28 Nov 2013

Pupils from Newcastle Church High School received a standing ovation from the audience as they opened up performances of the classic Sweet Charity at the Royal Grammar School theatre recently.

Described by members of the audience as Church High’s “brilliant final musical performance”, the girls, aged between 14 and 18, wowed the crowds during two evening performances of Sweet Charity.

The show tells the bittersweet tale of a dance hall hostess, played by 16-year-old Laura Fulgenzi, who took on her first lead role this year as main character, Charity. Laura said: “I was so very nervous before the first show. I had been ill all week and I was praying that my voice would hold out, that the dance routines would all go to plan and that I’d remember all my words.

“Despite the many challenges, playing Charity has been the most incredible experience and I was thrilled to have been given this amazing opportunity. One of the best things has been the camaraderie with the other cast members – it’s been a real team effort!”

Tamar Dutton, aged 17 and Meridan Reader, 17, played Charity’s best friends, Nickie and Helene. Tamar said: “We worked really hard on creating a believable friendship between the three main female characters, rehearsing outside of the main rehearsal schedule to get it just right. I hope audiences could see the caring connection between the three of them. The dance routines were really challenging, but after lots and lots of rehearsals, they looked amazing.”

Ruchelle Everton, Head of Performing Arts at Church High School, directed the musical. She said: “I’m so proud of the girls – they have managed to pull off a truly incredible show once again! After each performance, members of the audience would come up to me to say this has been the best show ever and after all the effort it’s such a rewarding thing to hear.

“Pulling everything together, from complicated dance routines, choreographed by our fantastic dance teacher Mrs Cowan, to acting, singing and quick costume changes, has been a huge challenge – one which the girls have risen to superbly.”

With pupils from Newcastle School for Boys helping out this year both onstage and off, Christopher Houghton-Coldwell, 17, who played Charity’s love interest, Oscar, said: “I was happy but nervous at the same time when I found out I was playing Oscar. I’ve been in musicals before, but not ones with quite so many dance routines! I really appreciated all the hard work that our teachers put in to making the show such a success.”

Rhys Asker, and Will Sensicle, both aged 17, both worked backstage on the show. Rhys, though usually in the limelight, decided to enhance his theatrical training by working backstage. “I didn’t realise how demanding and challenging being backstage was”, he said.

“There was an incredible amount of hard work that went in to preparing the lighting and sound for the show and I was nervous about getting the timing of the lights just right as I knew everyone was relying on me. It was a very different experience, but just as rewarding as being on stage.”

As one of the youngest members of the cast, Jordan Beat, 14, said: “It was lots of fun and I’ve enjoyed every moment of the production. Because the cast was quite small, we all took on other roles within the play and all the quick changes took a bit of getting used to! I’ve always loved dancing and the dance routines in the show have been brilliant.”


Picture: Pupils from Newcastle Church High School in their latest production, Sweet Charity