Bronze Arts Award: 'Be the audience'
For part of the Bronze Arts Award, students have to review an Arts event they have seen. This could be anything! Our students have reviewed a range of things, many from theatre productions in and out of school. What follows is a selection of their thoughts about what they saw!
Written by E-R Prince
I went to see Les Miserables at the London Theatre on the 30Th January for a birthday present from my mum. I went with my younger sister Lily-Ann and my mum. We took the train to London and then went on a rickshaw on the way back. We stayed in a hotel for a night after the theatre.
The stage was really well created especially at the beginning because it was really engaging as the actors were hanging off the stage into the audience, and as we were at the front I could (if I wanted) touch one of them. For every section of the musical the set designers managed to make it different so the audience didn’t get bored of the stage. However they kept it simple so it wasn’t difficult for them to change but I still loved it. The ending when all the props were built up like a mountain in the middle of the stage and the actors were hanging off it.
All of the costumes suited the actors and their roles perfectly. They all suited the era the play was set, so they were old fashioned. The factory worker wore a plain white dress and brown throw to wrap around their shoulders, whereas the prostitutes wore a short lacy dress to contrast with the factory workers. My favourite item of the costumes were the rosettes worn by the young men during the French revolution. They were red, white and blue to symbolise the colours on the French flag. The rosettes were my favourite because (although they were small) they helped you to identify the different sides during the French revolution.
Everyone’s vocals were amazing, I wouldn’t be able to find a fault! They were all unique in their own way such as Jean Valjeans which was deep and powerful and Cosettes which was light and airy. The contrast added to the actors’ identities and feelings, obviously a child’s voice would be different to an adults but they were both amazing. Some of the songs would have been really hard to sing however the actors didn’t seem to have a problem with that. To add to the vocals and overall feeling of the play was the facial expressions which helped to make the song come alive. The only actor who I thought had a few problems with the facial expressions was the older Cosette as she seemed to smile when she was supposed to be sad. I know they are supposed to over emphasise their facial expressions for people at the back but she seemed to overdo it a bit.
I was lucky enough to be close to the front of the stage so I was able to see the orchestra. My eyes were continually drawn to the conductor who was waving his arms around like a maniac keeping the orchestra in time with each other. You could really pick out the different instruments such as the drums, violins, guitars, trumpets, keyboard, saxophones, cello and many more. Not all of the instruments were used for each song which I think was a good idea as you probably wouldn’t have an electric guitar during Castle on a Cloud, as the song is sung by a young girl with a high pitched sweet voice and an electric guitar is too much of rock and roll. A really good thing I noticed during the performance was that they had a screen on the second balcony showing the conductor so the actors didn’t have to look down to keep in time with the rest of the orchestra.
The lighting suited the stage at different intervals such as during the time that Eponine was outside the lighting was dark and one light followed Eponine during her solo so you could still see her. However during the tavern scene it was lit with candles and an orange glow to give it a homely feel. The lighting is important because without it you wouldn’t be able to see the actors nor would you be able to understand the setting of the scene.
My overall favourite moment was during the pub song (Master of the house) as it was funny and the actors were really energetic. The costumes and makeup helped you to picture each character differently because the main characters costumes were less exaggerated then the extras. The makeup was terrible to make them look poor and drunk. The play was amazing and I’d definitely go again and that’s why I’ll be going with the school.
Hillsong Easter service
“Our mission is to reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centred, Bible-based church, changing mind-sets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.”
My family, the Moss’ and I travelled to London on April 16th to attend a church service run by Hillsong. It was around two hours' long and it included singing, dancing and drama. I really enjoyed it and would love to go again next year.
The stage was amazing. It was constantly changed to suit was happening at each point, whether that was the songs, the drama, or the prayers. When we entered the theatre we could see people with instruments standing on different levels, in front of a large screen with the words of the song they were playing so we could also sing along. I enjoyed the fact that they were all spread out and higher than each other because we could then see everyone. For the drama piece they had a large cross wheeled onto the stage, and steps either side both made out of wood. These parts of the staging added to the atmosphere and overall effect of the drama, as it gave you an image of something everyone recognised. When it came to the end of the overall performance the stage was left bare which I thought was very clever because there then wasn’t any distractions and everyone listened to the pastor.
