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Senior School pupils concluded the first half of Lent term with a joyous and entertaining production of Cole Porter’s classic musical, Anything Goes, performed at the artsdepot in North London across four packed performances.

The school musical takes place every two years and is open to pupils in Y10-13. It’s an exciting opportunity for Music and Drama to collaborate professionally, and, with the expert tuition from the dance coaches, enables pupils to develop the three skills essential to musical theatre: singing, acting and dance. Over 30 performers took to the stage, supported by a professional band in the pit, which featured two Highgate pupils (Fernando on percussion and Luella on trumpet), and a team of students working backstage.

Sadie Y13, who played Reno, one of the lead roles, enthused: “The musical is one of my favourite parts of Highgate. Because of the intensive rehearsals, there is an opportunity to mix and befriend so many different people. It’s honestly the best experience.”

As the rehearsal period spans nearly 5 months, the cast become very supportive of one another, enabling them to take risks in their work and challenge themselves without fear or judgement. They learn valuable skills in teamwork, how to problem solve and the important realisation that hard work can also be joyful!

Joe Y12, who played Billy Crocker, explains: “Having joined Highgate this year in the Sixth Form, the musical has been such an incredible way to get to know so many of my peers and so many of the staff across the senior school. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

This year we had pupils operating the lighting and sound desk, two pupils up in the flies on the follow spots and a team working backstage, including a DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) and ASM (Assistant Stage Manager). As the DSM, Y13 pupil Eloise called her first show: “Being the DSM means I have my script and headset on and cue everything technical; lighting, sound, mics, fly, you name it I called it!”

She adds; “At first, I was nervous about making errors and letting people down but after rehearsing I gained faith in myself and my abilities and just jumped in headfirst and it paid off. It’s given me a lot more confidence in myself and my (hopefully) future career whilst also having fun doing something I love.” Eloise plans to pursue her theatrical interests at a London based drama school in September, when she leaves Highgate.

Anything Goes is very much an ensemble piece and the big dance numbers were cleverly choreographed by our two dance coaches, who created some really exciting showstopping pieces. Every single member of the cast shone in some way, both the standout leads and the more minor roles.

By taking the production to an external venue, pupils both in the cast and as part of the technical team gain an insight into the workings of a professional theatre, including more advanced technology, the need to work at a different level to fill the space, and simply the feeling of performing in front of a much larger audience.

Juliet Fehr, Director of Drama, concludes: “The buzz of working with others on something that you are all equally invested and interested in, particularly when it involves the level of focus and commitment required of a musical, is very exciting. The pupils appreciate the sheer joy of doing something you love and doing it well, and when the end product of that involves a live audience, it’s a feeling that no other situation can create.

“As one of the younger members of the cast said before the final night of Anything Goes, ‘I didn’t know it would feel like THIS!’”

Juliet shares further insights about life in the Drama Department in our Highgate Voices blog.