FIRST of all, congratulations to every one of the huge cast involved in Wincanton Primary School’s end of term Year 6 and Year 5 show, Peter Pan. It was directed by the teachers of the two classes, who chose Mark, Helen and Naomi Johnson’s version of the familiar story with its script by Sue Langwade.
It’s a terrific show, full of action and catchy songs and tells the story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up with lots of fun and excitement. The specially-for-schools version allows a flexible-sized cast and a large-scale chorus who can sing the very varied songs that draw their inspiration from many styles. At Wincanton, the pupils adapted with gusto and skill to the many styles that ranged from Victorian military to 21st century pop.
The hall, with its cloud-shaped acoustic panels and new stage lighting, was packed by the cast of 49 plus the chorus and their families and friends for two nights. The excitement was palpable. The pupils had made a variety of props – a crocodile, a kennel doubling as a cottage, cut-outs of London buildings, rocky outcrops, a ship, and many more. So as the Darling family gets ready for the evening out, and Peter and his grumpy fairy Tinkerbell prepare to whizz in through the window to find Peter’s lost shadow, the stage is set for action.
Bring on the pirates, the wild warriors, the mermaids and the Lost Boys. Captain Hook and his dumb second-in-command Mr Smee try their best, but they are no match for the heroic Peter Pan. And then it’s home to London, Lost Boys in tow and Peter brings the lasting magic that makes everyone’s life worthwhile.
There has been much talk about recent government and school plans to ditch drama and music from the curriculum, to concentrate on more “vital” subjects. Productions like Wincanton Primary School’s Peter Pan demonstrate exactly how ill-thought-out and plain wrong this is. Not only do such shows introduce youngsters to literature and music and the arts but also to the joy and fun of working together to delight others.