The costumes only came up for the drama because for the music at the start they wore shirts and trousers/ whatever they wanted to. However for the drama they had soldiers, disciples, Jesus and the chorus. The disciples, Jesus and the chorus started off with wearing mostly the same thing, black jeans, fur coat and skin coloured tops whereas the soldiers were dressed very differently so you could differentiate who was who. As the play moved on it became very dark and sombre. There was one song where the chorus were dressed in rags and had chains tied to them, they continually dragged them and hit them on the floor. At the end Jesus was also dressed in rags and put on the cross. The costumes overall added to help the audience understand who was who and what was happening.
The vocals were outstanding! The band all blended together and created an amazing sound. I loved the fact that the audience was able to join in giving the audience the feeling of being involved. The drama also involved singing, the songs during this were very powerful and heartfelt. The songs started off being very joyful but as it moved on they became darker and darker some were even scary! All of the music overall was my favourite part of the service.
The lighting suited the stage at different intervals such as during the time the band was onstage it was mostly blue and white lights being used which was different to the drama. They mostly used yellow, red and black lights. The lighting is very important as it helps the audience understand the overall feeling of each section of the performance. The lighting is also important because without it you wouldn’t be able to see the actors nor would you be able to understand the setting of the scene.
Overall the service was amazing and very inspirational. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone! I’m definitely going to go again next year and the year after that, I may even start attending the services that happen monthly. The stage added to the atmosphere of each sections of the service, the costumes were very unique and interesting, and the vocals as I’ve already said were outstanding!
Written by F Keppel-Compton
“I went to see Amy Macdonald sing live in Bournemouth last Easter. I was very excited since she is one of my favourite artists. She sings folk rock songs which are quite catchy and I really like. It was one of the shows from her tour for the new album 'Under Stars'. It was interesting to see people of many different age groups there since current music is often more popular for the younger generation. Newton Faulkner was also there as the support act. I had never heard of him but he was very good and extremely skilled at playing the guitar. He sang songs of a similar style to Amy Macdonald's. Amy Macdonald herself was very good in concert since most of the songs sounded just as good as the recordings and she was very good with the audience. By the end, everyone was on their feet and it became very lively. Not only did she sing from the album but she also sang some of my favourites from her first album 'This is the Life' such as 'Poison Prince' and 'This is the Life'. I would absolutely recommend going to see Amy Macdonald in concert since her music is accessible to all and the atmosphere was great since everyone was having a really good time.“
Hairspray – Written by R Grice, Year 8
At the weekend, I visited a show called 'Hairspray,' at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. It was an amazing show which I really enjoyed visiting! my favourite character was 'Motomouth Maybelle,' who is a sassy dj from the 'corny collins' show. She is hosting the and coming 'Negro Day,' on the show. The show had amazing costumes - I especially loved the one which 'Amber,' has her dance in the final and was wearing a pink dress covered in sequins. The music was great. The show was filled with upbeat jazzy music set for the 1960’s. I thought that Tracy mother had an amazing voice – well for the character he was playing; as Tracy’s mother was played by a man. He had a really good voice and he really got into his character in the songs.
Mamma Mia! – Written by I Lewis, Year 7
"In Year 7 I went to the show Mamma Mia in London. It is a production that the school took me to. It was in the Novello theatre. It was magical and I loved every part of it. The theatre looked so magnificent. The actors were all amazing and experience was great. I would defiantly go again.
It was a musical theatre production that was all well prepared and the actors were all very talented.
My favourite part was the three mums' performance. It was very funny and impressive at the same time. I would recommend this to anyone who loves comical musicals. I would also recommend this to anyone who have never watched Mamma Mia as the plot is easy to understand and exciting. "
Annie - Written by A Jones, Year 8
“I thought that Annie was a spectacular show which everyone, who has a chance to, should go and see Annie! I especially thought that the young girl who played Annie while we were there was very talented and impressive. I don't think that I disliked any part of it. I think that to be involved in such a big performance, you would have to be very talented at drama.”
