This year RSD’s Dramatic Society took on the challenge of performing a play based on two well-known and much loved novels by Lewis Carroll. This was a huge task and the cast, crew and backstage teams did incredibly well to produce such a spectacle in only two months. Below is a snapshot of the performances and achievements of all those involved, with thanks to Mr McDowell.
Sienna Fenton was incredibly impressive as Alice, remaining on the stage for almost every moment, of every scene in the play. She used her facial expression to perfection to convey the character’s thoughts and feelings, whilst confidently using props at times as well. Her achievement in learning so many lines, especially many that made little sense, has to be commended too.
Playing the role of the Duchess, White Queen and Sheep, Catherine Boyd’s interpretation of these characters made the audience laugh with her comic timing, whilst demonstrating her vocal range as she performed.
Aimee Johnston’s portrayal of the Cheshire Cat and Humpty Dumpty was brilliant as she varied her movement and posture in the two roles to create two very distinct characters. Many of her lines were also nonsensical and thus her ability to remember them was impressive.
The Queen of Hearts and Red Queen were played by Bebhinn Elliot Murphy who convincingly captured the stern and cold nature of both Queens; whilst using her intonation and gestures to make the two characters distinct. Her smooth movements when moving across the stage also conveyed her role as a figure of authority in the play.
Odo Pang played the part of Charles Dodgson, Dodo and the White Knight, demonstrating his pleasant singing voice and ability to remain in character amongst the craziness of the scenes unfolding in front of him. His use of gestures conveyed the different characters that he was playing very effectively.
Abigail Patterson took to the stage as the Dormouse. Her ditzy and loveable character was one that the audience was thoroughly entertained by, in amusing scenes such as the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Abigail was also seen playing the role of the Railway Guard, demonstrating her ability to adapt to multiple roles.
The comic duo of Tweedledee (Chloe McCaughey) and Tweedledum (Ellyn Cardwell) were also crowd favourites, gaining multiple laughs from the audience during their memorable scenes on stage with Alice. Their acting skills also shone through in the characters of the Gryphon and Mock Turtle, who were equally as witty.
Alex Talbot played the amusing roles of the Knave of Hearts, Red Knight and the Walrus. Alex’s various accents and expressive acting both contributed to the brilliant execution of his very diverse, comic characters.
Katie Chambers role as ‘The White Rabbit’ demonstrated her fantastic projection and enunciation, in a challenging role. Her memorable singing voice will not soon be forgotten, in what was a very polished performance.
Hollie Magowan played the parts of ‘The Frog-Footman’, ‘The Carpenter’ and ‘The Unicorn’, presenting a brilliant range through her three roles. She managed to covey the various character’s personalities well, especially through the hilarity of the unicorn’s fight.
Timothy Ryan shone in his roles as “The March Hare”, “Haigha” and the “Crocodile”. His spot-on comedic timing and hilarious duo with James Stockdale was one of the show’s highlights.
James Stockdale’s zany performance as “The Mad Hatter” and “Hatta” left the crowd in stitches. Stockdale and Ryan’s double act was a massive hit. A great farewell show for the leaving Year 14.
The roles of the psychotic Cook and the White King were played with aplomb by Matthew McNeill. In only his second outing with the Dramatic Society, Matthew was very assured and used his strong voice and excellent English accents to effectively portray these very different characters to the audience.
Benjamin Neill made his first foray into RSD’s dramatic world as the King of Hearts and the Red King. His King of Hearts was the more memorable role (the Red King’s main job was to snore!) He played the part of the pompous but cowardly King with an excellent sense of tone and great facial expressions.
Rebekah Needham (Lorina Liddell & Lory) & Katelyn Wylie (Edith Liddell & Eaglet) made a great impression in all of their roles. These young actresses showed they are stars of the future with confident, expressive and engaging performances.
Canon Duckworth, Duck and Lion were roles all played by Joe Thompson. We haven’t seen Joe on the RSD stage since he was one of the youngest members of the cast of ‘Hello Dolly’. We look forward to seeing him again, especially in comic scenes such as the boxing match he took part in, in his role as the Lion.
