Sensational – that’s just one of hundreds of words that could be used to described the brilliance of this year’s Duchess’s High School musical, We Will Rock You, staged at Alnwick Playhouse.
I had goosebumps from start to finish as, once again, a supremely talented set of young people from the school took to the stage.
The music of Queen is hard enough for even the most skilled musicians to master. Add to that a complex script, tongue twisters and references to song lyrics, and it’s a tough show to take on, but for this cast it was like water off a duck’s back.
They were impeccable and it really was a kind of magic.
The leading roles, played by Cora Drummond as Scaramouche and Isaac Ellis as Galileo, were simply astounding.
Cora is just mesmerising – her voice is stunning and her ability to switch through the emotions, as well as adding in a touch of hilarity, was amazing. She performed with such passion. She is definitely one to watch. Her talents were seemingly endless.
Taking on the role of Galileo requires enormous vocal dexterity and Isaac Ellis mastered this, along with the iconic tunes forever associated with Freddie Mercury.
The chemistry between Cora and Isaac was wonderful to watch.
They play two rebels in a world dominated by computers and devoid of music 300 years in the future. Their mission is to bring life and tunes back to Planet Mall against the will of the Killer Queen, chief executive of the all-powerful Globalsoft Corporation.
Harriet Renner was superb in that role, with her equally brilliant commanders, Oscar Wilson as Khash and Ethan Allan as Oggie. Harriet was the epitome of a woman in power and control – and she has a cracking voice to boot.
Two more musical powerhouses are the sassy rock chick Ruby Falke as Meatloaf and Jack Clements as Britney Spears. Throw in Martin Latto as Pop, and Gordon Rae as Big Macca, and you’ve got yourself a powerful set of performers.
Supported by the chorus, that power just gets stronger and stronger.
This year is the first time a performance has included younger pupils from Years 7 and 8, but their energy and hard work has only boosted the ranks.
In fact, some of the younger performers take solo roles in the finale and their voices, young as they are, were fantastic and added that something extra to the performance.
Of course, the band – made up entirely of pupils from the school and conducted by new staff member Jonathan Ridley – has to be applauded for such stunning renditions of world-class songs.
This year’s band is the youngest it has ever been, but the talent is outstanding. The sensational saxophone from Adam Johnston with We Are the Champions to the stunning guitar solo by Ruari Ryan in Bohemian Rhapsody, and everything else in between, really made the show.
And that leads me to the most spine-tingling part of the production – the outstandingly brilliant rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. I was totally and utterly mesmerised by it.
From the solo roles to the entire cast singing, it was a triumph.
With songs including It’s a Kind of Magic, Don’t Stop Me Now, Under Pressure, Who Wants To Live Forever, Fat-Bottomed Girls, We are the Champions, Radio Gaga and, of course, We Will Rock You, it really was a magical performance.
Every single member of that cast should be congratulated for contributing to such a superb and captivating performance.
But, of course, those behind the production also deserve a mention.
From the superb choreography by Joanne Burn to the costumes by Janet Kidd, the teams behind hair and make-up and the sets, as well as the lighting, which plays a big part in the show, everyone made a huge contribution.
I was lucky enough to see the dress rehearsal and if they can perform like that with only a handful of people watching, then with a full auditorium they really will be magnificent.
This will be the last production for two years by the school as the Playhouse closes for refurbishment in the summer, and they really have made it go with a bang.
Cast: Isaac Ellis, Cora Drummond, Harriet Renner, Jack Clements, Ruby Falke, Oscar Wilson, Ethan Allan, Martin Latto, Gordon Rae, Palesa Thompson, Becca Pitcher, Darci Scott, Emily Breeze, Emma Jackson, Erin Murray, Honey Hughes, Isaac Mills, Isla Morton, Jamie Brown, Jamie Macintosh, Jemima Green, Lauren Robinson, Lucas Thornbury, Maddie Clements, Megan Brown, Phoebe Hayton and Robyn Charlton.
Band: Conductor Jonathan Ridley, Toby Cooke (drums), Ruari Ryan (lead guitar), Adam Johnston (saxophone), Robin Falke (bass guitar), George Moloney and Tom Rippon (keyboards), Jack Clements (rhythm guitar).
The show’s sell-out. Call the Alnwick Playhouse box office for returns 01665 510785.