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The Halls Are Alive

Harvey Waller - Thursday, December 19, 2019
The Halls Are Alive

With the Sound of Music

Miss Roger's Review

The PCS annual production is always a highlight of the school calendar and this years offering was no exception! With its large cast, diverse settings, challenging musical arrangements and complex political backdrop, staging The Sound of Music is no easy task for even the most experienced, well-funded company. For a secondary school to attempt this is nothing short of heroic!

Speaking of heroes, the depiction of the vivacious Maria, by our very own Katie in Year 11 was remarkable. Her vocal ability is awe-inspiring but it was the warmth and expression of her performance that made the audience fall in love with her much earlier in the piece than Daniel’s suitably austere Captain Von Trapp realized that he had.

The affection which Katie’s Maria was held in was also compellingly conveyed by an army of nuns. Those of us on the staff who have the pleasure of teaching Kelly, Crystal, Charlotte, Danielle, Sophie, Rialle and Freya saw a different side of them in these roles. Their serene poise coupled with their heavenly singing voices were a revelation! Beau and Akosua deserve a special mention for their spectacular depiction of sisters who were the very picture of chastity, poverty and obedience. It was the subtlety and restraint of Rose’s mother superior however that stole the show in the abbey scenes.

However, it was the Von Trapp children whose devotion to Katie’s charming Maria that is key to the plot of this narrative. Abigail’s credible depiction of a Liesl, the teenager convinced that she no longer needs adult guidance, will have been familiar to many a parent in the audience, as will the preciosity of Rolf played by Jack, in his conviction that, as a 17 year old, he is capable of provide direction to the younger Liesl. In role as the Captain’s younger children Monty, Libby, Eddie, Emily and Isabella successfully inhabited the characters perceptively identified by Maria in the script whilst Erin’s Gretel was positively angelic. It was these sensitive interpretations that that prevented the younger Von Trapps from becoming the navy issue facsimiles that their father attempts to create. Tegan, in role asFrau Schmidt convincingly conveys the Von Trapp’s Housekeepers frustration at the Captain’s attempts to maintain these military standards of order.

Not all the characters in this production are equally loveably however and Sophia’s mercurial and avaricious portrayal of Frau Schrader along with Samuel’s rendition of the self-interested and egotistical Max Detweiller persuasively reminds the audience that in Nazi led Austria, as in every society, that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. Such roles are among the most challenging to play and both deployed theirs with aplomb.

After an uplifting first act, the 2nd half of the show takes a dark turn and Florence and Lucy courageously presented us with appropriately intimidating Nazis. The scene at the musical festival expertly captured the menace of the situation and Samantha’s chilly lighting combined with shockingly convincing set adorned with swastikas challenged the audience to confront a difficult section of this production. Daniel’s terror as he poignantly sang the Ode to his homeland; Edelweiss, was palpable.In such a tense segment, Amber’s gloriously self centred Opera Singer provided some much needed light relief and with his various roles as Bishop and a Nazi Soldier, Harrison seems to have cornered the market with playing authority figures! The performances of both adeptly proved the old adage that there are no small parts only small performances and the grandeur of theirs rivalled Austria’s awe inspiring mountains.

At the close of the show it is with a heavy heart that we see Captain Von Trapp, his new wife and their seven children escape across the hills to Switzerland. The strain of this enforced exile was effectively communicated to the audience by inspired direction that had them climb through the audience to the back of the stalls. Yet another example of the imaginative and professional staging led by Mrs Alborough and Mr Robertson along with the rest of drama team (and staff volunteers) that render each year’s production more successful than the last. This poignant end is a timely reminder to us all of the importance of standing by your principles and the need for empathy when others are forced to leave all that is familiar in order to ensure their safety.

"I just wanted to let you know how absolutely impressed I was when I attended your school play this week. My sister invited me to attend - Rosemary Paget Crowe - so as to add support to the event and to the students.

It was truly amazing with some wonderfully talented students and the effort from everyone involved was incredible. I had a lovely evening and felt it important to say so. Please send my thanks to all involved. "
Georgina Paget

"I attended the performance of The Sound of Music at your school last night and I just wanted to write and let you know how extremely impressed I was by the performance and how much I enjoyed it. The performances by the young actors were I thought outstanding and I was captivated throughout the whole performance.

The one thing that stood out for me (in addition to the splendid music, scenery, costumes and all the practical aspects of the performance) was the sheer joy that it seemed to give to all of the students involved. I felt a real sense of joy and fellowship among all of the young performers which was truly contagious to those in the audience.

It is such a wonderful opportunity for a school to provide to their attending students and the staff and families of the children involved should be really proud of what they have achieved. Best wishes for the final performance this evening. Thanks again for a great evening!"
Sara Birch

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"A massive thank you to everyone that was involved in making the show such a success. I was totally blow away by it and by the sheer joy and emotion that it evoked in all who were there. I genuinely don’t know how the team do it.

If you want to know what community is all about you need to have seen a PCS production. Bringing together students from different groups to work as one.
Really up lifting. Well done, and thank you."
Rachel Henocq

"If you want to feel really good, you must try to get in to see the Sound of Music. This is a fantastic performance with a cast of thousands (well nearly!).
The production was amazing with brilliant performances from all of the students. Wonderful singing, great acting with a range of emotions and lots of humour.

The sets are brilliant and are moved around expertly to make scene changes seamless. The musical accompaniment, throughout was excellent.
The lighting atmospheric and even smoke machine the final scene. What a fantastic company. I think that this is the best PCS production I have seen.

Well done Jenny, Mark and all involved. Thank you for a great evening."
Darren Warner-Swann

"I have just returned home from a fantastic evening watching the Sound of Music. A truly amazing production, set and performances from all students. If you have yet to buy your tickets, it is not to late! I would strong recommend going to see such a great show. Well done to all involved in organising such a tremendous evening."
James Broadbent