Gallery: Shakespeare musical is the talk of the town

PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 March 2013

A scene from Felixstowe Academy's acclaimed musical production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

A scene from Felixstowe Academy's acclaimed musical production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.


IT’S been the talk of the town this week – an acclaimed and highly-successful musical created from a classic work. RICHARD CORNWELL reports on Felixstowe Academy’s alternative look at Shakespeare.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream; review by Alexander Murray, Felixstowe Academy student reviewer

THIS musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with music and lyrics by Wade Ablitt, was an outstanding accomplishment by the Performing Arts production team of Felixstowe Academy, with many members of the audience commenting that this was “the best school production I have ever seen”.

This diverse and awe-inspiring show was life changing for both the cast and the specialist technical production crew as nothing like this had been attempted before.

Matthew Soper the director set out on this journey to do justice to the Shakespearian piece turned into a musical for the first time, and he succeeded admirably. Every part of the play was performed with passion and enjoyment with each cast member developing into their own roles and personality to give this musical the West End’ feel it deserved.

Puck, played by Taryn Mason, enthralled with actor-audience participation which made the audience feel as if they were part of the musical themselves and kept them on the edge of their seat, bringing the audience into the storyline multiple times.

On the evening, I was approached by many who expressed their astonishment of how enjoyable the musical was. One proclaimed: “A great show, absolutely superb – this musical adaptation is going to have a fantastic future, hopefully putting smiles on many more faces.”

Teamwork of the cast, production executives and the technical team turned this script into a vibrant and thoroughly enjoyable show.

This was a clear success; it shows what can be produced when a clever idea, a extraordinary writer, a witty director, exceptional cast and expert production team is put together – and, of course, a lot of rehearsals!

FROM youngsters getting a taste of life at “big school”, to seasoned theatre buffs who’ve seen it all many times – everyone has been heaping praise on it.

Felixstowe Academy’s vibrant and exciting interpretation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – turning it into a musical – and its talented team of thespians and technicians has won plaudits in many forums.

Mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon said: “It was quite brilliant – a wonderful performance.

“Huge credit should go to everyone involved and especially Wade Ablitt, an incredibly talented young man.”

Year six youngsters from primary and junior schools in the town were also extremely impressed as they enjoyed one of their many transitional days to experience life at the academy before they move up to the next stage of their education when the new academic year starts in September.

Classes from Colneis Junior, Langer Primary and Trimley St Martin Primary schools expressed their view with cheers and rapturous applause after being given a special performance.

Among the 100 pupils in the audience, Katie, aged 10, enjoyed watching the character of Puck, played by Taryn Mason. She said: “The play was brilliant! I liked it when things got muddled up.”

There was praise too for Keelan Swift-Stalley who played Bottom. One audience member, 10-year-old Jess said: “Bottom was really funny. He made me laugh!”

But it wasn’t just about the romance and comedy. Josh, 10, loved the action scenes – he said: “The play was great, but the fight scene was my favourite part.”

The specially adapted production of the classic comedy was down to two former students, Wade Ablitt and Matt Soper, who teamed up to write, compose and direct the show.

Wade abridged the play’s text, wrote and composed the songs, while Matt was director.

With assistance and supervision from Paul Stone, subject leader for drama, and Mike Wren, subject leader for music, the ex-students worked with current students to bring the production together – with music including classical, romantic, rock and fun upbeat musical theatre-style songs.

Wade, 18, currently on a gap year, said: “It has been so interesting to see this show grow and build from some scribblings on a scrap of paper sat on my piano to a fully-orchestrated musical with a phenomenal cast.

“It’s a very emotional experience. Having performed in original musicals myself, I know what a challenge it can be learning songs you have never heard before and having nothing to work off, but the cast was truly amazing and picked everything up so quickly and professionally.

“We haven’t done a full-on script and song musical as such for about two years so the time was right to give students a challenge, something they could really sink their teeth into.

“We thought it could be a lot of fun. We know Shakespeare can be difficult and while there would be a lot of students who would be interested just in performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream we thought we could rope in quite a lot of interest from students who wanted to do a proper musical, learn songs, dances and so on.”

The songs were sung in modern language, but the script was Shakespearean verse.

He said: “The lyrics use modern day language, just because we’d complicate it too much if we tried to make them Shakespearean; but it still works well. We didn’t want to set a specific time period for it either.”

Matt, who has completed a foundation course at Guildford School for Acting, said: “As one of Shakespeare’s most popular and beloved pieces, I really wanted to do it justice and bring out the comedy in the script. Wade’s music and lyrics were incredible to work with.”

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