On Thursday, 19th March and Friday, 20th March, the Musical Theatre Society at the Henrietta Barnett School brought a little bit of West End and Broadway magic to the school stage, for what proved to be an incredible show. Full of flawless vocals, exciting choreography and some brilliant acting, the show was a chance to broadcast the talent of the students to their peers, many of whom came to support and watch the show.
The show was split into two acts, performed over two lunchtimes, and featured songs from hit musicals such as Mamma Mia, Wicked and High School Musical. Every element, from the lighting, to the costumes, to the choreography had been organised by students. Preparation for the show had begun several months before the show, and it was due to the dedication of the performers to the rehearsal process and of the club leaders to every aspect of the show, that it was such a success.
It was Arista Abbabatulla, a Year 11 student at the school, and a couple of her friends who had initiated the idea nine months ago. She wanted to create something made solely by students which incorporated her love for singing, dancing, acting and especially musical theatre. Admittedly, the job of running a club and all its organisational aspects was far from easy and as said by Arista herself, it requires significant commitment to plan and put things into action. Despite this, she rose to the challenge and the result was a fabulous spectacle that delighted the audience.
Arista, who went on to win a Jack Petchey award, an award that ‘recognises outstanding young people’ in London and Essex, for her commitment to the club and the great positive influence she had on the people she worked with, said “I can honestly say that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. The joy from watching something you’ve planned out in your head come to life with such flair is indescribable.”
Of course, Arista could not have created such a spectacular showcase on her own and it is the teamwork and dedication of many people which makes the show an extra special one. The choreography of the dances, a difficult and very important part, was mainly done by Annabel Bentley, a fellow Year 11 student. Lighting and all the important backstage work was handled by a completely student-composed technical team. Finally, Emily Smyth, Director for Drama at the school, helped with logistics and gave feedback on performances, but was in full support of the student-led aspect of the club.
Although the show was a huge hit with students, due to the timings, it was not kept open to parents, some of whom were keen to see what the students had been working on. However, when running the club in upcoming years, it is hoped that the end result will be an even bigger performance. Parents were obviously missed, but performing the show to their peers was still a very exciting, unforgettable experience for all the students.
Perhaps one of the reasons the show was such a great success and the process so enjoyable to take part in, was because it was student run. This seemed to remove some rigidness and made the experience freer and more exciting. Not only this, but it allowed for interactions between year groups in a closer setting, and as Arista said, helped people form many inter-year friendships.
Whatever the reasons, everyone asked agreed that they had thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and the current Year 10s are hoping to continue the club in the future, bringing more iconic Broadway and West End songs to the HBS stage.
By Aashi Shah