There was less ‘Hairspray’ and more hair raising moments as Senior School girls returned to the Northern Stage for another spectacular production. Those of you that were able to come and watch will know that the performances were a triumph, with the cast wowing nearly 1500 people over four shows, including sell-out performances on Friday and Saturday evening.

This year NHSG ditched the ribbons for rags to perform one of the most beloved British musicals, Oliver!, bringing to life Dickens’ timeless characters with its infamous story of the orphan boy who asked for more. Nearly 100 girls took part in the hit musical, which originally premiered in the West End in 1960 and ran for an impressive 2,618 performances.

Many audience members remarked that our production was at least as good as, if not better than a West End performance. Girls embodied their characters with ease and displayed their acting, dancing and singing talents with complete professionalism. It’s no surprise that the cast and orchestra had been tirelessly rehearsing from October last year but the reaction of the audience at each show demonstrated that their efforts were very much rewarded.

Honor MacPherson, 15, who played the mischievous and cunning Artful Dodger, has now taken part in five NHSG Musicals during her time at school and remarks that the NHSG Musical is “The highlight of my year!”. She has played three leading men in the last two years at Northern Stage (Link Larkin in Hairspray, Romeo of Romeo and Juliet for the NHSG Shakespeare Schools Festival, and most recently the infamous Dodger!). She plans to pursue a professional career within the Performing Arts Industry.

For some of the younger performers this was their first Musical experience at Senior School. Emmy Dobson (Fagin’s Gang), age 11, explains her delight at being cast in the production: “Ever since I was little I would go to the see the shows produced by the amazing girls at Senior School and aspire to be up on stage dancing and singing with them; my dreams came true! The real experience was so exciting. I loved spreading smiles over peoples’ faces.”

Many of the NHSG alumnae who enjoyed theatrical triumphs at school have gone on to tread the boards in professional theatre productions. Among their ranks are Alice Stokoe, who took the lead in the West End production of Mamma Mia in 2015; and Laila Zaidi, a graduate from the Arts Educational School who performed on BBC 1’s Shakespeare Live event, played Maria in West Side Story and is now appearing in the new series of Benidorm.

Hoping to follow in their footsteps, two recent NHSG alumnae Millie Hackett and Madeline Carter who played best friends Tracy Turnblad and Penny Pingleton in NHSG’s Hairspray last year are now studying at prestigious Drama schools. Maddie is completing a foundation course at Edinburgh’s Rose Bruford College and Millie is part of Actor Training Programme ‘Project A’ at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

We’re confident that this year’s cohort of aspiring performers will go on to achieve such success when they leave NHSG to embark on the next stage of
their educational journey. With another year to wait before the next production, its fair to say, the girls have definitely left us wanting more!

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