Right from the beginning this gloriously kitsch production, which manages to fuse together the Book of Genesis with all the best bits from 20th century pop culture, seized the audience and never let go.
With barely a pause for breath the show propelled the characters through the ups and downs, the falls and redemptions of the narrative, via a riot of humour, colour, and a dizzying collection of time hopping musical genres and costumes.
The performances given by every single member of the cast were truly remarkable. Will Prior was terrific in the title role, giving the show its dynamic, wide-eyed, centre. The narrators, Ruby Burling, Holly Gabathular, Amelia Shackleton and Natasha Shanley formed a beautifully harmonising biblical girl band. Joseph’s eleven brothers were delightfully rumbustious, not to mention multi-talented. Special mentions must also go to Kirsty Nolan’s deliciously villainous Mrs Potiphar, and to Harry Sanger’s Elvis impersonating Pharaoh who seemed to be channelling the ‘King’ via Eddie Izzard – the shoes alone were not to be missed!
The musicians, led by Mr Millinchip, were equally excellent – never missing a beat as they switched tempos and musical genres – Now rock ‘n’ roll! Now reggae! Now that Edith Piaf Parisian thing! Now Deep South bluegrass!
Of course, none of the magic visible from the stalls could happen without the selfless dedication and boundless creativity of the crew behind the scenes and those who have worked so hard on the production for many months. The logistics alone of putting on such a show causes the mind boggle. A standing ovation for you all!
Prep 4 and 6 each produced wonderful productions of ‘Robin and the Sherwood Hoodies’ – a humorous version of the classic tale – at the end of the Spring term.
A laugh a minute? It was more like every ten seconds in this fun production that was full of wonderful singing – both solo and ensemble – and high energy dance routines. There were great performances all around as our Junior School pupils showed, once again, just what they are capable of.
“I enjoy all the singing and energetic dancing and I also find all the jokes very amusing. When everybody sings about me though, it feels very strange,” said Charlotte Newbitt, who played the part of Robin Hood in the Prep 6 version.
The latest Grange School production, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, earned rave reviews for the high quality of acting, production and direction.
The cast was excellent throughout with Sixth formers Jonathan Combey and Sebastian Ritchie well matched against each other as Algy and Jack; their comic timing was excellent, the laughs increasing in volume and frequency as the evening progressed. Jemima Morrison was entrusted with some of the play’s best lines as Lady Bracknell, whilst Rachel Janes and Emily Clough brought real colour to the roles of Gwendolen and Cecily.
With its well-known characters and classic Wilde-isms this proved to be a popular production. For the first time in the school theatre the performance was set ‘in the round’ which gave a whole new perspective for the audience and a range of challenges to the actors. To add further interest to the piece I decided upon a moving stage which gave the audience a different view of each scene as it slowly rotated.
“I never cease to be amazed at the range and scope of Grange school productions, the audience can always be assured of an excellent evening’s entertainment. This was a beautifully paced production with the strong ensemble playing which is so crucial to comedy,” commented audience member Corrine Lawrence.
A matinee of the performance was also enjoyed by a group of local residents from Queen Elizabeth House in Northwich. The guests, who were looked after admirably by the school’s Community Action group, enjoyed a sumptuous pre-show lunch followed by front row seats for the play.
“Oliver!” is a much loved musical – packed with dramatic incident, fascinating characters and memorable songs – usually guaranteed to attract large houses. The down side to its popularity is that audiences have high expectations – expectations often fuelled by the indelible images of Ron Moody, Mark Lester and company in the classic 1960s film version. Suffice it to say that the full houses at the Theatre for the Senior School’s summer production in June were most certainly not disappointed.
The performance made an immediate impact with a set which evoked to perfection early Victorian London, not least the workhouse and the criminal underworld of gaslit streets and dark passageways. The backstage crew did a superb job of drawing us into this place and time, with Mr. Bamber’s atmospheric lighting and Mr. Edwards’s vivid sound design contributing greatly to the overall effect.
