Once again the School’s Winter Musical has been likened to a West End show and this year has received standing ovations for its phenomenal entertainment.
The audience arrive to solo singing performances on a stage as if they are in the 1920s Chicago night club themselves, ending with narrator Owen Jenkins’ Fly Me to The Moon to signal the show’s start.
The Brentwood School Dance Academy then delight us with carefully choreographed routines and Chani Merrell (L6) sings a flawless version of the signature All That Jazz as inmate Velma Kelly, with all the gritty determination and girl power that is required of the role.
The first glimpse we get of Catty Holden’s (U6) Roxie Hart is during this routine, as she is seen shooting a lover, and the story is then set. Roxy’s manipulative streak comes out brilliantly and the partnerships with her crooked lawyer Billy Flynn, portrayed by the powerful stage presence of Andrew Onwude (U6), and her vulnerable husband Amos Hart, played by the always comedic Max Golledge (L6), are both captivating. Andrew’s performances during All I Care About is Love, Razzle Dazzle and the technically astonishing We Both Reached for the Gun, in which he mouths both Roxie’s and his words while the gathered press is brainwashed, show his fabulous talent and diversity off considerably. Max brings in the audience with his convincing performance and has them reaching for their tissues as he exits the stage towards the end.
Hannah Walker’s (5th Year) customary soprano range comes through wonderfully during A Little Bit of Good, and Catriona Kadirkamanathan (L6) portrays the untrustworthy but loyal ‘Mama’ with superb style. Her amusing duet with Chani, Class, works so well as both powerful voices fill the auditorium.
You would have been forgiven for thinking that a professional band was hired in to accompany this spectacular, but that was also provided by School pupils, with the exception of Guildhall student and Old Brentwood David Cox, who returned to accompany 1st Year Owen Romhany on the Trombone.
One parent of a First Year girl was heard in the interval saying “I had high expectations, but this has raised the bar” and Headmaster Ian Davies tweeted after the first night: “Lights! Music! All that Jazz! Five days of teamwork, talent, commitment, showcased in our Winter Musical "Chicago". Congratulations and thanks to all involved in this riot of colour, movement and energy. Who needs to go to the West End with shows of this quality in Brentwood?”
Exceptional though the students are, a huge amount of work goes on to put such a show together by a large team of staff and students, led by Director of Performing Arts, Mr Bulmer, with Director of Music Mr Cooper, Director of the Dance Academy Miss Herterich, and Head of Academic Dance Miss Choate. Mr Bulmer has hinted that after three years in America, the School might head to other climes for next year’s musical, but what will it be?