Somewhere, over at the Rondo… The streets around Larkhall seemed to take on a strangely yellowish hue last week to coincide with the annual St Mark’s drama performance at the Rondo Theatre. For the first time in the school’s history, students were given the opportunity to produce and perform a play in a professional theatre setting.
By opening up the production to a discerning and demanding fee-paying public the pressure was on to get it right. The Wizard of Oz presents a number of technical challenges for a theatre director – set design transitions from Kansas to Oz; the casting of the principle roles (all part of our instantly recognisable cultural history) and maximising the acoustics of the theatre to accommodate the singing of a large group of Munchkins!
As soon as the curtain opened it was clear that Head of Drama, Ms Lyons and her co-director and father of the Wicked Witch, Pavel Douglas, had got it spot on. I took my two children to watch and, as we all know, kids are tough to please: spoilt by the wonders of Pixar movies and anything an iPad has to offer, it takes something special to keep the attention of a young child for two hours. My eleven year old son was transfixed throughout. My six year old daughter was cowering in her chair one minute, thanks to the malevolent cackle of Amelie, and clapping along with the rest of the audience a minute later. Indeed, every generation in the room appeared to be having a ball – no mean feat, particularly for a school production. Every element of the play was smile-inducing. The performance of the leads – Dorothy (Eliza), The Witches (Amelie and Nancy), the Scarecrow (Hugo), Tin man (Archie) and Cowardly Lion (Ed) – were wonderful and the students all made the roles their own. Estelle as Toto took on the role of Dorothy on the Friday, and I hear she too was fantastic in this iconic role.
To produce such a polished and professional show with limited preparation time and with first time performers was nothing short of spectacular. The back stage crew and students from Swainswick School, who made up many of the Munchkin population, also deserve a special mention. It was abundantly clear that everyone had had a fun and fabulous time both on and off the stage.
We all know that there’s ‘no place like home’. After watching my school’s production of The Wizard of Oz I’d like to suggest that there’s no place like St Mark’s!
Dr J Thomas
Head of English