Woodhouse College
Alica Derome Rebecca Saul

Musical Showcase producers win Jack Petchey Acheivement Award

Dated: 1 June 2018

Three of our upper sixth students, Elena, Emine and Tabasum (above, originally from Henrietta Barnet, Walthamstow and Copthall schools respectively) have been awarded the Jack Petchey Achievement Award for organizing and running the Woodhouse Musical Theatre Society as an extra-curricular activity for our lower sixth students.
This involved giving their time every Wednesday afternoon for over two terms, and other days after school. They rehearsed the students, choreographed the dancing and organised an evening musical showcase event in April.
We caught up with the talented, tuneful trio this week…
Tabasum – “We really enjoyed being part of the Woodhouse Musical Theatre Society last year (working with the amazing Ronnie Ah-Chuen). It was the highlight of our week and everyone got together at the end of the year, it was a fun time… so we decided to continue with it this year.
Emine – “We’re all kind of musical theatre nerds anyway, so knowing that it was possible to put on a show we were like - OK, yeah we want to do that again next year.”
Elena – “I think being part of MTS last year helped us make friends in college, because it was at the start of the year so if you didn’t have a friendship group already, you now had these bunch of people you could talk to and go and see around college.”
Tabasum – “This year, we started with around 30 people, but ended with 13 of us. It’s quite a time commitment so quite a few had to drop out but we ended up with the dedicated ones and they helped us put on a really good show.”
Emine – “Last year, it was more of a hodge-podge of different songs from different musicals - and it was a bit like that this year too - but we wanted to put on at least part of a show… So we performed near enough the whole first act of the musical ‘Heathers’ which we all love. Then we did some excerpts from ‘Hamilton’ - a few of the songs in chronological order telling the story. And we finished with a bunch of solo numbers from shows like 'Rent'.
Tabasum – “Emine did a large amount of the choreography and directing, she has experience dancing so she’s good with that…”
Emine – “And Tabasum was the no nonsense, get people where they need to be, arranging the props type person – the stage manager!”
Tabasum – “We all have a background in acting on some level – we all did GCSE drama…”
Elena – “And I’ve been a member of the National Youth Theatre since I was about 14. Although I think of drama as more of a hobby for me, not something I’m planning to do as a career. I’ve applied to study medicine, but hopefully I’ll continue acting at uni.”
Tabasum – “I’ve applied to study social anthropology… which I guess is a very niche course, but it something that I’m really interested in, so I’m going to go for it.”
Emine – “I’ve applied for biology and then plan to specialise in something like genetics or micro-biology…”
Tabasum – “We’ll all definitely join the student musical theatre societies at uni. It’s a hobby for all us, which is why it was great that we had the chance to put this on and continue it as a hobby rather thinking it was something that we couldn’t do anymore…”
Elena – “When we performed the showcase, some of the team from last year came back to see us, which was really great.”
Emine – “Yes, around sixty friends, family and teachers came too. Last years’ upper sixth coming was especially great because it was like three generations of Woodhouse Musical Theatre Society in the same room, which was pretty cool.”
Elena – “’And the lower sixth students have said that they definitely want to continue with MTS next year, so we are going to come back and watch them!”
Tabasum – “We have to give shout outs to our cast - everyone was great within their characters…
Isabel, who played the main role of Veronica in Heathers, is an amazing singer. It’s a hard part to play in terms of needing to be such a strong singer and being on stage all of the time, and she coped with that so well.
Amalia, who played Anjelica, was amazing… In the solos section, she hit the high note in 'Seasons of Love', which I will never get over - it was really good, that’s a really hard note to hit and we only asked her to do it on the day.
Tilda, who played Heather Chandler, only stepped into that role two or three weeks before the show because someone dropped out, and she learnt all the choreography, the lines, the singing… all in a couple of weeks… so that was amazing.
Lara and Viljo, who are two of the lower sixth students who are probably going to take MTS over next year were very dedicated. And Viljo did the lighting - he had like 24 hours to learn how to do that …”
Emine – "And thanks to Sean, our other male singer, who made a great ‘JD’ - he was so good. He was a little uncomfortable at first rehearsal but by the end he could have been on Broadway. Absolutely everyone did so well, and we love them all.”
Elena – “Running up to the performance we did an hour-long rehearsal every single day, which is difficult getting near exam time, so we really appreciate everyone for sticking around and putting in the work…”
Elena – “We created an atmosphere where people weren’t afraid to let themselves go and wanted to make sure that people felt comfortable, because that something that Ronnie did for us last year.”
Emine – “Yes, last year they made sure that everyone has something, a line in a song or whatever, and they made us all feel like we were good enough and could do it. So we’ve passed that on.”
Tabasum – “Our cast this year were really sweet and surprised us with flowers at the end of the showcase, which we didn’t expect, and gave a little speech, I was on the verge of tears. It’s nice to think that we were able to do this for them - and for ourselves.”
Recipients of the Jack Petchey Achievement Award receive £250 each to spend at their school.
Tabasum – “We are really honoured to get the award because we didn’t expect it all…”
Emine – “Mr. Rubinstein kind of ambushed us with it. We went to his office to talk about how we could help facilitate next years’ group and make the process easier and then at the end of that meeting he just said - Oh I’ve nominated you three for a Jack Petchey Award, and it was a surprise, a really nice one.”
Elena – “Two of us are putting our money together to get some new lighting equipment and microphones for next years’ MTS to continue the legacy and put on more shows. And we are using the rest of money to take the cast out to see ‘Chicago’ in the West End. Woodhouse helped a bit with that money, so many thanks to them too."
Principal John Rubinstein said “The girls are thoroughly deserving winners, they really went all out to make the showcase happen and put so much effort into offering this extracurricular option to the lower sixth students. I was at the final performance and was absolutely blown away by the quality of singing and acting – it was one of the most accomplished and most successful student events for many years. Hopefully the Musical Theatre Society (which is entirely organised and run by students) is now a permanently part of the Woodhouse fabric and we can look forward to similar shows every year.”
You can see lots more photos from the production in our Flickr Album here. Many thanks to alumnae Edain for the great shots. 

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