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    A Rousing Welcome to Spring

    Despite the cold weather Spring was welcomed at Bishop Ramsey Church of England School before the Easter holidays with two outstanding entertainments - the Spring Soiree & a performance of 'Hairspray'.

     

    Despite the cold weather Spring was welcomed at Bishop Ramsey Church of England School before the Easter holidays with two outstanding entertainments.

    The Annual Spring Soiree held on Thursday 14th March featured student musicians from all years in a mixture of new and old music, something for all tastes.  The Concert Band opened proceedings with the rousing familiar ‘Mission Impossible’ known by older members of the audience from the TV series and more recently from the Tom Cruise movies.

    In contrast the Gospel Choir featuring many younger students, sang two religious songs including ‘What A Mighty God We Serve’ as sung by the Alfred Street Baptist Choir.

    The Wind Band played the haunting and sentimental ‘Barcarolle’, a traditional folk song sung by Venetian Gondoliers, from “The Tales of Hoffman” by Offenbach. In contrast the Brass Ensemble delighted the audience with themes from the West End and Hollywood with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular ‘ Any Dream Will Do’ followed by Bernaerts arrangement of Lord Of The Rings. 

    The first Act ended with highlights from the school’s forthcoming production of” Hairspray” featuring the cast and the band. This toe tapping finale left the audience keen to see the whole production.

    The Senior Choir opened the second Act with John Rutter’s finale from “The Wind In The Willows” – ‘Home is a Special Kind of Feeling’. This was followed by the complicated  ‘You’re just in Love’ by Irving Berlin. Normally familiar to audiences from Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor singing it in the Hollywood musical “Call Me Madam”, it is traditionally a duet.

    The Sinfonia were next to entertain with a mixture of old and new. Starting with Mozart’s” Symphony No 25” written in 1773, progressing to the Beatles’ hit ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ending with the more modern ‘Clocks’ by Coldplay.

    In complete contrast Stevie Wonder’s ever popular ‘Superstition’ was played by the Jazz Band featuring several soloists.

    Traditionally at the Spring Soiree the Year 13 Ensemble entertain to say goodbye. This year was no exception with the students wearing red carnations. We wish them luck as they leave school.

    The Concert Band closed this year’s concert with a Count Basie Medley and the song ‘The Final Countdown’.

    A packed audience enjoyed the evening and were left wanting more. Congratulations to the students and staff, Mrs Neale, Mr Cullum and Mrs Hunt who had worked so hard, prior to and on the evening, to achieve such a superb concert.

    In the last week of the Spring term Bishop Ramsey Production Society presented the musical “Hairspray’. The show tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, her mother Edna and father Wilbur and her desire to dance on The Corny Collins Show television programme. Set in Baltimore, USA in 1962, the show examines integration and ‘being different’ through fun loving songs, four love stories, friendship and of course, being a musical, it has a happy ending. The cast had been rehearsing since before Christmas to achieve the high standard of the show with some double casting for the characters. Alexa Lascano and Isabel Panayis shared the challenging role of Tracy Turnblad, both singing and acting with confidence. Sam Thomas as Tracy’s mother, Edna, who had not left the house since the 50s, gave an excellent performance as a woman and  in his transformation from bored housewife to stylish woman of the 60s. The duet ‘Your’re Timeless To Me, with Wilbur, played by Henry Lay, especially delighted the audience and deserved its encore. Thomas Kimsey played the love interest and heart throb Link Larkin, star of The Corny Collins Show, who finally comes to his senses and ends up with the ‘right’ girl having originally given his ring to Amber (Eliza Glock and Dannielle Berg). Katie Stevens and Stephanie Bulley played head of the tv studio the formidable Velma Von Tussle who is anti everyone except her daughter Amber, who she attempts to propel into the limelight. Both ladies captured the ‘nasty’ side of this character, especially in the song ‘Miss Baltimore Crabs’ and they worked well with their not so bright daughter. ’Tracy’s best friend Penny – who is quite shy and dominated by her mother was ably played by Alicia Crawley and Katie Westbrook. This is a difficult role as the character evolves from shy girl to glamour girl in love, achieved by both girls in this production.

    Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge and Remiya Juerakhan gave convincing performances as Seaweed, particularly in the song ‘Run and Tell That’.

    Mums and daughters is also a theme running through the show – Edna and Tracy, Amber and Velma, Prudy and Penny Pingleton, and the song ‘Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now’, featuring all three couples, was a delight.

    Alliyah Samuel and Charlene Sawo as Motormouth added a depth to the production with their blues style voices. Singing ‘Big, Blonde and Beautiful’ leading into the protest to end Act 1 and then the poignant and powerful ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’.

    Conor Taylor-Brown and Philip Beckman played Corny Collins the host of the tv show who discovers Tracy and fulfils her dream of dancing on the show. This leads to her winning Miss Teenage Hairspray and the show becoming the first integrated one on television.

    The show ended with the up rousing ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ with audience participation and a standing ovation every performance. The evening was fun and poignant with lots of singing and dancing by the excellent principals and the chorus who ably backed them in difficult musical numbers.

    The musicians were outstanding and Aaron Walker was excellent in his Saxophone solo on stage accompanying Tracy and Link in their first dance.

    Supported by stunning scenery and period costumes the entire cast clearly enjoyed their time in Baltimore and congratulations must go to them, Mrs Simmons, Mrs Neale, Mr Cullum, Mr Foote and Miss Neal for a superb production.

    Miss E Neal

    Senior Librarian