Students ‘Rock’ audiences with their spectacular show

Posted: 15th July 2023

Boy playing the guitar

By Miss Baynham-Williams
Director of Performing Arts

Thunderbolts and lightening very, very frightening!!!

This year’s whole academy production well and truly ROCKED as over 120 cast and crew students pulled together to present Ben Elton’s ‘We Will Rock You’ to a completely sold out auditorium night after night.

This year was a remarkably special production for us as an academy as it was our last one under the outstanding leadership of our retiring Principal Mr McNiffe. As a testament and tribute to the outpouring of love and support that he has shown the Performing Arts, our students felt it was only right to dedicate this last one to him in his honour.

Our stage was transformed into the Hard Rock Cafe and UV dungeon of the ‘Killer Queen’s Headquarters’ as we took audiences one hundred years in the future to a land controlled by social media, cyborgs and Gaga Girls. The audiences loved the ‘get down and funky’ Bohemians led by the extraordinary Taidgh as Britney Spears. Our two leads this year were our academy returning favourite Shannon as the feisty and ferocious Scaramouche but, this year we saw A Level student Tom W morph into the spotlight taking on his first leading role as Galileo. Turning more and more into the light-footed and devil dancing Freddie Mercury as the show went on, Tom placed on the infamous yellow buckled leather jacket and grabbed the microphone holding his rock and roll hand in the air surrounded by a hundred academy students holding up a red flag reading ‘We are the Champions’ and it was a ‘wow’ factor moment indeed.

The crowd went wild for seriously sassy Killer Queen Sara and loved her show stealing sidekick Khashoggi that was played by the effervescent Maddox. This year we saw a lot of new faces brave the auditions and take on the Performing Arts legacy in leading roles. Luana as Aretha Franklin, Ruby as Janice Joplin, Ocean as Ozzy Osbourne and Margaret as the headteacher.

A special shout-out has to go to the man that had audiences roaring with tears of laughter streaming down their face and that was Charlie as Buddy Holly. ‘Somebody get me a bat, I wanna bite his head off!!!’ He bellowed as he got on the world famous Harley Davidson and raced himself to his best production yet. (I think it was the long blonde hair personally…)

The production was a huge success this year and one that showed great team work and a close knit family from all of the students involved. Well done to each and every one of the students that took part both on stage and behind the scenes whether it was backstage management, prop making or many of the other vitally important roles.

This is one of the West End classics that I’ve wanted to direct for years. It’s a real crowd pleaser and gets the audience involved as they and the cast reminisce over the beautiful music of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Freddie has a very special place in my heart so I was naturally moved throughout a lot of this creative process. I want to thank the academy students for making this classic so enjoyable and so special. I do believe this show is one that the community of Cheltenham won’t be forgetting in a long time and that it was the perfect tribute for Mr McNiffe. That is down to the admiration and passion the cast show one another and the love of learning they have for the Performing Arts. Bring on the next one!

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