Chalk Talk: A night that showed creativity in our schools at its very best
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 10 April 2013
I went to a West End theatre on Sunday night – not something I would normally mention in this column, but it was rather a special occasion.
The whole theatre – Her Majesty's, Haymarket, just off London's Piccadilly Circus – had been taken over for the evening by the Havering College of Further and Higher Education for a special performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
It was packed to the rafters, and the atmosphere was akin to a Justin Bieber concert (all right, I haven't been to one but I did see The Beatles in the 1960s so I can imagine, although I should perhaps point out that this production started on time) and it was a wonderful advertisement for all that is good about creativity and drama in the state sector.
Apparently, the college has been producing these types of shows on the London stage for the past seven years – last year it staged a special tribute to the Olympics at the London Palladium.
One of the college's strengths is its performing arts (it has about 700 students and also runs degree-level courses) and it numbers amongst its ex-students former X Factor finalist and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner Stacey Solomon – who still keeps in touch with her roots.
It was not just the college's efforts that were on show here, though – it had also involved several local schools, including primary and special schools, in the evening's entertainment. A night to remember for children as young as six, then. And also for the two leads – Adam Wheeler as Joseph and TJ Bain as the narrator – both of whom had strong enough voices to grace a professional production at the theatre. Throw in a wonderful Elvis Presley pastiche from Dean Lee Vegas as Pharaoh and you had the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
It's just a shame that they have been doing it for seven years and not many people on the national scene seem to have noticed. That, though, says more about us than it does about them.
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