizardry. “Above all, it’s about making sure everyone who wants to be involved can be,” explains Jo Davey, head of performing arts. “Anyone who auditions is a part of the process,” she confirms. Younger pupils encompassing years 7, 8 and 9 also have a separate chance to shine in their own production, The Jungle Book , which will be performed in the magical setting of the school’s own walled garden, complete with an orchard and rose bushes. “It’s all about getting that experience from a young age – and strengthening the quality of performance,” Jo points out. It’s not just the visible roles that pupils can shine in, either. Increasingly, they are providing essential backup and backstage roles with the panache and confidence of seasoned theatrical professionals.
74 MAY 2023 CAMBSEDITION.CO.UK
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