This was my first experience of seeing the young actors from Preston’s College Performing Arts. Their production was the High School edition of the popular film starring Tom Cruise, so was little tamer in places.
Once Upon a Mattress is a Musical Comedy written in 1959 by the combined talents of Mary Rogers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller and Jay Thompson, and enjoyed success over in the good ol' US of A. However, the West End run in 1960 closed after only 26 performances. Watching the Musical for the first time this evening it was easy to see why.
Now in its third year, The Arden's 2-day Fringe Festival with work from students on both the Dance And Performance Course and the Theatre And Performance Course. (hence the TAP of the title), this is a mini-festival in itself. Garlands and balloons adorning the whole building, and the festival starting with two of the students twirling fire on the road outside.
With the opening bars of music being The Teddy Bears' Picnic, and seeing a costumed bear wandering across the stage following a costumed wolf, one might be forgiven for thinking that the title was misspelled and it was a show for children. Think again! No, despite the strange array of colourful and fancy costumes, this was writer Cathy Crabb's very disappointing lacklustre script about a Saddleworth tradition. That of organising a pub crawl for charity, and asking the participants to go around the pre-organised route in teams and in fancy dress.
The students at Pendelton Six Form Centre (part of Salford City College), have a reputation for excellence and taking their ages and experiences into consideration, they never disappoint. But tonight's offering of a vibrant, urgent and immediate West Side Story, played in the round, has raised the bar even higher!
Yet another successful performance by students at The Arden. This time it was the turn of first years on the BA (Hons) Dance And Performance programme who took the spotlight. This 50 minute 'showcase' entitled, 'Not Another News Story' was co-ordinated and directed by Belinda Grantham with choreographies from tutors Craig Bennett, Megan Elliott, Ben Manuel, Hannah Thompson, Sina Williams, and Tomas Simon.
Whilst Dagenham may be renowned for the Ford production company, LIPA 2nd year acting students should most certainly be renowned for their talent, tenacity and dedication to delivering a true and heart-warming tale of the power of women and solidarity at The Paul McCartney Auditorium, Liverpool.
The increasingly impressive UMMTS [University Of Manchester Musical Theatre Society] have done it again, and produced yet another hit show to add to their growing collection.
Do you want to see a brand new student devised and written Musical comedy? Do you want to laugh and be entertained for 90 minutes with some witty and slick Musical numbers and some lovely choreography? Then forget Brexit and the state of the world, and immerse yourself in a rather dark and humorous tale of jealousy and revenge in the best ever possible taste!
I am so glad I was able to watch this evening's showcase from students at Pendleton Sixth Form Centre of Salford City College. So far I have seen plays, singing showcases and Musicals from these students, but until tonight, never seen them purely dancing. Moreover, what was so wonderful was that these routines were not specially prepared for the evening, but are dances that form part of their coursework, and is part of their quotidian curriculum at the college, so they weren't 'putting on an act' for the public!
It has oft been said that the best way to learn to swim is by jumping straight into the deep end; I had never thought before that this analogy might also apply to fledgling directors. But for the two seventeen year old students who made their directing debut this evening with one of the 20th century's most lauded and acknowledged seminal classics, this was nothing short of a baptism of fire.
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