Production Wrap Up
From Fiona Martin, Director:
Peter Pan was a wonderful event, which showcased our talented students from both the junior and senior schools. It is an amazing and vibrant community we have here at Preshil.
Many fantastic memories will be taken into our futures and I’ll fondly recall the laughs and the fun times as well as the very hard work done by everyone involved. I’ll especially remember witnessing the profound learning that took place for the cast members. I solidly believe that theatrical process is just as important as the final product and the educational benefits of being in such an involved and complex production are many; this learning has not gone unnoticed by parents, staff and myself.
I must say again how very proud I am of the young cast whose spirit, enthusiasm and energy reached into every moment and nook and cranny of Peter Pan, imbuing it with (what a number of parents described as) ‘magic’. Peter Pan was described as quintessentially “Preshilian” by a number of audience members. I’d like to add that the production was absolutely Prehsilian; it demonstrated innovative and cutting edge, age appropriate theatrical practice, artistry, technology, pedagogy and composition.
Students and I had the pleasure of working with some amazing educators, artists and parents. Rodney Waterman, along with his music students, worked tirelessly, composed some truly lovely music, which was inspired by the story of Peter Pan, its connection with the Preshil philosophy and our collective vision for the play. It was a treat to observe the students proudly hearing their compositions being played and sung by the orchestra and cast. We were all humming and whistling the tunes throughout the rehearsal process.
Helen Kerr-Lawley as Assistant Director was generous with her time, committed and lent her extensive knowledge of performance and music to the production, offering her ideas and expertise to the singers and to the ensemble as a whole. Charlotte Jowett, along with the core characters, created beautiful puppets to enhance and bring whimsy to our production and she lent her wonderful story telling voice to the play. Nick Compton came on board as a pirate and his energy and willingness to jump in, made him a great model for the students; he was a wonderful addition to Peter Pan.
Rebecca Halfpenny’s costumes added the wow factor and it is a testament to the quality and popularity of her costumes when, during fittings, the cast didn’t want to take them off.
Adam Siddaway’s backdrops were luminous and the Wendy House and toy chest made by Cate Leslie were just right. I’d like to thank other staff, parents and my own family who devoted their time and energy, working toward the wonderful performance that took place. Students are already enthusiastically discussing our next production and many interesting ideas are being tabled.
Thanks for your help: Judy, Jan (for the constant help with emails and parent contacts), Marcus Halfpenny, Sabino Dal Balso, Ryn Wheelan, Kay Hann, Spiros Sideras, John Collins, David Cobb, Jenny Henderson, Cressida Batterham-Wilson, Victor Toufas, Bronte Howell, Lisa Lloyd, Lisa Wilson, Diane Caldwell, Cathy Narayan and Trish Rogers.
From Helen Kerr-Lawley, Assistant Director & Pirate (Aaaaargh!):
Preshil’s production of Peter Pan performed to delighted audiences for four shows over three days at The Oratory, Abbotsford Convent in mid-October. The show was a feast of fine acting, magical atmospherics, divine music, superb costumes and ethereal puppetry – all created over months of intense rehearsals, composing, set designing, puppet-making and meetings in order to bring the show to fruition.
Bouquets to Fiona and Rod for making it such an amazing experience! Their vision of taking a traditional stage play by JM Barrie to an in-the-round performance worked a treat.
At the end of the first act the children were transformed into puppets, made by the students themselves under the guidance of professional puppeteer, Charlotte Jowett, and travelled to Neverland for all sorts of adventures accompanied by original music by Rod and his talented music students. This occurred in a large, somewhat dilapidated hall, in which the action took place at opposite ends of the venue, which meant that the audience was asked to turn seats in the middle of the production – what an innovation!
Fiona adapted the play to highlight the talents of the students and several students even took on multiple roles. There was beautiful singing and lively dancing at strategic points in the performance too – which gave the audience time to reflect on the narrative and to just soak up the enchanting atmosphere. The comedic aspects of the story were also brought out and enjoyed by the audience with huge guffaws at the antics of the overly exuberant pirates.
The cast and crew of the production involved students from the 10/11s at Arlington right through to Year 12, who took time out of their end of year studies to play the music for each performance.
The show was highly ambitious, from the very outset; occasionally we wondered if it would all come together as hoped, but the end result was nothing less than a triumph! Well done to all who participated or helped in any way and huge thanks to Fiona and Rodney, especially!
From Rod Waterman, Musical Director:
“What a lovely way to end my many years of music performance experiences at Preshil!” These were Year 12 student Riley Turner’s words shortly after the fourth and final performance of Preshil’s theatre musical, Peter Pan. Riley not only contributed to the production as a performer, conductor and composer, but also took on an important co-directorial role.
Likewise, all of the VCE students, Zoe Verrocchi (violin), Emily Wilson (cello) and Ben Hiscock (glockenspiel, ukulele, keyboard) made an extraordinary input to the production, given the demands of their exam preparations and looming deadlines for SACs during that period. The remaining member of our stage band was Year 7 student Chiara Williams who calmly and aptly handled all sorts of eclectic musical tasks such as drumming, wave sounds, Tinker Bell chimes, crocodile ticking, sword fights and ringing the Federation Bells.
It was so rewarding to see the cast adapt to and grow with the songs and incidental music over time. Highlights for me include the Darlings’ operatic Cowardy Custard nonsense song, Mrs Darling’s haunting Night Lights lullaby, the squeaky toy rhythm introducing the cheeky Lost Boys song, the beauty of the toy grand piano in the opening and closing scenes, the rustic ‘yo ho-ing’ of the pirates, the tuneful whistling of the Woodland House song, the poignant solo rendition of Pan’s To Die and final To Live whole cast chorus. Who can forget the flying puppet scene, the Tiger Lily dance and the gorgeous Mermaid procession?
The quality of musical improvisations from the band was inspired. It was such a joy working with so many talented students to produce beautiful and completely original music for a wonderful production. Congratulations to all involved – the hard work was worth it!
You can read our other production posts here.