July 2022 we decided to book the licence for this fantastic show based on the Paramount movie written by Mike White, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber Book by Julian Fellowes, and Lyrics by Glenn Slater. Being the first granted the licence, we had much pressure to succeed but complete faith in our students and team to pull this off.
Before the rehearsal process could start, our team got to work planning and designing. Choreographer Caroline Barnes and assistant Abbie Eldon explored the music and how to bring these individual characters to life through movement. With the help of Josh Elliot, Musical Director Chloe Carroll made and developed the rehearsal tracks for the cast. Dominic Clarson and assistant director Leah Sawyer mapped out and planned the direction for the scenes. Chris Witham and Eliot Walker designed and collaborated with external companies to produce the set structure, visuals, logos, Marketing video…etc. Caryl Horsely created mood boards of inspiration and compared versions of the costumes to get the best quality. And so much more…
September 2022, we began our process of auditioning, casting and rehearsing this group of ‘uber-talented young performers’ (Daily Echo). This process takes months of staging, rehearsing, tweaking and cleaning to get to a point it’s ready for the stage. Between September and February, the students worked their socks off to put together this mind-blowing show, putting their all into making this production the best it can be.
In February 2023, we had our final few rehearsals where we pieced the show together, gave final notes and worked on the tricky transitions needed to pull this show off. It was then time for the ‘get-in’. With the help of the production manager, Eliot Walker, we erected the set, placed and organised mics and rigged the lighting. A big thank you should go out to all the extra hands who helped with the get-in; it wouldn’t have happened without you. Also, a massive thank you to the CPS group for partnering with us and supplying the technical equipment for the show. By the end of day one, everything was ready for the eager students the next day, and our vision was coming to life, completely different to anything we had previously done.
Our incredible cast, thrilled with excitement, came prepared for the technical rehearsal the following day. Each team, four in total, blocked and ran numbers. Costumes were worn and seeing all the students fully embody their characters was so exciting. Then, for the final few days, the company did full run-throughs of the show to see accurately how it would be on an opening day. And when opening night hit, the show did not disappoint! Six months of hard work truly paid off! As the daily echo said, “What shines through is the professionalism, raw talent and sheer passion of every single cast member as they come together to Stick It To The Man.” Every single cast member captivated the audience with the insane talent that runs through Swish.
“Lewis Simons had huge shoes to fill as Dewey Finn. But he effortlessly commanded the stage, and the entire show, with his easy, relaxed confidence – centre stage is clearly right where he’s meant to be. Superb acting skills and a fantastic voice to boot.”
Alongside him were the excellent Keziah Newman and Alexandra Wischhusen, who shared the role of Rosalie Mullins. “With a quiet authority and maturity way beyond” their years, the girls showcased “a wonderful power” through singing and characterisation.
On behalf of Swish, we’d also like to give our Dance captain, Saidi Partridge, a massive shout-out! Her quick thinking and insane dancing talent meant this show ran smoothly! Thank you, Saidi!
We are so proud of every single student who stepped on that stage. The show was impeccable, and just like the Daily Echo wrote, “it’s easy to forget this is an amateur company, and not one on tour from the West End.”. Thank you to everyone who got involved. Till next year…. SCHOOLS OUT!