Kings Theatre’s summer school is in full swing

Youngsters taking part in The Kings Theatre summer school, 2018, preparing for their production of Ali Baba and the Bongo Bandits
Youngsters taking part in The Kings Theatre summer school, 2018, preparing for their production of Ali Baba and the Bongo Bandits

Some youngsters might be taking it easy during the summer holidays.

But there are others who have been working their socks off to put together a full show in just one week, before performing it in front of a paying audience as part of the Kings Theatre’s summer school.

Tonight the seven-to-11-year-olds will be performing the musical Ali Baba and the Bongo Bandits.

But starting from Monday, it’s the older children, aged from 11 to 18, who will be put through their paces before staging Legally Blonde next Saturday.

Andrew Wright, who directed and co-produced the theatre’s 110th anniversary gala last October was invited back to lead the seniors’ summer school.

‘We started having discussions early on about the repertoire. It needed to be appealing and enjoyable and particularly well-known which is why we selected Legally Blonde - because it’s a fun, energetic and exuberant show. We knew it would be a challenge, but also a real achievement to put on and one that would go down well with the young group we have involved.

‘It’s a well-known show, not just because it’s based on the movie, but it’s gained a bit of a following in its own right as a musical.’

Andrew has produced the show before in his day job as head of musical theatre at the University of Chichester, but this is first chance to be hands on.

‘I saw the musical in the West End, and I’ve seen it on tour as well, so I feel like I know the show relatively well already.’

The cast were auditioned in early July and since then they have been left to their own devices. 

‘We’ve circulated the script and the sheet music out to the cast with a CD of all of the tracks and some guide vocals on them, so they’ve got something to rehearse to,’ says Andrew. ‘Hopefully when they turn up on the first day they will at least be familiar with the material.

‘There is a technical strand as well, so while we have about 30 students in the cast as performers, there’s also a large bank of students learning the backstage elements, lighting, sound, building some of our sets, searching for props, elements of costume. It’s a huge undertaking in a short space of time.’

With only the week to put it all together, Andrew admits it’s going to be a tough pace to keep up with.

‘If everything goes to plan, we’ve got a good schedule in place, we should be in a really good position to put on quite a special show on that Saturday evening.

‘It’s incredibly intense, the cast as well as the creative team will come away drained by the end of the week, it’s not just a nine-to-five thing, if you’re working on some scenes or choreography on one day, you have to have that all completely learned and banked for the next day, when you learn some more lyrics, another routine, develop the characters a bit more. If you’re still thinking about what you did the day before, the whole thing comes tumbling down around you.

‘It’s what I call a snowball process, you start with something very small and it grows in intensity and size the further you go through the week.

‘It’s a really exciting and engaging experience for young people, and you tend to find there’s very little time to focus on anything other than the show. It’s lovely to see young people gelling as a group in the process.

‘It comes down to the working hard and the discipline of theatre, but we want them to have fun while they’re doing it.’

ALI BABA AND THE BONGO BANDITS

Friday, August 3, 7pm

kingsportsmouth.co.uk

LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, JR

Saturday, August 11, 6pm

kingsportsmouth.co.uk