Madcap adventures for talented Prudhoe pupils

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17 July 2017 12:01PM

DIEHARD fans of Prudhoe High School shows have been known to turn up dressed for the icy blasts of the old school hall, carrying cushions as defence against the plastic seats, but confident in the knowledge they were about to be thoroughly entertained.

Those days are gone. The new venue is positively balmy and there’s nothing to do but sit back and lose yourself in the musical magic on stage.

That’s what happened last week during the run of Alice, a new musical adaptation from the pens of Prudhoe High School teachers Karl Boyd and Yvonne Rushmere.

The production kept closely to both Alice books by Lewis Carroll and incorporated most of his original poems set to music, such as Jabberwocky and The Walrus and the Carpenter as well as many new songs carrying parts of the narrative.

The result was a slickly- directed, fast-paced, visually- stunning and hilarious adaptation with some incredibly dark moments.

Julia Maughan as Wonderland Alice not only looked the part but showed real range as both an actress and a singer as she navigated the weirdness.

In act two, the Alice baton was handed to Charlotte Jones as Looking Glass Alice, who gave an equally outstanding performance.

Prudhoe productions always involve a strong ensemble cast and Alice was no exception, with almost all actors playing at least two roles.

Adam Winskill is to be congratulated for his stamina as much as his acting ability, playing just about every incidental small role from a talking crab to clouds as well as inhabiting the role of the Gryphon and the White King.

The versatile Calum Bruce went from being a frantic white rabbit in Wonderland to a Scotch egg of a Humpty Dumpty and a suave lion in Looking Glass.

Emma Richardson’s wonderful Queen of Hearts/Red Queen underwent unnerving changes of personality mid-sentence and Katie Robinson’s duchess was similarly unhinged.

Thomas Why’s Mad Hatter was terrifying in the best possible way and the whole sequence of his tea party with Lewis Gate’s comic March Hair and Darci Wilson’s Dormouse was executed brilliantly.

Also comic gold were Megan Goodwin’s tearful Winehouse-esque Mock Turtle and Megan Leonard’s Ska dancing Caterpillar.

Simon Weatherspoon’s cross-dressing, boozy Cheshire Cat was thoroughly entertaining, as was Olivia Grevett’s White Queen.

The hilarious battle of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, played by identical twins Cara and Jordan Shipley, escalated into full scale tank versus aircraft warfare.

In the Looking Glass Garden, chav daisies Louise Withnell and Holly Thorndycraft-Parl took on the more ‘cultivated’ rose and tiger-lily, played by Selma Bahner and Megan Goodwin.

Even with so many stunning voices on display, Lauren Young’s moody mouse ballad stood out, as did Holly Thorndycraft-Park and Catherine Revill’s Who in the World.

Abi Potter was strong in her range of cameos and Lucy Robinson was convincing as both the cook and the faun.

As with a number of Year 13s, this was Fin Baird’s first school show and he made his presence felt, particularly during moments of physical theatre.

Special mention must go to veteran of seven shows Amy Connolly who showed her comic timing, particularly as the frog.

The youngest member of the company, Louis Boyd, aged just seven, carried off his roles entertainingly.

The illusion of Wonderland Alice and Looking Glass Alice swapping places on different sides of the acting space was the work of technical director Malcolm York.

And with original props created by Karl Boyd and technician Conor Browne, who also helped construct the sumptuous costumes from the hand of Mrs June Boyd, no matter where you looked there was something to gladden the eye.

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