This week saw over 100 students put on an outstanding performance of one of the most challenging school productions we have ever attempted—Billy Elliot. With a fabulous and technically very difficult musical score, a gritty plot which was so well acted it brought tears of laughter, sadness and happiness to your eyes, 10 minute long songs which involved the whole cast; choreographed into a visually stunning display of talent and some truly beautiful solo numbers which were performed with heart wrenching expression and poignancy, it is fair to say that the cast gave us a very moving and unforgettable performance.
Billy Elliot (Luc Sykes) is a boy growing up in a north east town in England during the 1980s. Life at home is tense as Billy’s father (Josh Walker) and brother (Jake Davies ) are coal miners faced with losing their livelihood in Thatcher’s Britain. Billy's mother (Cara Gough)
has recently died and Grandma (Amber Ings) is suffering from dementia. Billy’s life changes when he secretly swaps boxing class (taught by George—Leah Pollard) for ballet lessons and meets the formidable Mrs Wilkinson (Jess Dash) who spots his natural talent for dancing. Billy’s friends Debbie (Ella Woods) and Michael (Ben Gibson) help to keep him sane while providing humour for the audience!
The show featured a supporting cast of warm hearted, if rough around the edges, miners led by Big Davey—Callum Williams, and looked after by Lesley—Loren Pound, lines of stony-faced police and a chorus of ballet dancers who interspersed remarkable poise and elegance with girlie giggling; reminding the audience of the impact of conflict on children. All involved put in superb performances.
Of course, none of this could have happened without our behind the scenes heroes; ex-student Jacob Moran from 122 Productions provided stage lighting, Mr Whitworth and Harry Walker - sound, Mrs Downing - costumes, Mrs Symons and Mrs Elford - make up, a backstage crew lead by Bella Caesar and, of course, Pharic and Hazel McGregor who, along with Rachel Jakeman, built, as Mrs Nortje described it, the Swiss Army knife of stage sets and lifelike props which added true professionalism to the performance.
And last but by no means least, our gratitude goes to our remarkable Creative Arts teachers, who have spent the last 4 weekends in school rehearsing and have been living, breathing, dreaming Billy Elliot for the last 6 months. They are:
Vocal coach – Gemma Foxon
Choreographer – Leigh Burrows
Co-director – Lucy Charleston
Musical Director – Sian Jones
There is an album of professional photos by Mike Davey photography here. The RLS media team filmed the production and we will be selling DVD soon.