Beasts and Beauties

This year’s school production was Beasts and Beauties, a retelling of some of Europe’s best-known and well-loved tales, each with surprises, action, humour – or all three – thrown in!

Produced and directed by the WGS Drama Department and supported by the Music Department, 67 Senior and Sixth Form pupils performed the series of short plays: Beauty and the Beast, Blue Beard, The Husband who was to Mind the House, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Girl and the North Wind. In addition, two Sixth Form pupils made their directorial debuts, with Ruby K directing the thriller, Blue Beard, and Fiona T taking on the magical tale of The Girl and the North Wind. The series of vignettes was performed over two nights on February 25th and 26th and then again during the day for the whole of the WGS Junior School.

The show also involved some amazing shadow puppetry performed by pupils and staff backstage. They created a constantly moving and dynamic backdrop to the set as well as advancing the storytelling with animations which added, right on cue, to the humour or drama onstage.

An original musical score was played live by Director of Music Mrs Sargent and her dedicated band of nine musicians, synching seamlessly with the storylines to create atmosphere and substance to the drama being enacted. The music took elements from the original compositions of last year’s GCSE Music pupils and was added to and scored by Mrs Sargent.

Ranging from romance, to satire, to farce, drama and thriller, our young actors from Year 7 through to Year 13 put in some stellar performances and truly shone! The production began with the Brothers Grimm tale of Blue Beard, who hides some dark secrets in his closet. In the farce, The Husband who was to Mind the House, we were told of a wife and husband who swap roles with disastrous consequences.  Romance followed with the well-loved French folktale of Beauty and the Beast. This play had two casts made up entirely of Year 7 pupils who performed alternately at the two evening performances, in Senior School Assembly, and to the Junior School. The poignancy of the story shone through but there were plenty of laughs too, provided by Belle’s extremely nasty and vain sisters. Vanity was also the theme of the comedy satire, The Emperor’s New Clothes, which showcased some superb character acting. The evening ended with the whimsical and magical tale of The Girl and the North Wind, also with wonderful portrayals of the courageous and the contemptible.

Also supporting the show was a fantastic team of technically talented pupils who supported Performing Arts Technician Mr Walsh with brilliant lighting and most impressive special effects and technical wizardry.

Head of Drama Mrs Lucy Berry said: “We have been so fortunate to work with such talented and creative students and are truly grateful for the support and ingenuity of the production team. We hope that all those involved have learnt key life skills throughout the process – perseverance, dedication, commitment, confidence and creativity – whilst making memories that will be treasured.”

Headmistress Mrs Sarah Haslam said: “It was a delight to see the result of so many months of great teamwork, imagination, ingenuity and commitment. We are very proud indeed of what our pupils and staff have created and achieved together. Congratulations to them all!”

**Beasts and Beauties was adapted by Carol Ann Duffy and dramatised by Melly Still and Tim Supple. By arrangement with Knight Hall Agency Ltd.