The end of March saw St John’s return to the world of musical theatre with a bang, after a ‘hiatus’ of several years with two hugely successful performances of Legally Blonde, The Musical.
Preparations began as far back as twelve months ago when Legally Blonde was chosen as the piece best suited to kick start the renaissance of this fantastic musical and dramatic art form.
Casting began in September 2018 as the staff scoured the hidden talents of the pupil body from Fourth Form upwards to find two winning romantic and comedic leads and a vibrant and vivacious supporting cast. External choreographers were drafted in including a member of the original West End cast and as well as the School’s very own Lily doing a superlative job as Dance Captain (while also giving an amazingly energetic performance as Brooke Wyndham) and the rehearsal process began with slowly learning the challenging but rewarding music and gradually piecing together the full out dance routines.
The staff began searching the country high and low for the most suitable sets and costumes and collecting the never ending list of props which were all necessary to make the show go with a zing.
As the performances drew closer, the commitment energy and enthusiasm of our talented cast never waned, despite long rehearsals at weekends and into the evenings.
Legally Blonde: The Musical took place over two sell-out performances on the evenings of Thursday 28 and Friday 29 March at Leatherhead Theatre. The two standing ovations received by the cast, combined with rapturous and prolonged applause was heartily deserved, not least because of some sophisticated, intelligent and polished performances. Phoebe simply shone in the central role of Elle Woods, displaying every emotion with sincerity but also lovely comic timing. James, despite suffering from galloping laryngitis performed with exceptional skill and professionalism rarely seen in someone of his age and made every single member of the audience take him to their hearts. Izzy was a paragon of comic timing and completely convincing as the lovable hairdresser, Paulette. Michael brought suitable swagger to the role of Callahan and Lower Fifth pupil, Eddie revelled in the character of the heart-throb Warner. Daisy, Talia and Genevieve led the Greek Chorus and Delta Nu girls with energy that simply flew through the fourth wall and the entire ensemble quite literally raised the roof of the Leatherhead Theatre.
Ollie White, Director of Performing Arts said: ‘The Performing Arts Department of St John’s are justly proud of their cast and hugely grateful to the staff at the Leatherhead Theatre for their expertise and to the band who helped lift the cast for the final push to the finishing line. Many members of the audience including professional performers in music and theatre and many Drama and Music staff from other schools claimed that it was the best school production they had ever seen; we may have set the bar high but we like a challenge.”
On both evenings the entire audience left with beaming smiles and shared their pride and reviews with us via Twitter.
Including the following remarks:
“So professional, so much talent and so much fun!” and “Oh Wow! What a phenomenal performance. So, so proud!!” – The Head, Rowena Cole.
“Extraordinary performance of #LegallyBlonde from your quite remarkable students at @StJohnsSurrey - your performing arts staff team should be so proud”
“Well done - a fantastic show. Would pass for the West End. Had to keep reminding myself that these are school pupils not professional actors. Phenomenal talent. See you in two years!”
The choice for the 2021 Musical is already whittled down to three…