Annie - Written by S Mardani, Year 8
“On the 17th September, I went to go and see Annie, in Camberley. I was really excited as Craig Revel Horwood was playing the character of Miss Hannigan. He got asked by the producer of the play, to play the part of Miss Hannagan, as it will encourage people to come and watch the show.
We travelled there by coach, I sat next to my friend Lottie. We both brought lots of sweets and chocolates, as we were really thrilled to see Annie. When we arrived we grabbed our tickets. Once we given are tickets we bought a booklet which had information about The play, Annie.
Afterwards we had to find are seats; we were at the back. Once we found are seats the curtains opened and the play began. As soon as Miss Hannigan entered the stage we all applauded, as she looked really funny dressed as a woman. She had bright red lipstick, Blue eye shadow and a long dress with flowers on them, which where green.
When I saw the play, I thought that the person who played Annie was a great role model to the other actors and actresses, as she was very confident and positive.
After we saw the show, my friend Lottie thought that “the show was very exhilarating and entertaining as well, I thought that it was very much like the real thing. It was amazing and I would definitely go and see it again.”
I would have said the same thing, I thought that the show was hilarious and funny. The actresses were great for the part. The main thing that I enjoyed though was singing along to the songs as they performed them.”
Fat men in a bath tub – Written by T Lee-Clarke, Year 8
Jez and Bill play well known music, a great mixture of heavy rock, blues and classic rock and roll.
The audience can request particular songs too which makes it brilliant (I asked them to play AC/DC thunder struck and Black and Black which sounded amazing, loved hearing them play it with a twist).
They play Fender Stratocasters with a mixture of pedals, from reverb to overdrive, this enabled them to play a wide range of music without changing guitar.
SILVER ARTS AWARD REVIEWS
Tivoli Concert & Capital Summer Time Ball - Written by P Rigby, Year 9
Part C Unit 1
On the 6th of May, I went to Copenhagen for the weekend with my mum. On the Friday night just after we arrived we went to the famous theme park of Tivoli. Little did we know that every Friday night they held concerts of the hottest new artist of the week there. There were a staggering 30,000 people there all watching this amazing band play and going on the roller coasters and the fairground games and the amazing food shops and markets available. The band playing was “The Cat Empire” and sadly I had no idea what they were saying in the slightest as it was all in Danish. I didn’t mind though because the atmosphere was amazing and I could roughly get a gist of what they meant as massive flat screens showed up and the music videos and images of related topics to the song were playing on loops. When they sang they looked a bit stupid because they were doing weird things with their arms and doing things that I actually can’t explain, however I realized if they stood there all shy it would have been like what? Why are you like that…? And they had so much adrenalin and were going into the crowd because doing something like that must give you a rush but then they can’t get that all the time and so that is probably why every artist goes to rehab for a summer holiday.
One band were all in white so they looked a bit like dancing snow men, but the backup dancers were wearing like denim shorts and crop tops with a Egyptian theme printed on them. That was definitely better than the snowmen singing. The next group were in blue wash jeans and hoodies but they had no back up dancers which was a shame because I want to be a backup dancer when I’m older as I think it is an amazing thing to do like traveling the world on tours and doing what I love in style and with a purpose.
I’m very surprised at the lights as they were really flashing so I am just hoping there was no epileptic people there as bit flashing white lights everywhere does not sound like the greatest place for them to be. They were white coloured laser but somewhere red, blue, green and so on but it looked really good at the time because it just added to the excitement. It was really loud there and this music was big bass drop music and heavy metal so not really my cup of tea but I still did like it as it was live and that was pretty good.
As it was in Danish I didn’t really know what they were saying but the words were clear but just not for me to understand. There was this really funny little guy with a keyboard there playing the, main tune but that was really the only instrument used except their voices. To be honest I loved the atmosphere the most as everyone was clapping and dancing along and the singers were doing crazy things and it was just a really cool thing to experience. But if I were to go again I would prefer it to be in English as that would be helpful, or even subtitles to help me and other tourists enjoy the experience more.
Capital Summer Time Ball
On the 11th of June I went with a friend and my mum to the capital summer time ball in Wembley. The acts that took the stage were little mix, Tinie Tempah, Jess Glynne, Ariana Grande, clean bandit and Louisa Johnson, years and years, Craig David, mike posner, the vamps, will.i.am, Zara Larsson, sigala, Nathan skyes, Lukas graham, flo rida, Jillionaire of major lazer, WSTRN, MNEK and dizzee rascal.
