“‘I’m not sure, but I wonder if inside my head, I’m not just a bit different from some of my friends,” sings the character Matilda in Matilda the Musical.
These words encapsulate the theme of the 7th annual variety performance by Leighton Buzzard-based Musical Theatre High!, which was held at the Venue MK on March 30-31.
This year’s show, which was dedicated to the memory of local script-writer Chris Amos, celebrated the stories of a number of characters from musical theatre who are perceived or perceive themselves as ‘Different’.
From aspiring drag queen Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie to the disfigured Hunchback of Notre Dame to cripplingly self-conscious Evan Hansen, these are all people - like super-intelligent Matilda - who for some reason stand out amongst their peers.
Through singing, dancing and acting, the stories of these and other characters, the Academy highlighted the importance of recognising and accepting such differences as part of the amazingly rich tapestry of life or, in the case of dream-telling Joseph, the many bright colours of his puffer jacket!
Every year the show seems to be bigger, bolder and better, and this year was no exception. It was clear from the dazzling, multi-layered opening number, ‘This Is Me’ from the Greatest Showman, that each of the 170-plus local children on stage embraced both their own individuality and the unique qualities of the characters whom they played.
They put on a performance which was, quite simply, special. Not only was it outstanding for its ambitiously creative production and the astonishing talent and energy of the cast, but also for the mutual respect and affection that is shared by every member of the MTH! family.
At the end of the final performance, principal Richard Reynard and assistant Kate West praised the students for their hard work and dedication to the Academy.
The Junior Musical Theatre Scholarship was won by Evie Leeks, and the Senior Musical Theatre Scholarship by Sonny Mulhern. Trophies were awarded to Zoe White (Rosie May Foundation Annual Scholarship), Cerys Verrier (Girls’ Award), Callum Allinson (Boys’ Award), Thomas Jones (Bridget & Jerry Fox Potential Award and Annual Scholarship), Freddie Cross (Special Achievement Award) and Max Smith (Scarlett Strallen Stand Out Award). Abby Davies remains Head Girl for the coming year, while Spencer Digby joins he in becoming Head Boy.
For further information about the Academy, including regular class times and details of the 2019 summer schools, Mamma Mia (July 23 and 25) and We Will Rock You (July 24 and 26) visit www.musicaltheatrehigh.com.