What a show!
‘Phenomenal’, ‘fantastic’, ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’ were just a few of the superlatives that members of staff received as audiences left the school’s production of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical JR on each of the four nights from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 March 2022.
‘Congratulations. We had one of the best nights in a very long time watching the show. I am still completely in awe of the children who learn all the lines, songs and choreography on top of their everyday school work. I could have clapped all night and if I could, I would have seen every performance. Well done Deer Park!’ Parent.
Matilda The Musical Jr was, indeed, a truly impressive feat and a really enjoyable show, packed with incredible energy and good humour. It was definitely the tonic we all needed and reflected all the attributes of a successful West End musical.
I am immensely proud of what our pupils and Expressive Arts team have been able to achieve in spite of the uncertainties. They have all shown tremendous commitment and demonstrated excellent team work. Our production of Matilda the Musical Jr exemplifies our school aims and standards. It was sophisticated and challenging. Mrs Gleed's (Head of Expressive Arts) high expectations ensured pupils developed resilience and self-discipline. They took responsibility, not only for their own roles, but for each other, the props and set changes. This spirit of collaboration ensured the production was expertly and seamlessly executed! My congratulations go to everyone involved. Thank you.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher
The decision to schedule the musical was taken 12 months ago, just as the school came out of the third period of lockdown, not knowing if we would be able to perform to live audiences, but we were determined to go ahead. The initial auditions were followed by callbacks before the end of the Summer term and in September rehearsals began in earnest and the community of the school gained an insight into the progress that was being made with the release of the ‘Taster’ video online, rather than in person, just before Christmas.
Characteristically, our Expressive Arts team do not do things by half and to ensure that the show was inclusive, not only were many of the lead roles double cast, but the show was also ably supported by pupils in the Band and the Tech Team behind the scenes, managing lighting and sound. Similarly, pupils in Art contributed to the set design.
Mrs Gleed and our Expressive Arts team were also concerned to ensure pupils learnt about how to put on a show of this proportion and, this informal ‘work experience’ meant that many contributed to the planning, choreography, costume design and procurement of props. Our Expressive Arts team took care to recognise these contributions and awarded certificates immediately before the last performance. Pupils stepped forward to express their own learning and gratitude as the final curtain closed after another enthusiastic rendition of the ‘Megamix’ by way of an encore.
Click here to read our pupils' thanks
Joe G: Hello, we just want to thank a few people who have helped this year. Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us this week by coming to watch. It has been a true pleasure to perform to an audience again. This week wouldn’t have run as well as it has without the help of our wonderful teachers from other faculties who have helped with front of house and backstage with the cast. You have all made the cast feel so relaxed and helped us find missing shoes, and tie ties and just been there to calm our nerves. We have also been lucky enough to have the Friends of Deer Park here serving refreshments during the interval. Thank you all so much.
Lexie B: We would also like to thank the Tech Team for making this show shine that little bit brighter and for putting your time and effort into everything. Also, a big thank you to our new head technician Mr Faux for making the show run so smoothly this week. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Joe: This year our set is amazing and that is all down to the fantastic Design team. We have had a wonderful group of Year 11 GCSE Art students work on the flats. The attention to detail and the effort they have put in is second to none and I think you’ll agree that it has paid off. I would like to also give a huge thank you to Mr Gleed who has spent hours making pieces of set for the show. At one point it seemed like he was in every day making something new. It seems like he can make anything, from a bed to mirrors and to a backstage curtain. He has been absolutely amazing and without him so many of the numbers wouldn’t have been as good as they were.
Lexie: Now on to the creative team, I would like to thank you to Joe and Lexi R who are our Assistant Choreographers for everything they have done for the show. They have worked so hard on creating unique choreography for the cast. Their dedication is unmatched! Can we please have Mrs Gleed, Miss Faux, Mr Cook, Mr Reed and Miss Simpson up to the stage please. We just have a few presents and thank yous on behalf of the cast.
