Shropshire school battles through more than a year of lockdowns to stage musical

A Shropshire school has battled through more than a year of lockdowns and disruptions to stage a run of live performances of the legendary musical Sound of Music.

 Wrekin College staged a run of live performances of the musical Sound of Music
Wrekin College staged a run of live performances of the musical Sound of Music

Students at Wrekin College maintained their hectic schedule of rehearsals throughout, often rehearsing online, to ensure they were always ready as they waited for an opportunity to get audiences in safely during the pandemic.

The search for the stars of the show started in the spring of 2020 during the first lockdown with students sending in recorded auditions in a bid to win a part.

So many pupils auditioned that in the end, the show ran with two casts, each performing for two of the four nights.

Now, two more lockdowns later and after numerous changes to restrictions, the cast celebrated a run of four shows before the end of term, performed to socially distanced audiences of family and friends.

Director of music Simon Platford said: “The famous saying is ‘The show must go on' and I don’t know how any group of young people could display the sentiments behind that saying more emphatically than this young cast, crew, and musicians have done.

“We had initially hoped to stage this show last Christmas but as the second and third lockdowns were put in place it proved impossible to even consider it.”

Howard Brown, the show's director, said the performers had really deserved full houses and hopes were high that would happen when Boris Johnson planned for all restrictions to be lifted on June 21.

When that was delayed until July 19 the school faced a race against time to ensure some kind of live performance could go ahead.

The music and drama departments worked overtime to limit the audience and re-allocate seating to ensure it was Covid-safe.

“After a year of tremendously hard work both casts deserved their moment," Mr Brown said.

"Our license meant filming it to show parents was not possible and with our upper sixth form students leaving us, the last few days of June and the start of July really was the last chance for them all to share what a superb production they had created together.

"We also had the small matter of 180 costumes that our brilliant costumier, Janine Kotas had either sourced or made, never mind the set, props, and all the other facets that come together to make a production happen."

Mr Brown said the performances had been extremely emotional with standing ovations received every night.

He added: “I think everyone felt the connection of how difficult it has been over the last year but also how much we have missed live theatre. It is important that we look to do everything we can as schools to get youngsters performing again.

"It makes such a difference to them in terms of wellbeing, confidence, and working together.”

The socially distanced audiences at each performance wore masks throughout and all had to produce a negative lateral flow test before they were admitted.

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