Tolworth Girls School and Southborough High School collaboration in the musical production of ‘Oliver’ is a resounding success!


Over the course of four evenings last week, many hundreds of family members, friends, students and staff of Southborough High School and Tolworth Girls School poured into the main school hall of TGS to watch a special collaborative drama production of the much loved classic musical ‘Oliver!’. It’s fair to say that the majority of the audience – having been given the ‘heads up’ on the many months of preparation and hard work that both students and staff had put into the show - were understandably routing for the actors, hoping that all would go well and, fingers crossed, they would enjoy a typically jolly and upbeat school rendition of the popular and well known musical.

As the evening unfolded, what the audience actually got to see was a magnificent display of such breath-taking talent and skill from the boys and girls that the audience were truly blown away by the production’s professionalism and all-round brilliance! A small but perfectly formed live orchestra added to its gravitas and the enthusiasm and genuine talent of every actor on stage shone out like a beacon. After each show, audience members invariably left bursting with pride.

As anyone who has been involved with a drama production in the past will know, the path to putting a show together rarely runs smoothly and when, over Christmas – and after several months of rehearsals - the Southborough student due to play the part of Oliver (a lead part also shared with Tolworth student Kitty Green), found that his voice had broken and could no longer play the part! Much to everyone’s relief, budding actor and Year 8 Southborough student Jack Bartlett had just completed his stint in Alice In Wonderland at the Rose theatre and so was able to step into the lead role at short notice.

The Griffin Reporter caught up with a number of Southborough students who either played a part in the successful production, whether on or off stage to hear about their experiences first hand.

Jack Bartlett, who stepped into Oliver’s shoes last minute, commented: ‘Taking part in this collaborative production with Tolworth Girls School was no less professional than my experience working at the Rose theatre. It was certainly hard work and I had to learn the part of Oliver in a matter of a few weeks but I think that together we delivered a high quality production. It was just as enjoyable, too.’ Liam Grubb, who played the part of Mr Bumble, commented that being a good friend of his co-star who played Widow Corney, Roselle Kissi-Rumble, helped harness the  ever changing  - and very funny to watch - chemistry between the two characters. His most memorable moment, he said, was hearing the collective gasps from many in the audience when he delivered the line ‘it’s a woman’s place to obey!’. Teddy Kitch, who shared the role of Fagin with Tolworth student Angelica Gayle, explained that he studied the 1960’s film version of Oliver for inspiration. He said that the two worked together to build his character traits through things like body language, posture and mannerisms. Both Liam and Teddy, who are currently in Year 10, are studying Drama at GCSE and both aspire to go to The Brit School to study acting in the future.

Southborough Year 9 students Erdogan Aker and Elliot Shepherd were both Head of Crew and they explained how much fun the roles were, although it proved rather stressful at times. ‘We had to ensure that everything went as planned during blackout periods and sometimes we had to be quite bossy, telling the actors behind the scenes to focus and be ready to go on stage!’ said Elliott. ‘But we have to agree, it was the female actors who seemed to follow our stage instructions the best!’ added Erdogan.

Year 8 students Dan Nott, Tyler Bowyer and Kirshanth Kuguathas  were all part of the team who produced the amazing stage scenery. ‘We were given a picture to inspire us and we worked from there. We got support from our teachers but we were also allowed to experiment and add our own ideas to the set.’ said Dan.

One of the things which perhaps made the production extra special was the fact that it had a live orchestra. Many in the audience expected a backing track and were blown away by the skill of the amazing musicians, which comprised of a number of staff who are also talented musicians, including our very own Miss Watkins, Ms Lee-Potter and also Miss Panfilova. Year 11 Southborough student Reuben Sinclair played both the trumpet and trombone and really stole the musical side of the production. ‘It’s no mean feat playing continuously for two and a half hours. As the only trumpet player in a very small orchestra, there’s nowhere to hide!’ Reuben commented. The audience were extremely impressed!

Much credit must be given to the Director of the show, Mrs Helen Wilson, Head of Drama at Tolworth Girls School, and Miss Chloe Parsons, Co-Director and Drama Teacher at Southborough. Both worked tirelessly for many months, bringing out the very best in every student who took part. Their dedication and commitment to the collaboration paid off handsomely in the delivery of a musical production that, quite frankly, wouldn’t have looked out of place in the West End.

Many more students and staff played their part in making the show such a success and special thanks must go to each and every one of them, including those in the cast, working behind the scenes, lighting and sound, front of house  - and more. Thank you also to Ms Loft and F.O.S.H (Friends of Southborough) who raised nearly £1000 selling refreshments.

If there’s one thing that was clear from this creative collaboration, it was that the students from both schools worked brilliantly together, bringing out the best in each other. Final thanks must go to Mrs Siobhan Lowe and Mr Niall Smith for supporting the collaboration of Tolworth Girls School and Sixth Form and Southborough High School. Suffice to say, we look forward to many more productions. Look out for the next musical in 2019!

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