On Saturday 23 September, students who are involved in the musical Hairspray, which we are performing from 30th November to 2nd December, were offered the opportunity to take part in a workshop with Layton Williams and then go to watch him in the UK professional tour of Hairspray. You might have seen Williams on TV, in Bad Education, but he is no stranger to musicals, having previously played Billy Elliot, Young Michael in Thriller Live, Angel in Rent, amongst many other things.
He was certainly no stranger to the students, who went wild when he entered the room, during the warm up. He then encouraged them to sing “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, (as if we haven’t heard it enough this term), and proceeded to teach them a dance which involved working with a partner. It was a challenging routine but I know my partner and I had lots of fun. He also repeated instructions which Mrs McCallum and I are always telling them, about keeping the moves clean and clear whilst in unison, and not to copy the person in front of you, and exposed them to information about life on tour (he was having to protect his voice as he had to perform in two shows that day.
It was then time to go and watch him in action, so whilst he then went for his warm up, we ate our packed lunches and the students bought snacks, under the strict proviso that the crinkling of wrappers could only occur before the show started and at the interval. The students were an absolute credit to us all day, and I’m sure Williams enjoyed working with them. They were totally engaged in the performance, gathering lots of ideas for their characters and costumes, and up on their feet during the finale, now knowing the ‘real’ dance for “You Can’t Stop the Beat”. We even got a wave from Williams during the bows, which sent them into hysterics.
After a long day it was time to get the coach back, but our fun didn’t stop there, with a Facetime from Williams, and a lovely message about how we “made his show” that day with our enjoyment, cheers and support.
Now the standard is set, and we need to get our production as good as it can possibly be. We are now at the stage with choreography almost all set, so it is over to the students to be rehearsing lines, harmonies and dances, so please encourage them to practise as much as possible. We still have quite a way to go, and although we have provided as many costumes as possible, with a cast of 56 some sourcing by parents will need to happen over the October holiday. Hopefully this won’t be too difficult, as the 50s and 60s have never really left us. Students have been sent information of what they will need for the production, and we will continue to find whatever we can.
The countdown is on, and many tickets have already been sold, so please contact the school office to reserve yours. Some of our Windermere School Performing Arts Facebook posts have received over 1000 hits, so it could mean that tickets are very popular, and we would hate for you to miss out. The Facebook page is also an excellent way to keep track of the developments of the production and see what the cast and crew have been up to.
Watch this space.
Miss Byrom, Head of Drama
Three of our four daughters have been boarders at the Senior School following our unexpected move to Hong Kong in 2012. One moved back to board at Windermere following two years in Hong Kong and our youngest can't wait to follow in her footsteps and return as an overseas boarder into Year 9. We cannot fault the standard of education and care which the girls have enjoyed throughout their Windermere journeys. In particular, we love the location - and the way in which the Lake District becomes part of the curriculum - and the international flavour of the Senior School.
Windermere School is such a unique community to be a part of. Not only is it based in a truly beautiful and inspiring national park, but the environment created by staff and students alike makes for an incredibly supportive, proactive, exciting and international place of learning in which everyone can thrive and be the best they can be.