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Student Review: Year 8 and 9 Drama Trip to London

During Activities Week, Year 8 and Year 9 Drama and Theatre Studies students took a trip to London for a fun-packed, inspirational two days.  Here, some of the girls tell us more.

On Wednesday morning we left school by coach and arrived in London at 12:30pm and we went to Pizza Express for lunch.  Then we watched a matinee performance of Wicked at the Apollo Theatre.  We really enjoyed the musical - it was fantastic!  We then ventured down to The Embankment by the Thames, where we ate our packed dinners with an amazing view of The London Eye.  After taking some group photos with an extremely picturesque background, we headed for the Lyceum Theatre to watch The Lion King.  Lots of us had taken part in the school's production of The Lion King earlier this year so seeing it on The West End was amazing (apart from the fact that we had tostop ourselves from singing along the whole time)!  We thought the costumes were beautiful and the actors and actresses moved just like the animals they were portraying would.  Once the spectacular performance finished, a very tired group of girls headed to the hotel to sleep!

Charlotte Pound, Year 9

On Thursday morning we woke up at 7:30am to have breakfast in Holiday Inn Express.  We then headed to the Greenwich Meridian, which was hugely impressive Afterwards, we cruised along the River Thames and toured towards our destination on land.  This was an entertaining journey and the scenery was stunning.  The cruise was followed with a meal at Planet Hollywood which was burgers and fries (hooray!)  and then finally concluding the trip watching The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time.  The production was spectacular and everyone enjoyed it.  A very creative piece with great actors who portrayed their characters flawlessly, along with a stage performance that uniquely outlined emotions and mindset of the young boy.

Eunseo Yang - Year 9


A Review of ‘Wicked’ by Rose Skirrow

Wicked is a fantastic twist on The Wizard of Oz.  I saw it at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London.  It is a prequel shown from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba) and the Good Witch (Glinda).  It is extremely good and the production was fantastic.

As the story unravels, the audience becomes more and more inclined to sympathise with Elphaba despite the hate thrust upon her by other students because of her well-known green skin.  When the other main character Glinda finally befriends Elphaba, the audience is permitted to do so as well and her character unfolds into a complex, caring and self- doubting personality (a welcome break from Glinda’s bouncy, energetic and over-the-top-character).

Combined within Eplphaba’s journey to find her place in the world, is a love story.  Fiyero fulfils the role of a handsome prince in the tale and tears at the heart of both Glinda (who would happily take him to be her husband) and Elphaba, who doubts she is deserving of such a man and refuses to accept his love until the end.  This is a very typical aspect of any such story and one that really adds to the many layers of the play.

My favourite part of the production though, was how the Director had so cleverly overlapped Wicked with its inspiration: Wizard of Oz.  As the audience, we found out the origins of Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow.  We learn why the house was dropped on the Witch of the East and why Elphaba has green skin and was dubbed the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’.  It was a show of immense imagination and it turned into an amazing show.

However, it did take a little while to get into the show and also, being a musical there was a lot of singing which was (in general) fabulous, it was often quite difficult to hear the words that were sung.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed the production of Wicked and have gone on to recommend it to others to go and see.


'Wicked' review by Matilda Watts

This play is based around 'The Wizard of Oz' by L. F. Baum.  It starts of as the "Wicked Witch of the West" (named Elphaba) and Glinda not liking each other but then becoming friends.  The "Wicked" Witch isn't actually bad in this play but is trying to help the animals.  However, she goes against the "Wonderful" Wizard which means rumours are spread about her being evil.  Also, in the process of looking after her sister, she turns some friends into the Tin Man and Scarecrow as seen in the Wizard of Oz.  The Witch doesn't like Dorothy because she took the shoes of her sister who was squished by the flying house and they were the only things Elphaba had to remember her sister by.  The flying house was in fact a set up by the Wizard to capture Elphaba so she could read spells for him.  Elphaba is supposedly melted and Glinda has to pose for the public as being glad, even though she liked Elphaba and had her own love problems to solve too. The play finishes with the audience seeing that Elphaba actually pretended to melt and was still alive. The play is the past, present and future of 'The Wizard of Oz'.

Elphaba is the main character in the play and portrays the "Wicked Witch of the West". At the start of the story she is very shy and secretive and doesn't join in with other people. This is because she has green skin which is abnormal and people don't often respond positively to that.  However, she spoke out a lot to help her sister so she would have the best experiences in life - because she is wheelchair-bound.  By the interval, Elphaba is very confident and stands up for what she believes in. The end of the play sees her caring so much more about big problems and she feels it is her responsibility to change them.  She changes from a weird nobody to someone who is known throughout the Land of Oz.

Another very main character is Glinda.  She is very popular and always gets her own way. She only cares about boys, looking good and having a better bedroom than everyone else.  She changes by becoming so much more interested about what other people are doing and helping her friends. An example of this is when she goes and talks to Elphaba when she is about to be hurt by soldiers and risks getting herself hurt to make sure her friend is alright. The two girls are seen by other characters in the play as being at opposite ends of the personality spectrum.  

