Dreaming The Dream – Maximilian Stapleton, Director
As the first ever JCoSS students, we were guinea pigs for the school. It evolved according to our own experiences, and we set a precedent for the years following us.
As the first ever JCoSS students, the school evolved according to our own experiences, and we set a precedent for the years following us. We had taken a risk by turning to an untested vision for a school; the same breed of risk that prompted the deep breath and plunge into JCoSS Les Miserables. This idea spawned when we contemplated what legacy our cohort would leave once we were gone. Our departure seemed greyer when considering the immense talent within our school, and how we had never truly witnessed it. Les Miserables became the colourful solution to this problem. Specifically chosen due to the popular appeal it held over all ages, and the enthusiasm we shared for it. The idea bloomed, leading us to propose our bold idea to Senior Leadership, and they chose to entrust us with the challenge. A task which became a journey longer and greater than what we could ever have imagined. It was not easy, and we encountered many obstacles along the way. Setbacks meant that the show had to be delayed for many months. At times it felt the ends were not even plausible, and that the audiences would never take their seats. But this implausibility was eradicated by a kindled sense of community and cooperation. Progress dwindled when we fell apart; it flourished when we came together. Only then did we set the precedent we had envisioned. When Noa Rees brought the costumes, the cast became the characters. When Max Mydat constructed the set, the scenes came to life. When the stagehands lifted the pieces, the scenes began to move. When Natalie Dalcher and Ayala Gottlieb Alter gave us musical direction, the movement had a sound. When Mr Brookman brought together the band, the sound had a song. And when Molly Schiller and I gave direction, that idea performed a musical.
Building Les Miserables – Max Mydat, Set Designer
By November of year 13, rehearsals were in full swing. Performers used classroom objects as makeshift props and set pieces. I joined the team as set designer and sat down with Max Stapleton to discuss how we would translate these rehearsals on to stage. Our goal was to design set pieces that could be used throughout the show in a variety of ways; keeping costs minimal.
Over the winter break I drew up the designs for each scene, referencing Max’s initial drawings. As a lover of all things DIY, I found it enjoyable labouring these designs into practical pieces of stage by sawing and drilling as fast as humanly possible in the Art and Design Technology Department, whilst rehearsals constantly took place in the music rooms below.
This show was so interesting to design and build for because of such iconic set pieces like the barricade (that I may have subtly painted my initials on). I am amazingly proud of the performers who brought the set to life for the audience, which makes me proud of what I have produced in my first experience as a set designer. I couldn’t have completed everything without aid from sixth formers who took the time to assist me – I would like to say a huge thank you to these unsung heroes of the production.
One Day More – Ayala Gottlieb Alter, Musical Director
The excitement was tangible as cast, crew and chorus congregated in the main hall early on Sunday morning, one day more before the show. As the dress rehearsal began, it was beyond inspiring to finally see the set, performers, band and costumes come together for the first time. Students from years seven to thirteen united in pursuit of our common goal: to make JCoSS’s first full school production the best it could possibly be. It was touching to see everyone working in harmony, and noticeable how the younger years seemed to look up to the sixth formers. For us year thirteens who never had such role models at JCoSS, we really started to understand the lasting impact this wonderful, insane project would have.
The sixth form team and staff members worked tirelessly throughout Monday; sorting props, costumes, set and stage, rehearsing the chorus, and making sure everyone knew exactly what they were doing and where they needed to be when. During lesson five on the Monday, we delivered an abridged performance to the year sevens.This raised morale and confidence, helping us to believe that we were ready for the evening show, the prospect of which was made just that little bit less daunting. Whilst our nerves were somewhat calmed, we noted weaknesses that had yet to be smoothed over. Thus ensued the mad rush of rehearsing cues, adjusting costumes and applying makeup. As school let out, we tucked into an enjoyable meal of schnitzel and chips. Exhilaration permeated the atmosphere in the cafeteria with only a couple of hours left to go before we were due to share the fruits of our labour.
Waiting in the wings for the bubble of chatter to subside, anticipation charged performers and stagehands alike. As the house lights dimmed, those first cohort students took a moment to appreciate that we were on the cusp of realising our director’s dream and affirming the legacy of our year group. Live performances are never perfect, but when something went amiss or our nerves got the better of us, everyone stepped up to make it appear as seamless as possible for the audience. Disaster struck on Monday evening when the laptops generating sound effects for two of the keyboards cut out as the school system reset at 7:30pm. Thanks to Mr Brookman who worked his magic for the remainder of act one, Hardly anybody noticed. The occasional hiccup was insignificant next to the incredible performance of the main cast. From a musical director’s perspective, seeing our stars nail every single melody and harmony was nothing short of uplifting. The result was worth every hour spent rehearsing solos, duets, trios, harmonies and complex rhythmic patterns.
We were euphoric as the final show approached its end on Tuesday night. Thanks were given through moving words, chocolates and sunflowers. Emotional speeches backstage with cast and crew culminated this incredible journey, following our last triumphant encore of One Day More.
Ruby-Rose Mansoor – “We created more than an amazing production, we created friendships that will live past our times at JCoSS.”
Gemma Eshkeri – “one of the best moments of my 7 years at JCoSS”
Benjamin Kelly – “When I first came to Jcoss in September 2015, it wasn’t long until I revealed my love of Les Mis to Max, and we sang the confrontation together constantly. I love how it came from that and ended as this great production; it’s crazy how awesome it turned out, with a brilliant cast and team who put on an amazing show. I think it’ll be impossible to top this.”
Molly Schiller – “It was definitely a challenging experience, but at the end of the day (pun intended) it completely paid off and the feeling we got at the end of the two shows was worth every second of rehearsal and planning!”
“It was a great evening. The students were really impressive.”
“What a talented bunch of students!”
“I went to see Les Mis last night and it was FANTASTIC!”
“The singing was unbelievable and it’s so so impressive that it was all done by sixth formers.”
“For a school production it was an incredible tour de force of the highest quality.”
“I was particularly impressed that all school year groups were able to participate and the evening will live long in the memory. In short – Wow!”
“A superlative performance.”
“It was an amazingly professional production, both the performers and the music were incredible.”