By Iris Roberts
This afternoon I watched the A1 Musical Theatre Showcase, a favourite fixture in the busy Hurtwood performance calendar. At first, it was disconcerting to walk into the theatre to find a fully functional airport terminal, equipped with lounge chairs, a snack bar, and gate information. The set was so unbelievably realistic, the attention to detail impeccable. All around me I heard murmurs of people commenting and noticing little features that pulled the whole set together – huge congratulations to the design team behind it. We sat and admired the staging until a sudden announcement came over the intercom – mimicking the airport announcement system – and I was hit with a wave of déjà vu, as a recognisable voice called for Mr and Mrs Jackson to ‘hurry to catch their flight to Portugal!’ The lights cut out and music began to blast from the surround speakers.
The show was opened by the wonderfully talented Ellie and, on her pitch-perfect high note, the rest of the cast entered the stage. This first number was a great introduction to the hopeful and uplifting tone of the show. Each character seemed to have their own story within the action. The most visually captivating element was, of course, the travellator, which took the audience by surprise and added an extra level of physicality to the performance.
It was hard to top the opening number, a feat that could perhaps only be achieved by Pippa. She played a pilot, dressed in a very convincing uniform. Her song sent shivers down my spine, especially during the chorus were the hairs on my arms raised in awe. The next song was performed by Sav, Ellie, and Rosie. It was a beautiful rendition, a song about going back home. Fittingly the girls were dressed as backpackers – reminding me of exhausted, homesick gap-year students! The following number was a funky, jazzy song, the girls were dressed in iconic flight attendant outfits – very 1960s. Their dancing and singing resembling the routines from groups such as the ‘Rockettes’. This number was nostalgic, reminiscent of old-timey musicals such as ‘Anything Goes’ – a really enjoyable watch.
The next song was a fan favourite, Jack and Millie playing a father and daughter, exploring the airport terminal whilst singing “A Whole New World" from Aladdin. This piece was light-hearted and fun to watch – especially when the cast joined in to create a dream-like atmosphere, using smoke machines and umbrellas. It truly encapsulated the sense of child-like wonder and excitement at the core of travelling. Maddie soloed the next song, her American falsetto and flaunty dancing capturing the humorous tone of the song. This flashy number was followed by the amazing Lizzie who, dressed as a cleaning lady sang “Cleaning Women”, supported by Pippa, Lara, Millie, Evie, and Bea. It was a beautiful number that everyone loved! Archie and Amelie followed suit, with a comical performance mimicking obnoxious couples on holiday. Both Amelie and Archie excelled with their expressive portrayals.
An array of spectacular songs followed suit, such as “She’s Getting Married in the Morning” – an obvious reference to Bachelorette parties, with the girls dressed up in sparkly cowgirl hats – and the big chorus number, “We’re all Going on a Summer Holiday”. Lara, Grace, and Erin’s song featured brilliant choreography and captivating expressive performances from each girl. Coco, Dina, Hannah, Holly, and Greta sang an inspiring song about friendship. Evie, Pippa, and Bea’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was beautiful and really hit a soft spot in me. The harmonies were incredible. Molly Hugh’s sang “What’s new Buenos Aries?”, a fun upbeat number that really showed off the incredible performance skills of the cast. Jack and Archie’s song, “Come Fly with Me”, captured the suave charismatic attitude of pilots – and the use of staging in this number must be applauded.
The finale was, of course, the highlight of the show. The choral numbers were favourites, as they embodied the talent of the entire cast. We should congratulate every member of the cast, who all shone throughout the entire show. It's obvious that they all put so much time, effort, and commitment into their performances. The singing, dancing, and acting bought the whole thing together – and it really showed off the sheer talent we have at Hurtwood. Compliments must also go to everyone involved in the set, props, lighting, and sound design, and to the directors behind the show – who managed to pull of such an incredible piece of fun-filled Hurtwood entertainment. A perfect way to end a busy year with everyone going off on their own exciting travels!
I would just like to add that I've really enjoyed the experience as a whole. While it has been challenging, I think that without these challenges along the way, the show wouldn't be what it is. By challenging ourselves as a cast and crew, we have created a fantastic thing which we are really excited to share with everyone this year, and next year to the new students at freshers! - Chloe