Benenden Performers’ Magnificent Musical

Benenden Performers’ Magnificent Musical

Actors, singers and dancers in our Upper School razzle-dazzled audiences with their exceptional rendition of Chicago, demonstrating their talent and dedication through a witty tale of crime, infamy and celebrity. Upper Fifth (Year 11) student Claudia, who played Velma in the production, and Six One (Year 12) Freya who was included among the lead ensemble, give their accounts:

Chicago was the most chaotic and amazing experience. Musical theatre was always big in my house, and suppertime would always end in half-past ten renditions of Cabaret and Mamma Mia. However, many of us hadn’t put on a musical since primary school, so it was incredibly exciting to do a show which requires a focus in multiple disciplines.

I’ve always loved acting and dancing, so the biggest challenge was overcoming my intense fear of seriously singing in front of people.

I never really thought I would be cast as Velma. I thought whoever it was that got cast, I would spend the entire show jealous of them. She is a dream role: she’s neither a singer, an actor, or a dancer – she’s a performer and everything’s an act, constantly playing to the audience (and the wig is obviously awesome).

Later, whenever I got nervous, Ena (Roxie) would keep me under control. We balance each other out; I’m a ‘panicker’ and she’s a lot more practical. It was amazing to be able to go through the sometimes-four-hour rehearsals with her, she always knew how to calm me down and make me laugh.

Five of my numbers were almost exclusively dance numbers and so singing despite being out of breath – while staying in control and adapting your breath and body language to how the character is feeling in the scene – was probably the hardest thing to learn. It was also, however, the most satisfying once achieved, especially in, I Can’t Do it Alone and When Velma Takes the Stand. Knowing you know the movements and song completely and performing them made me realise how much I love it.

The first performance everyone was nervous, and I remember frantically praying backstage, but seeing my friends in the front row kept me smiling throughout. In contrast, the last night was emotionally intense. I auditioned for this role summer of Fifth (Year 10) and now I’m about to sit my January mocks. It’s weird that something that has taken so much of your thoughts and energy is no longer there, and I already miss it.

Claudia, Upper Fifth The experience of being involved in Chicago has been such a wonderful part of this term. I have always loved to act and dance, but I have never been a strong singer. Being in Chicago as part of the core ensemble has given me the opportunity to act and dance, but also to build my confidence and love of singing again, without fear, as I was part of a team. This was also the most challenging experience as it was something I was very nervous about. I was worried about people hearing my voice, but being part of a team I ended up forgetting that I was frightened and enjoyed every second that I was able to perform.

Something that a play like Chicago shows its actors and its audience is how truly important the whole cast is. No member could do the show without the others, and that creates a real sense of company, which is an amazing thing to be a part of at School.

I felt so nervous before the first performance because being part of the core ensemble means that you are relying and working with everyone and you all need to be in sync and moving as one. Every time we did it we all became stronger and more confident as a group, which made the energy electric.

I got so much out of being part of Chicago, not just for my own self-confidence in singing, but also through the opportunity to act and dance my heart out through the whole production, as part of an amazing team. The Drama Department worked flat-out to create this production and I feel very lucky, because I loved being apart of it! Freya, Six One