When it comes to putting on a good show, the students of Staveley’s Springwell Community College are in a class of their own.
Their production of John Godber’s comedy Teechers earned them the equivalent of a gold star - a standing ovation from the audience.
Well deserved it was too. The thought-provoking production was brilliantly done by a diamond dozen performers who injected their lively personalities into an energetic and engaging show.
It was a bold choice for the college, with occasional colourful language that caused giggles rather than offence among the generations of viewers watching the final performance last night (Thursday, December 12).
Springwell put their own stamp on Teechers by updating it to include a Glee homage (with a bit of ad-libbing thrown in when the soundtrack was slow to kick in), a Gangnam Style ensemble dance and references to Neighbours and EastEnders.
One of the finest scenes was when the three lead characters morphed into Ninja warriors for an incredible piece of balletic movement, choreographed by Caroline Hoyle.
Minimal props enabled freedom of movement around the uncluttered performance space as cast members gave well-judged portrayals of gobby, disinterested students and committed, career-driven teachers or their disillusioned colleagues.
Leading actors Evan Mason, Joshua Holmes and Maddison Oakley took on the roles of the comprehensive school leavers who turned back the clock on their journey through the education system which they did in the form of a play.
They worked their socks off to characterise the disillusioned teemagers for whom the future looked bleak until the arrival of a new teacher (a convincing performance by Cameron Whaddops) who inspired them through the power of drama. But as his students’ desire to learn grew, so did the newcomer’s disiullusionment with the state education system which saw 15 per cent of comp school pupils achieve 5 O-level passes, compared to the 80 per cent of pupils in posh, fee-paying schools with better facilities.
Evan showed his versatility as an actor by switching to the role of grumpy, deputy head. Maddison was the perfect match for her alter-ego role as the dolly-bird PE teacher and Josh played a blinder in his role as a tennis game spectator when he tapped his foot to mimic the sound of the ball hitting the court.
Rock-solid support came from Sophie Littlewood as the eccentric headmistress with a love of musicals, Jack Hibbert as the moaning caretaker and Joshua Wilde as the grinning school bully.
Produced by the college’s English department and directed by Nerys McCabe, Katie Cook and Ann Foxley-Johnson, this production of Teechers ticked all the boxes.
Springwell’s production earns higher marks from me than a professional version I saw at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre earlier in the year.