Standing ovation for college stars

ndet 94658 Springwell School, Staveley Dress Rehearsal. L-R, Ellie-May Palmer, Hayley Lockett, Luke Hutchinson, Joe Brough.
ndet 94658 Springwell School, Staveley Dress Rehearsal. L-R, Ellie-May Palmer, Hayley Lockett, Luke Hutchinson, Joe Brough.

STUDENTS highlighted their new college’s status as a specialist base for performing arts by staging a world exclusive of a musical crafted by their teachers.

Babycakes, presented by Springwell Community College at Middlecroft, Staveley, was a powerful piece of theatre, earning its talented troupe a standing ovation at the final performance.

The production offered up valuable lessons, urging young people not to waste the best years of their life by indulging in petty squabbles, bullying or revenge.

Set against a backdrop of rival schools, the production demonstrated that the only difference between the students was their uniforms. This was flagged up by pupils from each school delivering the same speeches, a device also used by the teachers and grandparents characterised in the production.

Babycakes struck the perfect balance between light and shade, laugh-out-loud situations with feisty pensioners and camp staff preceded tear-jerking scenes of tragedy and mourning.

Fifty performers put heart and soul into bringing to life the script written by drama tutor Cuan Jacques and the songs composed by Debbie Rayner, Katie Pettit and Ryan Stacey from the music department.

The production drew on elements of Romeo and Juliet, Waterloo Road and West Side Story to convey a tale of sweethearts from opposing schools fighting prejudice from classmates and family in a vain battle to keep their flame of love alive.

Luke Hutchinson and Hayley Lockett played the star-crossed lovers Jake and Steph, a perfect match of cool guy and pretty girl. At other performances of the show, the role of Steph was played by Ellie May Palmer.

Joe Brough glowered and seethed his way through the show in his role as Alex, the over-protective brother of Steph, whose desire to stop her seeing a lad from a rival school had fatal consequences.

Much of the humour came from John Holmes who gave an outstanding performance as the camp gym instructor, Tom Pratt playing the headteacher with a fetish for women’s clothing, Daniel Shippam as the head’s efficient PA and Kate Plowman as the lovelorn schoolgirl Karen, whose term of endearment was Babycakes.

Some of the top comedy moments revolved around a group of young-at-heart pensioners, played by Liam Parkinson, Elliott Linathan, Rhianne Knightley, Jodie Martin, Chloe Needham, Phoebe Thomas and Lauren Jones, shuffling around on Zimmer frames and walking sticks and even looking old, thanks to Angela Barnston’s make-up skills.

Songs performed by Hayley Lockett, Luke Hutchinson, Tom Pratt, Katie Plowman and Sophia Hawkins (who played teacher Miss Jones) showed that the performers had put as much effort into honing their vocal skills as they had into their acting.

Scaffolding dominated the simple but effective set giving performers a multi-tiered platform on which to project this bold, entertaining and educational work of art.

GAY BOLTON