Vilius Slajus was another debutant with the Dramatic Society, having previously been involved with Junior Drama. He played both his roles, as the Caterpillar and the Aged Man with skill and confidence. Nevertheless, his patronising and pointlessly didactic Caterpillar was undoubtedly the more memorable role and drew great praise from the audience.
The Youth and Father William, Jamie Hamilton & James Moan, were two of the most popular characters in the play. The boys’ over-the-top antics and gestures drew great laughter from the crowd and Mr Cuddy has his eye on the pair due to their impressive singing!
A final mention must be made of the part played by RSD Dramatic Society Veteran, Rachel Ryan. Her role as the Mouse (alongside other roles), and the song which went with it, pushed Rachel out of her comfort zone. However, she did it very well indeed and it was a great way for her to finish her time with us in the Dramatic Society.
Many thanks must also go to a very able supporting cast, who performed in numerous roles: Oliver McIlravie, Cherith Robinson, Beth Emerson, Zara McDermott, Laura Birnie, Nicole Parr, Faith Gildernew, Harry Hayes, Hannah Courtney, Jayne Courtney, Reese McCaughey, Sophie-Jean Knox.
Backstage, Props, Sound and Lighting
The backstage, props and sound & lighting teams are to be commended for their excellent work behind the scenes. Props and scenery both were impressively detailed and convincing, as well as highly imaginative in the ability to convey a great deal in each individual scene through a small number of well-chosen and skilfully created stage items. Great thanks must go to Mrs Clingan, Mrs Best, Mrs Prescott and the pupils who helped with all aspects of Art and Design on the set. Similarly, Mr Canning and Mr Johnston must be praised for their expertise and hard work in building much of the set.
Despite the large number of scene changes, changes were swift and efficient, without being too rushed or panicky. The backstage and props teams (led by Stage Manager Paddi Matthews and Assistant Stage Manager Tommy Hajdu) showed excellent leadership and teamwork in helping the performance run smoothly. Thanks also goes to Mrs Matthews for helping to ensure the performances ran smoothly and everyone was where they were supposed to be.
This was complimented by the superb work of the sound and lighting teams (led by Alix Wylie and Jamie McAteer). The clever use of “soundtrack” music to accompany scene changes and introduce the next scene added to the continuous flow of the performance and meant that there was never a dull moment! As well as this, the lighting changes were efficient and made without error (or nearly without error!) Throughout the performance there was sensible use of filters and moving spot, particularly when more than one scene appeared on the stage at the same time. Great thanks must also go to Mr McGuinness for all his hard work in regards to sound in particular (on top of all his other critical work as Producer), and to Mr Cuddy for providing the musical tracks for the songs performed as part of the play itself.
Costumes, Hair and Make-Up
This year’s theatrical production was notably challenging for the costumes and make-up teams, with a staggering 90+ costumes required, and several swift makeup changes needed by the majority of actors and actresses. Despite this, both committees stood up to the challenge and created a spectacular world of colour and madness with their marvellous results. The costume committee, led by Mrs Chambers and Mrs Kerr, and aided by Mrs Hampton and Mrs A. McMullan, were imaginative, creative and resourceful, using a very wide range of materials to create wacky costumes, notable examples included: the mini-tents for the Caterpillar’s tail, the ingenious use of barnacles on the otherwise simple oysters and the hand-crafted Cheshire Cat suit.
Mrs McGurk and Miss McCombe’s Hair and Make-up Team were equally as impressive, managing to portray a wide array of characters on stage from the porcelain King and Queen of Hearts, to the elderly Father William. The school owe a great thanks to these teams for helping every actor make a memorable first impression when stepping on stage.
Finally, a big thank you to Mr Ritchie for organising all ticket sales, to Mrs E. Patterson and the pupils who helped create the programme, to Mr Moore for making many of the notes on the performances used above and to the prefects and other staff who helped in various ways before, during and after the performances.