Christmas is a big deal at Farnborough Hill. Massive, in fact, with jumpers, lunches and decorations galore. Yet, we always felt something was missing so, this September, the idea of a pantomime was suggested. Bravely, a small team from the Lower Sixth set about producing the first Farnborough Hill Pantomime in approximately 20 years.
Our first step was to choose a play upon which to base it. Mamma Mia was, without hesitation, an immediate choice as our year group had attended a West End performance in Year 11. We then decided to do a mash-up between Mamma Mia and The Play That Goes Wrong – just in case it all did all go wrong!
From this initial idea, we took the basic script of Mamma Mia, cut it down and modified it to suit the pantomime theme we wanted. The writing of the script can mainly be credited to Tabitha Minson, who added her ironic humour and literary talent to the process. The casting followed, where we decided the teachers would take the nine main parts, as well as having numerous cameos and several more helping behind the scenes.
We decided on a limited rehearsal schedule of five main rehearsals, in which we had to read through, set and practice nine scenes. Time seemed to fly as we ran through each scene and the magnitude of what we were trying to pull off seemed more and more obvious the nearer we got to the live performance date.
Throughout this whole operation, we somehow succeeded in keeping the pantomime a secret from the rest of the school. On the week of the play, to add some excitement to the mix, as if we needed more, posters were put up around school with photos of the staff involved and out of context quotes from the play – such as, ‘this is definitely a shed’. This invoked a buzz around school and I heard all sorts of rumors about what might be taking place that Thursday – from a carol concert by the Sixth Form, to a dance by the Senior Leadership Team.
The day of the pantomime finally arrived; everyone involved was buzzing either out of excitement or nerves. Most had been up late the night before, repeating their lines over and over or practicing the dance routines. A morning of final rehearsals and Christmas Lunch preceded the actual show and, before long, we nervously waited backstage for the play to begin.
As it turns out, we had no reason to worry as the long-awaited performance ran without a hitch. The whole school got involved, dancing and singing to ABBA hits, including Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia and S.O.S. The Dynamos, consisting of Donna, Tanya, Rosie and Mandy from College - a favourite character of the audience, played by Mr Wellington - performed many dance numbers and were a legendary quartet. Equally as brilliant were the three Dads who, no one can deny, were as close to a real life Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Pierce Brosnan as any could wish. A special mention must go to Mr Maccherini and Mr Temple who were the perfect Sophie and Sky duo and, I think, their dynamic performance of Lay All Your Love On Me will truly live on in Farnborough Hill history forever.
It is impossible to mention everyone involved but, a huge thank you must go to the Creative Team for putting the whole play together, Mrs De Mattos for supporting us through the process, Miss Andrews for her brilliant, as usual, hair and makeup, the Sixth Form for their superb dance and finally every member of Farnborough Hill staff for taking on their role to the fullest extent and making Mamma Mia a truly brilliant experience.
Jess (Lower Sixth)