Students praised for a professional production of hit West End musical
- Credit: Archant
A former West End star has heaped praise on an Ipswich school production of a musical in which she once performed.
Emma Dodd was in the audience to see the young cast of St Joseph’s College students present Hairspray at DanceEast last week.
The show was a sell-out as the teenagers recreated the brave new world of 1962, with beehives and hemlines heading upwards and racial segregation breaking down.
Emma, who performed in Hairspray in the West End and has owned The Emma Dodd School of Performing Arts in Ipswich for 10 years, said she was “blown away” by the show.
She said: “You actually forget you are watching a school production; brilliant casting led to a professional, funny performance with outstanding acting and vocals, not only from Elsa Pratt, who played an utterly stunning version of Tracy, but from all those with principle roles and the whole cast.”
Danielle Clarke, principal of St Joseph’s, said: “The College places great stress on the importance of the arts.
“In bringing together this fabulous production, students and staff worked tirelessly for months. It took great perseverance for our actors to learn their script and lyrics, whilst their physical energy was channelled into mastering the dance steps.
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“As well as our fantastic performers in the show, we had students taking the roles of sound engineer, lighting technician, sound effects coordinator and follow spot. Add to that a crew of 15 girls and boys who worked together brilliantly to cope with a huge number of set changes.”
The large cast, drawn from Year 7 up to the Sixth Form, in line with the school’s inclusive approach, gave many new performers the opportunity of rising to the challenge of appearing in front of packed houses in a professional theatre. The school was delighted with the mature and polished performances of the principle characters.
Fifteen-year-old Elsa Pratt excelled in the central role of Tracy Turnblad, the lovable, chubby teenager with big ambitions. Sixth-former Wilfred Kemsley was fearless and funny in the role of Tracy’s mother, Edna, traditionally played by a man. Fellow sixth-former Tabi Scheffler-Gonzalez transformed herself into a man-eating TV producer with a wonderfully seductive snarl and Mariam Pope, 14, held the audience spellbound as she belted out Motormouth Maybelle’s show stopping numbers.
Other principle parts were taken by Morgan Willetts (Corny Collins), Phoebe Lucking (Penny Pingleton), Joshua Lamb (Link Larkin), Isabelle Atkinson (Amber Von Tussle), Vibhash Gunasene (Seaweed J. Stubbs), Kirsten Horton (Little Inez), Oliver Fraser (Wilbur Turnblad) and Katerina Everard (Prudy Pingleton).