Just a school production? Anything but! Ringwood School transformed itself from a comprehensive, to an alluring 1930’s cruise ship with all the bells and whistles, from historically accurate sequin dresses to the newly constructed set.
Upon being seated, we got our first glimpse of the stage which consisted of a central ship guardrail, fixed with two circular life rafts with the SS American printing.
Anything Goes tells the story of stowaway Billy Crocker (played by Year 13 Fraser Dart) and his efforts to win the affection of heiress Hope Harcourt (fellow Year 13 Abbie Hudson). A vast array of colourful characters exist to aid Billy in achieving this goal, namely singer Reno Sweeney who was portrayed by Gina Elward, in her seventh and final Ringwood production.
The Gala evening marked the final of six shows throughout the week, with the atmosphere palpable for one final hurrah. We sailed off with students and representatives from the RSAF (Ringwood School Arts Foundation) providing a complimentary glass of champagne whilst clad in suits and dresses, giving a sense of nuance to the show.
The on-stage action was mesmerising to say the least. The ensemble deserves huge credit. It became a staple during the show that no matter where you looked on stage, members of the ensemble were seamlessly in character – keeping you immersed in the story.
Notable highlights were full ensemble sequence “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and the other was the side splitting “Gypsy in Me”, performed primarily by Craig Newton. Hilariously portraying Lord Evelyn Oakleigh – the stuffy rich English fiancé of Hope Harcourt – this number featured a comedic costume change, bonkers dancing and a moustached Year 7 student playing the accordion. Audience members truly howled with laughter, with one woman cackling well into the next scene.
Trailer by Fraser Dart and Jordan Steeds
The evening’s final offering were the customary speeches and awards that have become a standard in the yearly Gala events. Deputy Stage Manager Charlotte Atkinson emotionally thanked the staff at the helm of the show – notably Musical Director Ian Hawkins.
Mr Hawkins himself then took to the microphone to thank the students, heaping praise on them before introducing the awards for the evening. These speeches were welcomed by an audience who had been irreversibly warmed by the performances.
The awards doubled this year from two to four, with the prestigious John Trapnell Award for Excellence awarded to Gina Elward, who was presented the decoration by the wife of the late John Trapnell – a long-time patron of the RSAF. After the win Gina told Buzz :“I’m just really happy and excited, it was so much fun to be in it.”
In attendance was the 2017 Excellence award winner Zoë Mayall who stated: “I loved the show! It was so incredible because the ensemble were as strong as the principles. But the technical theatre aspect was also impressive, the stage and set were minimal but beautiful.”
The show marks the 17th musical production put on by the comprehensive school, with past titles including We Will Rock You and last year’s Beauty and the Beast.
This production was helmed by Helen Hawkins, who took the reins of director following the stepping down of long time production head, Elise de Lancy Green. Musical Director Ian Hawkins told Buzz: “I am immensely proud of all the amazingly talented and committed students in our school production – I have loved working with them.”
So, what’s next for the Ringwood School production team? They’ll be transporting us to 19th century France and probing our emotions as they undertake the West End classic, Les Misérables – for the third time.
We’ll see you in February 2020.
Timeline of each Ringwood School production.