Highfields School Drama and Music departments are incredibly proud of the recent sell-out production of Footloose. With over 100 students involved from years 7-13, as well as staff members, the performances were a tremendous success - concluding with a standing ovation and a VIP guest on Saturday night. In this fun loving musical, cit boy Ren (played by Year 9 student Jamie Smith) thinks his life is over when he is forced to move to Bomont, an American rural backwater. Things are far worse than he could have ever imagined, as the town has banned dancing. It isn't long before Ren can't resist breaking the rules, and he's not alone. He finds friends such as Willard and Rusty (played by Year 12's Jack Marriott and Emily Field) and romance with Ariel (played by Daisy Hinde from Year 10) along his journey to change the law and the opinion on Rev. Shaw (played by Year 12 Charlie Drury) and the rest of the townspeople.
The show was directed by Head of Drama and Theatre Miss Bonsall who was incredibly impressed by the students' commitment to the performance and their dedicated focus throughout. Head of Music, Kris Rowley, ensured the musical performances were to an exceptionally high standard. The band, which consisted of woodwind, brass, bass guitar, keyboards and drums and percussion was made up of students and staff members of the music department. Both Miss Bonsall and Mr Rowley auditioned the students in February and since them the students have rehearsed 3 nights and 3 lunchtimes a week, as well as a full weekend just before the performance - fitting around the World Cup schedule, of course!
Props and scenery were brilliantly created with help from the Art department and site staff. Backstage was run by year 9 and 10 drama GCSE students and year 11 students Charlie Travers and Eve Bond were responsible for lighting. Ellis Ball, in year 11, took care of the show's photography. Director Miss Bonsall choreographed most of the dances and was assisted by Year 12 students Molly Diggle and Ben Jones as the shows Dance Captains for this year.
The almost 80-strong chorusand ensemble sang and danced to a very high standard and gave alll their energy to every performance. Every single member was accurate and completely in character throughout. The lead roles managed to really convey a variety of ages and backgrounds of the characters despite the fact that they are all secondary students. Only one staff member was a member of the cast, and that was Mr Redhead, head of year 9, as 'Cop' - a running tradition at Highfields. An audience member praised "the hugely inclusive cast" and that "every child had a chance to shine, rotating who was seen on stage throughout".
Generous support from the local community was gratefully received, such as stage set from JEC Scaffolding Ltd and advertising signage firm MVIS. 25 different local firms donated raffle prizes.
Miss Bonsall said, "I am tremendously proud of the commitment and talent that our students have shown. We have given six public performances and each one has astounded me with their level of musical and theatrical quality. The performances represent a huge amount of hard work and dedication from everyone involved and I am very excited that we have produced such an impressive level of quality in every aspect of the production - from the acting, singing and dancing to musical accompaniment, backstage and lighting and sound. This was my second full production at Highfields and although an incredibly ambitious show with a huge cast, we feel we pulled it off! After Little Shop of Horror's last year, and Footloose this year, I am already looking forward to producing next year's musical."
On Saturday night our VIP guest was James Lomas, a West End and Olivier award winning actor, who visited Highfields to inspire students across all 3 key stages with a tremendous workshop recently. James Lomas, is an actor and professional performer, who has worked in the West End in many shows for thirteen years and became the youngest actor to receive a ‘Laurence Olivier Award’ for Best Actor for his role as original 'Billy' in Billy Elliot the Musical. James said "Wow. What an outstanding performance! I am so glad I came back to see this after Miss Bonsall and the students of the workshop invited me. The standard of the talent at Highfields is just incredible! A big hats off to Miss Bonsall and her team for such great work." What great praise from a proffesional!
Similarly, our soon-to-be Headteacher Mr Marsh, and once specialist of Musical Theatre at the BRIT school, gave fantastic feedback. "Such a well-rehearsed, well trained cast, a really excellent band and a fabulous back line crew. I was really engrossed throughout and totally invested in the clash between jaded, traumatised elders and kids who were desperate to express themselves. The work of the actors was developed and supported from the really precise playing from the band and MD (great cues) and lighting/ set design/ stage management/ make up etc. Miss Bonsall, Mr Rowley and the cast have really pushed the limits of what is possible in a school performance."