Stoke High show prompts high emotion

PARENTS, dignitaries and politicians arrived in their hundreds to see Stoke High's latest performance – and the show even moved some to tears of emotion.

PARENTS, dignitaries and politicians arrived in their hundreds to see Stoke High's latest performance – and the show even moved some to tears of emotion.

Adapted from 50s classic West Side Story, the five-night show was a sell-out with more than 65 students involved in the success.

Set on the urban streets of England rather than those of New York, the production included slang, violence and underlying tension.

Not what many would associate with a school play, but the adult subject was tackled in a mature and responsible manner with members of the upper school assuming much of the cast.

The performance tackled contemporary issues such as immigration and urban degradation whilst maintaining the original plot.

Teacher Tim Howard was responsible for adapting the play's script and plot. He said: "We felt the original script and setting had dated and we wanted to explore what might happen if we used the original storyline but in a modern English context.

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"It seemed only natural to transform Maria into a refugee from Eastern Europe named Tony, originally an American from the poor side of the tracks, into a streetwise young Brit."

Naomi Davey captured the character of Maria, the character who fell in love with Tony (John Johnson).

Mr Howard added: " Every night Naomi has reduced audiences to tears with her heartbreaking performances, while John Johnson plays Tony with all the assurance that comes from leading roles in previous school productions."

This piece really did have something for everyone with song and dance, physical theatre and political undertones.

Mr Howard said: "What the audience sees is the end product of months of dedication. Other members of staff made enormous contributions."

Assistant director Sandra Cracknell took over direction for several weeks while head of drama Sally Robinson was absent through illness.

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