This year we have been lucky enough to have one of our Art teachers lead the Design team. Her ideas for the set have been amazing and I am sure you will agree that the set this year is the best yet. So, thank you to Miss Simpson for helping with the design and joining the Expressive Arts team this year and making the set and props look amazing.
Coco: Hi I am Coco and I play Mrs Phelps. Thank you all for coming to watch Matilda. I am really happy we had the opportunity to perform this, but it would not have been possible without the teachers, and the pupils would like to thank Mr Reed. Mr Reed was my very first Drama teacher at Deer Park and helped fuel my love for drama which led me to love performing. He was really helpful in my rehearsals, helping me understand my character and how to perform it. He does great motivational speeches that help inspire the cast and help us stop being as nervous.
Stanley and Alfie: Mr Cook was an excellent Band leader. He was very patient whilst we figured out what we had to play and practised it. He also inspired us to give everything we have, to be part of this amazing experience. I’ve loved it all and I’m really proud to have been part of this amazing performance. Thank you, Mr Cook!
Lowri: Miss Faux, on behalf of the entire cast, thank you for all your patience and dedication throughout the rehearsal process and the shows themselves. As we have seen tonight, you’re in the band, but behind the scenes you’ve been invaluable in the rehearsals, and I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. Some of us have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to take part in three musicals at Deer Park, and from where we were Year 7s in Legally Blonde up until now, you have made the rehearsals so fun and enjoyable, and even organising Teams meetings so we wouldn’t miss out too much while working from home! Without you, and your Heidi, this production would not have been the same. So from all of us, a huge thanks you for your hard work.
Carys: Hi I’m Carys and I play Lavender. A lot of effort and time has been put into this show from everyone. However, without Mrs Gleed this wouldn’t have been possible. And it sounds cliché but it's true. When Joe asked me to do this speech, I was nervous as I felt so much pressure as there are not enough words to describe Mrs Gleed. She has such a high standard which pushes everyone to work harder, and she sees things that we don’t see. I don’t remember much of Year 7 when I look back, but I will never forget Legally Blonde when I didn’t have a clue, but it sparked in me something that made me want to come back every show. This show is just the tip of the iceberg of what Mrs Gleed does and personally I cannot thank her enough for what she’s done for me. She always goes above and beyond, and we are all so grateful for her. Looking around sixth forms, I am also checking if the Drama is Mrs Gleed material, and none are as she is one of a kind.
Joe: We also have two little things from the cast for the Expressive Arts team to put in their office to remember Matilda forever.
Lexie: Joe and I would like to personally thank the whole cast for making our final production amazing. There aren’t any other people we’d like to share the stage with. The effort all of you have put in over 7 months is genuinely incredible. I hope that each and every one of you know how important you were to making Matilda 2022. So can we all give a massive round of applause for the cast behind me.
Lexie: If you told me in Year 7 that I would be stood here on this stage after my final production at Deer Park, having performing alongside my best friend for the last time, while singing a solo song in front of a sold-out audience, I wouldn’t have believed you. Everything you’ve seen on this stage tonight is a reflection of Expressive Arts and their ability to instil confidence in pupils and set them up for the rest of their life. I’ll forever thank Expressive Arts for making my time at Deer Park incredible and setting me up for the future.
Joe: Expressive Arts is the best part of Deer Park. The Expressive Arts faculty is the one place I feel truly comfortable to be me and that is done with the love, support and encouragement that the Expressive Arts team give to anybody who walked in. 8 years ago I came to Deer Park with Chesterton Primary and watched Hairspray, and as a little Year 3 I knew, right then, that that’s where I wanted to be for the rest of my life - up, performing on the Deer Park stage. There is no place I would want to be more than dancing in EA1. Roald Dahl once said 'Somewhere inside us all is the power to change the world'. I think that this quote best applies to the Expressive Arts faculty. I think it's magical how such a small faculty has the power to change the world for every person who walks through their doors. I know that when I leave Deer Park, I will never fully leave as my heart will forever be in Expressive Arts.
