Over recent years, Ashfield School has grown quite a reputation for producing professional-standard, sell-out shows, with the Music and Drama departments working extremely hard together, but this year they exceeded all expectations with their stunning performances of the West End classic Les Miserables.
Tickets sold out in a record 24 hours, and audiences were clearly not disappointed. They left the school’s theatre after each performance raving about the professionalism of the performances, the breath-taking talent of the students, the dedication of the staff, and most compared it very favourably to professional productions they had seen. One lady said that she had seen the show performed professionally twelve or thirteen times and really felt that Ashfield’s production was as good, ‘if not better’, than each of those other productions. Quite an achievement considering the cast of more than fifty students, consisting of students from all year groups, only started rehearsals in September!
Taking the daunting lead role of Jean Valjean was Year 12 student Brock Warren, and he certainly made the role his own! With the help of some very hard working staff members, Brock developed his singing voice and showed total dedication and commitment to rehearsals. This, along with an obvious natural talent, enabled him to produce utterly outstanding performances every single night and become a brilliant leading man!
Mention must also go to the hilarious double act of the Thenardiers, played beautifully by Brandon Cantrill and Sophie Burton Carpenter. With impressive comic timing, their performances were quite something to behold!
Our lead female roles were split cast this year, as we had so many strong and talented girls who auditioned. The role of Eponine was expertly played by Allana Taylor and Demi Mitchell, and that of Cosette was played by Betsy-Jo Warren and Lucy Hart, both of whom managed to capture her natural innocence. The role of Fantine was shared between Ellie Greatorex and Millie Hardy, who both played her with real passion.
A particular mention should go to Joe Maltby, who has performed in all of the last seven shows! He’s the only student to have managed this, so we thank him for his commitment and wish him all the best as he leaves Ashfield in July.
Finally, mention must go to all of those behind the scenes without whom the show really could not go on: Mat Douglas, Dan White, Carol Boulton, Izzy Hopkins and Sue Cooper. Year 11 student Owen Else designed programmes, helped with the lighting, and generally supported the production in numerous other ways. Musical Director, Tom Atkins, worked tirelessly throughout the show to ensure that the music was nothing less than spectacular. Bryan Sluman, who directed, supported and inspired students to produce performances that West End professionals would have been proud of. The result? An emotional, hilarious, heart-wrenching, rousing triumph!