As you can see here there was a lot of great acts and it started at 3 and ended at 10:30. My definite favourites were Lucas Graham, major lazer, Tinie Tempah and sigala. There was a staggering amount of 80,000 people there. The atmosphere was so energetic and every single person was buzzing.
Almost every act had a different entrance like some pretended to be the backup dancers but ripped their clothes off and you were like wow its little mix, some came up from under the stage, some just walked on and some had the back drop rise to reveal them. These were all affective because it told you a lot about the people and how they are and also the anticipation of waiting who to see it was really good too.
The lighting wasn’t as good in the day time as you couldn’t see because it was so bright but when the sun went down it was really affective because as the lights were going crazy it just added to the excitement of the whole arena. We could here perfectly fine and we went even that close. That’s because they had ginormous speakers by the place where people were standing in the middle of the stadium and also for the good acts, everyone was singing their songs so we could also here that way too.
It was very funny because at the beginning little mix had really nice costumes on that were like leotards and look.
Annie, Aladdin & The Secret Garden - Written by G Cottage, Year 9
This production of "Annie" was probably the best stage performance I've seen in quite a while! The scenery was fantastic...richly done with amazing effects! The cast was absolutely fabulous! "Annie" was superb! Every performer was "spot on" with their lines, etc. The enthusiasm of the cast was evident. Can't say enough about the quality of this performance! My favorite moment was definitely when Lily St Regis, Rooster and Miss Hannigan sing easy street. Annie and the orphans were also exceptional. Lynn Andrews who plays Miss Hannigan was so good- her talent had me in awe. Garrett Deagon who plays Rooster took that part and made it his own.
Can I just start by saying how incredible the set and staging was? I can’t even emphasize it enough, absolutely fantastic. Especially the part where Aladdin is stuck in the Cave. It looked like gold was hanging from the ceiling which created the most amazing atmosphere. Throughout the whole show the cast interacted with the audience and that is quite impressive. “A Whole New World” was very moving and how it was staged with the flying carpet and the fake wind was truly fantastic and realistic. Overall it was an outstanding performance with exquisite music and percussion and the most amazing set. Thoroughly enjoyed the show.
The Secret Garden is about a particularly arrogant and unpleasant girl called Mary Lennox. At the start of the play, she lives in India, but is forced to leave for her uncle's mansion in England in order to escape a devastating outbreak of cholera. The newly released musical is about how the discovery of a secret garden transforms the character of Mary and another character. I really liked the play, as it was fascinating to see Mary change from a horrible, spoiled brat to a sweet-hearted girl. The best scene was probably when Mary first finds the garden that was hidden for a decade, as the description left such a clear image in my mind. The set when she first enters the garden was extraordinary!
Jack White at the 02 & Led Zeppelin Tribute Band - Written by K Evetts, Year 11
On the 19th November 2014, I saw one of my favourite musicians of all time live at the O2 in London with my Dad! Jack White has been an inspiration for me ever since I started playing guitar. He is one of the few true blues guitarists left, and has been cited many times as the Guitar Hero of the 21st Century. Seeing Jack live was certainly one of the highlights of my Arts Awards project and a moment I’ll never forget.
The music Jack and his band played was an interesting mixture of Rock, Blues, Country and Folk. After leaving his Rock Duo – the White Stripes, Jack expanded his sound by adding instruments including: violins, a double bass, mandolins, a pedal steel and a vintage MOOG synthesiser! Although by and large it is still the raw powerful sound produced by the White Stripes, Jack has grown as an artist and his music now sounds more mature.
Another interesting thing to note is the number of acoustic pieces Jack played. Although the White Stripes acoustic songs always sounded good, now, acoustic songs such as ‘temporary ground’ sound even better with the added textures of violin and piano. Songs like this one sound very similar to some of Bob Dylan’s later work such as ‘Hurricane’ an eight minute long epic featuring beautiful lyrics, appropriately simple guitar work, and an amazing folk inspired violin part which plays throughout the song.
