JCSC Christmas panto

Posted on 20th December 2011 | in James Calvert Spence College - Acklington Rd , James Calvert Spence College - South Avenue

So it is once again the time of year for Christmas pantos, concerts and reviews and last week it was the turn of students from James Calvert Spence College to perform a series of acts which they had proposed to a panel of staff, back in early October. The philosophy behind the concert this year was to present a showcase of talent across the federation, including students from every year group, performing a variety of dance, drama, poetry and musical numbers, selected by the students and supported by the staff.

Following the formal auditions the staff panel, with great difficulty due to the level of talent and skill, not to mention enthusiasm, managed to select which of the many acts were to be offered the opportunity to perform in the JCSC Christmas Review. The lucky students were then required to organise their own rehearsal time in addition to planned staff rehearsals every Wednesday evening, so a high level of commitment was required from every performer. It was at this point that they realised they needed someone to introduce the show and link the acts to ensure smooth, faultless running on the performance nights. A sort of human ‘superglue’ to stick it all together effectively…this is where I came in…I thought to myself, ‘Wait a minute, I am very good at talking, so they tell me, I could do that role!!!’, and fortunately for me I got straight in and talked myself  into the show!

After all the rehearsals and the dress and tech rehearsals, many laughs, a few tears and a great deal of nervous energy, it was time for the first night performance, Thursday 8th December. Despite the high winds and threatening powercut, the hall at South Avenue was very quickly filled with parents, friends, brothers and sisters etc… all waiting happily in anticipation of the production they were about to watch.

To open the show I welcomed everyone and then introduced the first act, Flora Smith and Harbour Lights Community Choir, singing with youngsters from JCSC. They sang some beautiful tunes on stage and it was a delight hearing both young and old voices together. Next on stage was Yr 10 student Emily Shotton, who beautifully sang a solo which was met with the audience shouting and cheering their appreciation at the end of her performance. The third act was Alex forester (6th Form) who played two pieces on the piano. He played perfectly and with real feeling and it sounded even better, knowing that he did not have one note of music in front of him. The next performance was a group of year 7 and 8 dancers, ‘The Bobbin’ Robins’ who, wearing scarlet tutus danced their way energetically through a chirpy version of ‘Rockin’ Robbins’ and even included Hannah’s tap solo off the stage and into the audience! Holly and Milly from Yr 5 followed with a humorous and beautifully executed poem ‘Please Miss’ which aptly talks about a nativity play. The final verse ended by both girls saying that in this play could they be the stars! Well I thought that they were both stars and the audience were well entertained! The middle school choir then took to the stage and quietly sang the classic children’s carol ‘Away in a manger’ they sang so sweetly that I even got the audience to join in as well. Molly Smith from Yr 5 then blew everyone away with her version of ‘All I want for Christmas is You’ and within a few bars the crowd were clapping along with her. She received a riotous round of applause to send her off the stage with a proud grin. The final act before the interval ended the first half on a high note. The Yr 11 band, consisting of two guitarists, drummer and lead singer, professionally delivered three tunes including the hit number by Rhianna, ‘Disturbia.’

Whilst the audience stretched their legs, enjoyed refreshments and mince pies the chat was all about the range of talent they had been privy to and how delighted they were to be able to watch students from the ages of 9 to 18 perform together and support each other.

The second half started with a student procession from the back of the hall, leading up through the audience, singing ‘Little town of Bethlehem’ and the audience were invited to join in with the second verse. Brennan Addison Yr 5 was next on stage singing ‘The Star Song’ and he sang it absolutely beautifully. The response from the audience nearly took the roof off! The Marching Band that followed competed with the noise however with a fantastic rhythmic number, the vibrations of which could be felt through the floor. The Ceilidh Band then gave us some great music and dedicated it to Mrs Lord (Head of Music) who unfortunately was unable to attend. At the end of this act I decided to give them all a joke and asked them what the best Christmas present was in the world. Despite most of the audience screaming Liam Stevens (that’s me!), I said ‘No! It is a broken drum……you just can’t beat it.!!!’ It was met with typical groans of appreciation-the old ones are always the best! I then introduced ‘Wham’-not the real ones but three girls Keisha, Shannon and Sarah singing their version of ‘Last Christmas’. They did it superbly, and certainly looked prettier than the originals! Holly and Shannon from Yr 6 then stood quietly on the stage and perfectly recited a lovely poem relating to Christmas and what comes with Christmas… snow!!!!!  

The last act I had the pleasure of introducing was ‘Chaverrella.’ Basically five Yr 10 students had written their own version of the traditional Christmas panto ‘Cinderella.’, but this performance was ‘Cinderella in 6 minutes’ …ish!!! There was the normal range of panto characters you would expect, including the two ugly sisters who were superbly portrayed by two of the boys who stole the show looking both shocking and ugly! The ‘panto’ got a fantastic applause, arguably one of the best of the night, especially when a teacher had to stand in on the Friday to be the fairy godmother! Miss Percy (Fairy Godmother Percy) got an outstanding round of applause and this was definitely the best of the two nights as there were cheers and screams coming from all over the room.

So, to end of the performance, Executive Headteacher Mrs Christine Graham spent a few minutes talking about the show and all the effort that had gone into the final production. She acknowledged the great debt of thanks we all owe Miss Percy and Mrs Durie who directed the event, supported by all the staff and students behind the scenes who go unnoticed on the night. She summed it up by saying, “This is why we are a federation, different abilities and ages joining together to form a fantastic production like this.”

As a School Student Ambassador I feel that the performance went perfectly and I was proud to be a part of it – I also had a tremendous time! I hope that JCSC continue to perform future successful productions when I leave in the summer and I look forward to returning to watch them and appreciate the talent we have in our area.

Liam Steven

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