The actors were very impressive.  Their physicality was appropriate to how the characters were feeling.  For example when Elphaba was nervous, she stood at the corner of the stage and away from everyone else. When Glinda was excited, she ran all around the stage like her mind was racing.  This helped tell the story because it gave the audience a clear idea of the situation and led to very little confusion.  One criticism I would have of the actors was that the audience could tell they had performed it several times before  and that it wasn't a live story unfolding.  Other then this, the actors were very good.

The set was the best thing about the play for me.  It moved well across the stage and worked well with the plot. When a character walked off stage to think, the set was cogs which came onto the stage from several directions to show confusion but also covered the back of the stage so another backdrop could appear.  Dogs can represent many things so they were a reasonable choice for the designer to make.  They were massive and almost as tall as the room!  Towers were places at the side of the stage which were used throughout the play. They worked well because they had multiple purposes. An exit for the actors but they also had steps so some parts of the play could be a rested by one actor and others could portray what was being said. They looked very appropriate to the story and really helped to set the scene for the audience. One problem was that not all of the set appeared to be from the same time era so it wasn't fully clear what time the play was set in. The set overall was a key part in engulfing the audience in the play. 

The stand-out costumes of the performance were the Ozians' ones. They were so detailed and really showed how people lived in the Emerald City. They were flamboyant but also based around the colour green which of course represents the Emerald City. The clothes made the characters look very confident and though they were a bit exaggerated, the songs they sang also gave this impression. Therefore, the designer had made appropriate decisions based on the situations the people on stage were in and their characteristics that are very famous. Elphaba's costume told part of her story. It was the part of the plot where she gradually becomes more confident and passionate about the world she lives in. This was done by her slowly accustoming more items of clothing as the play went on. First the audience only saw a coat and a then a thin-strapped old, patchy dress. She then wore a hat and got a broomstick. By the end she also had a cape which made her look like a 'proper' witch and this portrayed the image that the Ozians had in their head that Elphaba was a typical, awful witch. The costumes all worked well with the set to show the state of the characters' emotions as well as to tell the story and show the audience how it progresses. 

Sound was very effectively used in this play. When characters were shy or nervous they spoke quietly to a very quiet, dainty tune but when they were showing off and having ideas, it was so loud it gave the audience a shock! Sound was also used outside of example when a figurehead came onto the stage to represent the Wizard of Oz, it spoke very loudly to show its authority. Lighting only really struck the audience once in the performance. It was in the Emerald City and Elphaba had just got there with Glinda and they didn't know what it was like. The lights were so bright the audience was blinded for a bit but it really showed how Ozians went over the top with everything they do. The only noticeable and memorable technical effect used was when Elphaba seemed to float up to the top of the stage. Unfortunately I had read beforehand how this works but it seemed so effortless in the performance and it didn't take long to set up. However, it also looked very safe and the mechanics that went to it were amazing. So that the audience couldn't see how she was flying lights were used to cover the stage beneath but it was hard to tell if some cloth was in there too because the technology of the lights was so good. Sound, lighting and technical effects all came together in the performance to really make the audience's jaw drop! 

The music in this musical is very memorable and sets the scene in the theatre too. Big numbers had loud music and passionate lyrics where as delicate singers sang to suitable music. Big numbers were placed at the start and end of acts to really grip the audience and the songs worked as a way to make the audience want to know more. The choreography was not particularly specific to the play but you could tell a lot of thought went into it. When the Ozians were being friendly towards each other they often linked arms to dance but when people were upset or angry they would stand at the edges of the stage. Near the end of the play, Elphaba and Glinda are saying goodbye for the last time and they don't move or dance much but stand very close together in the middle of the stage and hold hands which shows how intimate their relationship had grown to be. The music was very particular for the play and especially presented the genre of the musical but the choreography was a bit vaguer. Although, it used a lot of the stage and was pleasant to watch. 

The most memorable, impactful moment of the play was in the song 'Defying Gravity', sung by Elphaba, because she rose up to the top of the stage. Also it was a massive song which required the witch to sing her heart out. The actress did this very well and Elphaba left a lasting impression of finally seeing she can do amazing things like anyone else. She was in fact better than many other people because she could "defy gravity"! It was a good idea putting this at the end of the first act because it gave something for the audience to talk and think about in the interval. This song and staging was the highlight of the play for many audience members because it was so much larger than life and unlike any other musical.

The tone of the play was overall positive and exciting. For the majority of the performance, the audience was made to feel tense but also like something good was about to happen. Most musical numbers were upbeat so kept the play feeling light-hearted. At a few points in the play the audience was supposed to feel nervous and scared for the characters. However, these feelings didn't last long and the audience was soon keen to know what adventures occurred next. The director had done very well at including the audience in the play in this way and the emotions that the characters experienced were often shared with the audience.