Because Jack White only has two albums at the moment, he had to draw heavily from his older White Stripes and Raconteurs material to supplement his 2 ½ - 3 hour long set list! I had to leave and go home before he finished unfortunately as I don’t live in London and the last train home was around 12:30.
My favourite song written by Jack White at that time was a White Stripes song: ‘Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground’. Normally Jack starts his gigs with it, however on this occasion he didn’t. As the concert went on I became more and more worried that he wouldn’t play it at all. It was the song I was there to hear, a beautiful song that I always have enjoyed playing and hearing. About half way through the concert, Jack, making sure his audience was happy, shouted something like: “Just shout the songs you want me to play!” He doesn’t have a set list, he just plays songs he feels like during his performance.
During a perhaps, 5 minute break, I think before the encore the arena had gone quite quiet. There was still a low frequency murmur of people talking, but it was nothing compared to the painfully loud guitar and screaming of fans I had been subjected to until that point. The highlight of my evening and possibly my year is when I seized this opportunity and screamed “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground, Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” at the top of my lungs really loud.
I don’t know whether it was a coincidence, but to my astonishment when Jack White starting playing, the first thing I heard was the familiar sounds Dead Leave’s opening chords. My Jaw dropped and I turned to my Dad, and excited to the point of being unable to form words, I just shouted “THAT’S THE SONG” over and over again. Needless to say by the end of the evening I had lost my voice and probably damaged my hearing, but it was worth it! For me that evening was everything I love about the arts.
Led Zepplin Trubute Band
On the 4th of February 2016, I went to see a Led Zeppelin tribute band called ‘Hats off to Led Zeppelin’ at GLive in Guildford. Led Zeppelin is my favourite band, and while I’ll probably never be able to see them live, this is the closest I can get. The band played a variety of material all the way from early Led Zeppelin to the later, sometimes less well known songs. I think they mostly tried to emulate a live Led Zeppelin concert, and put in all the live versions of the studio recordings. Often the band would start with a song then change after a few bars to another one. This is what Led Zeppelin did live to surprise the audience with the most famous songs.
While the members of the tribute act didn’t look very much like the original Led Zeppelin, they went a very long way to emulating the sound and it was mostly quite convincing. While the Bass and drums definitely sounded almost identical to John Paul Jones and Bonham, the guitarist and singer, while they played brilliantly, did not always sound identical to Led Zeppelin. This is to be expected really because no one sounds like Robert Plant, and it is very difficult to emulate Pages tone without thousands of pounds spent on vintage equipment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it was interesting to hear Led Zeppelin slightly different to normal.
First of all the vocalist was phenomenal! He had a range similar to Plant in the early Led Zeppelin years before he burned out his voice. He was able to hit some of the notes that plant recorded in the studio but never tried to sing live. He could sing the highest notes in ‘Since I’ve Been loving you’ and the lowest notes in ‘Going to California’. This is extremely impressive and exactly what is needed in a Led Zeppelin tribute band. While the tone wasn’t identical, it didn’t need to be and I enjoyed it just like it was.
The bass player really stood out for me as well. All his bass lines seemed to weave around the guitar parts really well just like Jones’ did, and he is a pretty good keys player as well. The bass feel and tone seemed to me to be just right in the context. It sounded very similar to Jones’ tone in the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion concert in that it very bright and almost seemed to be another lead instrument while keeping the rhythm section going at the same time.
The drummer and guitarist were both good musicians as well but I felt that the playing was too similar to the recordings. What I mean by that is that there wasn’t much of a sense of improvisation and experimentation. The drummer, played all the drum solos note for note, and while this is impressive as Bonham’s parts are hard to play, I feel Bonham himself would have played with a bit more passion and variation.
The guitarist played with incredible accuracy and skill, but for a while I thought it was a bit underwhelming. The guitar parts were played like they were in Led Zep’s studio albums, not how they were played live and with very little improvisation. While the tribute guitarist played with more accuracy than Page would have done I still felt that spark wasn’t there. However after the interval when the guitarist played the solo for ‘Heartbreaker’ he seemed to have stepped his game a bit, and there was more of the blisteringly fast improvised solos which I am familiar with. Over all I left the gig very impressed with all of the musicians.