Mrs Gleed, Head of Expressive Arts: 'I am elated that we made it to show week! It isn’t just about that week but it is the cherry on top of an amazing experience for everyone involved. I feel such pride when I see the cast working together, the doubles helping each other when one has been off isolating, seeing them cheer each other on in the wings. They have had great training for the team and learnt so much, but they have been on such a journey together, making new friends and being a part of something special in such an unusual time.'
Feedback from the audience:
‘I just felt I wanted to put into writing my absolute joy at seeing Matilda The Musical Jr. It was absolutely fabulous and worthy of professional status in my view. I was emotional throughout with pride and admiration for the talent on show and the work and commitment that had gone into putting on such a performance by all the children and teachers. What a wonderful experience to be part of, I know my daughter has learnt so much and relished every moment. Congratulations to you and your team. Excellent!’ Parent of pupil in Year 9.
‘Miss Dovey and I really enjoyed the performance of Matilda. I am always in awe of the talent on show and it was a joy to experience. It is a phenomenal achievement to put on such a high quality of performance even in ‘normal’ times, so to plan something on this scale under the COVID restrictions is truly brilliant.’ Miss Lillington, former teacher and school leader.
'We thoroughly enjoyed watching both casts and the band perform a spectacular show this week and we take our hats off to everyone involved for their skill, energy and commitment. We loved the fact that so many children were involved on stage - the impact of the whole chorus was huge. The behind the scenes work and support is also very much appreciated not forgetting the fantastic artwork and design from the stage set to the programme. Thank you for giving our son this amazing opportunity.' Parent of pupil in Year 10
‘What an amazing performance! As a family, we all really enjoyed the entire production and it was fantastic to be able to be in school again. All the children and staff deserve to be incredibly proud of all the hard work, commitment and dedication to put on such a wonderful musical. Congratulations to all!’ Parent and member of the school’s local governing body.
Our Tech Team:
Click here to read Miss Faux's comments
Here we share part of Music Teacher and Band member Miss Faux's speech to the cast on Saturday evening:
The one word that kept coming back to me is PROUD! Immensely proud!! Of every single one of you, and you should be feeling that same pride yourselves because what you have achieved is incredible and against the grain!
Two years ago we were thrown into a crazy new world of lockdowns, working from home, not seeing loved ones, not being allowed to do things we enjoy. And when we first came back to school, it was still so restricted and lonely in a way. This building has always been buzzing and it stood empty at break and lunches, before school and after school. We came in, we taught, we went home. We only spoke to and saw pupils in lessons - we hated it! But now, because of Matilda, because of you lot, it feels as it should be again!
We have had so much amazing feedback from this show - staff, parents, ex pupils have all said it is phenomenal! And it truly is. We put our heart and soul and whole life into this for the last few months, and we are there with you as you perform those epic moment and smash it every night!
Another reason we love the musical is the discoveries we make, the platform it gives for you to show us what you’re made of!
It also makes me proud when sitting up at the piano seeing everyone pull their weight backstage making it work, doing their bit for everyone, amazing teamwork.
Nothing beats seeing you knock your performances out the park and hearing the audience applause you and seeing your confidence soar right there!
Please do carry on - keep up your enthusiasm for Ex Arts. Most of you have so much more to give and there will be more opportunities in the future! Please come in and make music, sing, dance, keep the buzz back firmly in this place!
We hope you have gained a lot from this experience and know that it has shaped many of you in this room - pushed you to grow in confidence and formed new friendships, build your skills and shape your futures. Keep doing what you enjoy, passion is so important in life.
You guys make us love our job even more every single day. We are seriously the luckiest teachers in the world to work with pupils like you, so well done and thank you. We are all so, so proud of you!!