Drama: Sweet Charity
After taking a break last year, during the penultimate week of term the Bede's Drama department had the Miles Studio once again lit up with the bright lights and razzle-dazzle of a new school musical, which this year took the form of Sweet Charity.
Lower Sixth pupil Sally-Ann Wild took the front and centre role as Charity Hope Valentine, a nightclub dancer with a heart of gold. Rarely off-stage, the part was a demanding tour-de-force which required Sally-Ann to sing, dance, disappear under the stage and be suspended upside-down by her cast-mates, all within the first five minutes!
As Charity wheeled between song and dance routines and new lovers we followed her, hoping upon hoping that her good-natured optimism would win out.
Exuding a brassy, bubbly energy, Sally-Ann inhabited the role with style and aplomb, moving audiences breathlessly from tragicomedy to high romance and back again.
Aside from handling the astonishingly physically demanding part with a wry wink and a smile, her voice was consistently breath-taking. She exuded an infectious, bubbly optimism which had audiences enthralled and deserves high-praise for her accomplishments.
Charity's various romantic entanglements, most notably with Ike Foulkes' suitably hapless Oscar Lindquist, required Sally-Ann to display an astonishing range, but her timing and nuanced performance were peerless. And for his part, Ike's Oscar was a hand-wringing bundle of nervous energy, with his performance also worthy of praise.
Whilst suffering a panic-attack in a lift or consoling Charity atop a broken-down Ferris wheel, Ike took ownership of the role of Oscar and exuded a quiet, confident presence. Elsewhere in the cast, Georgia-Mae Ellis as Helene and Sian Walsh as Nickie, Charity's long-suffering flatmates, provided some thoroughly scene-stealing turns.
Their renditions of Something Greater Than This and Dream Your Dream were heart-breaking and hilarious in equal measure, with the young actresses walking the fine line between playing lovable down-and-outs and bitter grotesques.
Fellow supporting cast member Harvey Cole's turn as movie star Vittorio Vidal raised wry smiles while Olivia Prince-Smith acted as a central focus across two show-stopping numbers, Big Spender and The Rhythm of Life, both of which saw vast numbers of dancers occupying the stage. Olivia's turn as Momma Bruebeck not only set her abilities as a performer apart but saw her literally held aloft by other cast members!
The accompanying music was a toe-tapping delight, provided by the Bede's Music department's 13-piece pit orchestra, and in production terms Sweet Charity saw Mr Waring and his crew pulling out all the stops.
They created an extraordinarily technically challenging set, with pneumatic lifts, false floors and moveable scenery sections transporting audiences from Central Park to the Fandango Ballroom, a penthouse apartment to a fairground.
In summary, Sweet Charity was a bombastic, ambitious, glitzy celebration of talent, hope and joy. With a cast of over 40 students, dazzling choreography from Mrs Murphy and direction from new Director of Drama Mrs Lewis, cast members and audiences alike will be waiting with baited breath for next year's production.