On to this stage stepped a remarkable young company, drawn entirely from the first to fourth years. Their skill, enthusiasm and sheer collective energy superbly conveyed the drama, humour and pathos of the familiar story and the wonderful music. The songs are too numerous to applaud individually but I cannot resist a mention of “I’d do anything”, Nancy’s very affecting “As long as he needs me”, Fagin’s brilliant “Reviewing the Situation”, and the Londoners’ haunting “Who will buy?”
While space precludes acknowledging every member of this talented cast in the way they deserve, mention must be made of the principals who brought such distinctive characterisations to their demanding roles. Toby Abbott was a most engaging Oliver, Lucy Boynes a very convincing Nancy, and Haydn Cawley a suitably pompous Mr. Bumble. Jack Furlong played a truly artful Dodger and Harry Sanger a duly villainous Bill Sykes. William Prior set the tone of the whole production with an astonishingly mature and accomplished portrayal of Fagin. Just as integral to the show’s success were the other highly individual actors and, of course, the sparkling chorus which variously gave us the workhouse inmates and assistants, Fagin’s gang and the Londoners.
This year’s World AIDS Day concert in the Grange Theatre featured an all-Mozart programme performed by Hartford Choral Society (The Grange School’s very own community choir) and The Grange School Orchestra.
Conducted by Ben Madden from our Music Department, the choir performed Mozart’s Coronation Mass with soloists from the school choir: Rachel Jolliffe (Soprano), Nick Backhouse (Alto), Will Prior (Tenor) and Edward Stubbs (Bass).
Additionally, a movement from a Mozart Quintet was performed by Rachel Howard (Oboe), Latchen Kinghorn-Perry (Clarinet), Ed Stubbs (Saxophone), David Purchase (Bassoon) and Andrew Millinchip (Pianoforte). The string orchestra performed the first movement from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Director of Music Andrew Millinchip commented, “I was very grateful to Ben Madden for his careful preparation and assured direction of the choir, and very proud that the school orchestra could now accompany a major choral work so skilfully.”
All of the Prep 6 and Prep 4 pupils involved in the recent production of Ye-Ha! combined to produce an unforgettable show featuring music, dancing and great performances all round.
The play, by Craig Hawes, is set in the Wild West, and tells the story of Wilbur, the new sheriff in Splodge City, a town overrun with baddies. After much rehearsing, the Junior School pupils brought their spectacular production to the stage of the Senior School theatre for two rootin’ tootin’ nights.
The whole cast and crew were excellent and a big ‘thank you’ must go to Miss Lloyd and all the teachers for making the play happen.
The Grange Theatre was recently transformed into a courtroom for the Sixth Form’s Mock Trial. Over the course of the evening students not only prosecuted and defended two cases in front of His Honour Judge Graeme Smith of Bolton Crown Court, but also took on the roles of defendants, witnesses and court officials.
The trials involved the preparation of opening speeches, evidence in chief and cross examination of witnesses and summing up each side’s case for a jury of students, staff and parents. Students had worked with Mrs Chaplain (who is also qualified as a solicitor) and barrister Andrew Green of St John’s Buildings’ Chambers in Manchester to hone their legal skills.
HHJ Smith provided valuable feedback to our team, many of whom will compete in the Sir Rhys Davies Independent Schools’ Mock Trial later this month. His Honour was extremely impressed by everyone who took part, and even compared our advocates’ cross examination skills very favourably against some professionals who he sees in his courtroom.
We are proud to invite you to our latest school production, Oliver! One of the most beloved British musicals ever!
The ever popular story with its cast of timeless characters will be brought vividly to life in the fabulous performance space that is The Grange Theatre. Lionel Bart’s sensational score includes: Food Glorious Food; Consider Yourself; You’ve Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two; I’d Do Anything; Oom Pah Pah; As Long As He Needs Me and many more.
Our four performances are on: Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th; Friday 27th; and Saturday 28th June at 7.30pm in our theatre. Refreshments will be available during the interval. Tickets are £8 for adults and £6 for pupils.
To order tickets please visit: www.grange.org.uk/boxoffice where you will be able to book tickets in our secure online box office. There is no booking fee and you will be able to choose your own seats.