Updated: Dec 4, 2018
Some thoughts from those involved, gleaned from quick chats around the school.
Photos from Tuesday’s rehearsal. Thanks for letting us snoop, Doug!
Anna: ‘A really good experience to be in the musical… We’ve been taught how important it is to be dedicated, to turn up to every rehearsal, giving your all.’
‘I think it’s made everyone a lot closer,’ adds Georgia, ‘especially the friends you had beforehand. We’ve now spent so much more time together and now we’re much closer.’
Olive adds that ‘Hairspray’ is a real opportunity to get to know those in other classes and the second year, and in the other Houses. ‘And it is so rewarding too, and we haven’t even got to the performances yet… It is also a chance to get to know Doug and the team’.
They all agree: ‘There’s also a really nice product at the end that you can really feel proud of.’
Any funny stories? ‘The group chat… Oh, and the shorts of shame,’ Anna reveals. ‘We have like a dress code for the dances – trackies or leggings. If you come in jeans, you have to wear the red shorts of shame,’ clearly enjoyed by all involved, ‘They are like primary school shorts… Hideous.’ ‘You have to get a mate to join you…but everyone embraces it – and some people even seek it…’
‘You feel part of something?’ They all agree – this is serious fun, it seems.
Some thoughts from Ellis: ‘I don’t have that much to do but it’s really fun and they keep me busy! I’m really looking forward to the real thing.’
Zoe adds, ‘It’s great being around a lot of people who like doing what you like to do… to enjoy that activity with each other – that sense of community. And I am looking forward to showing it to my friends soon…’
Britany finds it ‘exhausting – in a good way – even the discipline.’ She is glad she joined in.
Jade is very clear and very enthusiastic about her role in the Motormouth gang, ‘sort of like a chorus role.’ Why is she enjoying it? ‘Meeting new people and you get to do things you would never do elsewhere.’ And she adds that, ‘You can just get involved in the moment… forget for a while about all that schoolwork. It can be stressful to balance all these things. But it’s worth it!’
Olivia agrees. ‘It is really stressful – but it’s definitely worth it… the best show I’ve ben is in so far… I’m a Dynamite. It’s quite a big part – lots of harmony learning – but it’s lots of fun! The hardest thing is doing three A levels on the side.’ Much laughter here at the idea. ‘On the side!? Of course not…’
And some feedback from Ben and Sam – both clearly enjoying their involvement in ‘Hairspray’ and giving me some of their lunchtime to share thoughts.
Ben and Sam are playing opposite each other, Penny and Seaweed, a relationship in 60s Baltimore, that challenges the conventions of the time. Ben tells me that, ‘Seaweed was the obvious part for me to aim for: his role centres on him as a person of colour and their relationship is about breaking the boundaries.’ What has Sam found difficult? Initially at least playing a ‘ditsy’ character, ‘but this has come more readily in the last few weeks!’
Both loved having bigger roles in this year’s musical. Was it hard to meet deadlines and maintain work? ‘Yes of course, but it was about talking to our teachers, and this teaches us more about life… ‘It’s what we both want to do. This is why we came to this school.’ They certainly seem to be in harmony. ‘It all balances out,’ Ben tells me. ‘We’ve been friends for years, been briefly to the same school, but never performed together.’ They are clearly enjoying doing so now.
So – I ask – what is the best thing about the show? Sam is quick and enthusiastic in response: ‘It goes against many social norms – so the lead girl Tracey is unusual – a plus-size girl who is trying to find her way and challenging traditions – and Gaby [who plays Tracey] is so good and so smart .’ They both agree that she is amazing in the part. And what about the best moment in the play? Highly subjective I know, but Sam hesitates only briefly: ‘a song called ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’, she tells me, sung by Josephine. The show is kind of bubble gum – pink and bright, then there is this moment which highlights the whole point of the show… it breaks so many boundaries… it makes you stop and think for a second about prejudice, about racism… I think it will really work on the audience.’
So what have they gained? ‘This is one of the most professional things I’ve done,’ says Ben, who is clearly loving his time on the show, in spite of all the hard work and commitment. Sam has already done some West End work – how do they compare? ‘I would say in some ways I’ve learnt more here, on this production. As a child actor in the West End you do what they want you to do. Here we have been invited to explore the character’s role, be brave, be experimental, make choices. They teach us etiquette.’
Lowest moments? Last week, apparently. They survived: ‘It is… an escape in a way. It adds stress, of course, but it is also so enjoyable.’
They are clearly having a great time, and we at Muse can’t wait to see the results.
Until next time, folks.