Brilliant is the word at school

Brilliant is the word at school

12 December 2012

DOWN High School’s annual musical theatre offerings are an established highlight of the cultural life of the area and this year’s production of Casey and Jacobs musical Grease is no exception — emulating the school’s memorable back-catalogue of Calamity Jane, The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Directed and produced by Down High School’s Head of Drama, Mr. Niall O’Hara, the large cast of 70 pupils, ranging from years eight to 14, took to the stage for this lively and dynamic show, drawing capacity crowds over four nights, not to mention a special performance for local primary school pupils.

For weeks, the dancers were put through their paces by choreographers, Mrs. Nicola Thorpe and year 14 student and trophy-winning dancer Jenna Finnegan. The Musical Director, Miss Donna McCracken, a music teacher at the school, perfected the sound of the lead singers and chorus, as well as leading the orchestra of talented musicians who were joined in the pit by Mr. Edwin Mitchell, the School’s Head of Science and renowned performer and teacher of guitar.

First performed on Broadway in 1972, Grease has become an iconic part of the musical theatre canon, containing well-known songs such as ‘Summer Lovin’’, ‘Greased Lightning’ and ‘You’re the One That I Want’.

The plot centres on a group of students entering their last year at Rydell High. Danny, a member of the ultra-cool T-Birds, is besotted by Sandy — the new girl in school, even though she does not fit in with his image.

In Down High’s production Year 14 student Connor Carson returned to the stage to play Danny, with Poppy Banerji taking the role of Sandy, the shy girl who gets the boy in the end.

Their singing, both together and in solos, was superb, no surprise given their growing reputations in local musical theatre circles. John Carville’s performance as Kenickie was also excellent, filling the hall with a voice that is well trained and powerful. Olivia Jamison’s pouting portrayal of Rizzo was likewise memorable.

Other leading roles were played and sung by a well chosen cast, and a number of guest appearances by some more senior members of the school community (Mrs. Moe Emerson, Miss Lorraine Halligan and Mrs. Sarah Gillespie, Mrs. Alison Green and Miss Andrea McInnes) drew huge levels of applause.

Maths teacher Mr. David Doey played the part of the Guardian Angel, delighting the audience with his rendition of ‘Beauty School out’. The impressive set was constructed and designed by Mr. Brian Ousby and Mr. Robert Ellis, and painted by year 14 student Hannah Boyd.

Mr. O’Hara expressed his delight at the way in which the pupils acted, danced and sang in what was a high-energy show. He also commended the large team of pupils who worked tirelessly backstage and as part of the lighting and sound crew.

“This has been a superb few weeks,” he said. “The pupils were enthusiastic and it never ceases to amaze me just how talented they are. I would also like to thank colleagues and the parents for the support they have shown for this show.”