The audience at last week’s Woodroffe School staff-student Cabaret enjoyed a feast of class acts, delivered with the show’s customary verve and accomplishment. The vibrant conga-led rhythms of the Jazz Band under Mr Cullimore in their opening number contrasted with rich harmonies, and subtle dynamics from the saxes and clarinets, in a well-judged accompaniment to singer Ellie Kirtley’s lovely tone which set the model for the evening.  Lovely vocal duets from Juliette Hughes and Pippa Mostyn, and Lucy Ratcliff and Grace Tate showed carefully worked-out harmonisation. These and Annabel Davies in her impressive solo, showed such confidence for singers so young, in demanding repertoire, beautifully delivered.  The versatility and stage-presence of Anthony Duncan – both singing and dancing – and the vivacious Katie Pike, her choreography so clever and wittily delivered, really engaged the audience. The timing from the two comedy acts was perfect, Lizzie Delaney-Ellwood and Rowie Tyte performing with gusto, and the deadpan delivery of Roisin Linnett, Harvey Causley, Ellie Kirtley, Leon Parkin and George Hunt, in their so-clever minimalist take on Cinderella, left the audience in stiches (and George in the first spectacular gown of the evening!). Watch out for Matilda Lloyd in future West-End credits after her costuming the Ballroom Dance team - inspired by Miss Moses - so stylishly and appropriately for their dazzling Charleston – a brilliant finale to the first half. The interval Cabaret Cocktails, efficiently and stylishly served, had been flagged up by a Josh Yelland warming to his role of stooge to Mr Brown’s MC and increasingly supplanting him!

In their opening to the second half, one could imagine the nicely balanced solos of the jazz trio of Jake Causley, Harry Eastwood and Harvey Causley drawing applause in some late-night jazz club. A notable feature throughout the evening was the subtlety of the instrumental-vocal mix, Ellie Kirtley accompanying her lovely voice on keyboards supported by Harvey Causley’s so well-judged drums, Milly Pearce’s guitar-picking carefully enhancing Phoebe Townsend’s warm tones and accomplished keyboard playing, and mentor Harry Robson’s unobtrusive accompaniment for Lucy and Grace.  Audience who’ve supported this event annually can hear the musical maturity developing in these young performers, as was evident in Hester Heeler-Frood’s unaffected and gentle solo and the haunting partnering of Toby Willis and James Dean, and Cleo Nester and Ciaran Badman – these Upper Sixth-formers delivering moving performances at the highest level. The close-to-rite-of-passage Sixth-form dance, with some clever choreography from Fran Hall and Rachael Clarke, had huge verve, humour, and an incredibly eclectic set of costumes which ranged from a cavalcade of animal onesies, to wet-suits, to the other spectacular dress of the evening. Chris Boxall has a lot of nerve! This finale brought the house down!

To achieve a show of such technical complexity in its set-ups is a huge accolade to the technical crew led by Miles Ford and Henry Cornish and the support on sound of Mr Cullimore and on lighting of Nic Wootton. Each year students are applying the skills learnt in their A-level Music Tech course, their classroom Music courses at all levels, their individual instrumental and vocal lessons, and long hours practising at home, gaining vastly in experience and confidence.

Each year Producer Miss Elliott builds a team of student mentors – this year Lower Sixth-formers Henry Cornish, Miles Ford and Harry Robson whose musical accomplishments were clear in the Reggae-style jamming session with which they and Miss Elliott delighted the audience on the first night of the show. These together have auditioned 86 acts applying to be in this year’s show (demand is always high, as it is for tickets) and worked with them, honing the performances over three months. It was great to see four former mentors at the last night of the show, three of whom are currently studying for degree courses in performance or in live event technology, who had travelled from as far away as Cardiff and Birmingham to be there (and there were other audience members who had come from the North Cotswolds and from Stafford!). Over the years the Cabaret has raised a huge amount for performance equipment for the school and for 35 different charities. The inspiration over the generations, the role-modelling feeding the performance aspirations of younger students, is clear. Miss Elliott’s vision, and her and everyone’s commitment and sheer hard work, vastly pays off for Woodroffe, its students, its community, and the delighted audiences.



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