This one and a half hour musical with lively music, professional acting and an enchanting storyline was put together by fifty students from The Kingston Academy. An endeavour of this proportion was a commendably bold initiative from a relatively young academy located in the Kingston upon Thames. The production was hosted at The Arthur Cotterell Theatre, Kingston College on 27th and 28th February.   

 The musical was originally written as a book by James Lapine, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The play combines the classics from Grimms’ Fairy Tales - a combination of Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little red riding hood, and Cinderella. The tales interknit, pulling all the beloved and unforgettable characters onto a single stage. It was a visual and auditory treat; a family-friendly drama; a musical comedy that hit the right cords.

At the central story line, there is the baker and his wife; their longing for a child of their own, overcast by a witch’s curse. To lift the curse, they depart on a quest ‘into the woods’; in search of a golden slipper, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn husks and a pure white cow. As their quest progresses their fates intertwine with that of Cinderella, Little Red Riding hood, Rapunzel, and Jack – those cherished fragments of fairy dust; forever destined to linger in our minds. A concoction of nostalgic fairy tales, amazing songs, exquisite costumes and props; this musical could have been nothing but an astounding success. After the curtains fell, the applause from the audience lasted for several minutes. It was the best testimony to success the TKA team could have wished for.

What unfolded on the stage of the Arthur Cotterell Theatre that day was the fruition of three long months of sweat and passion of the team TKA. Fifty students from year seven through year ten joined hands with the expert staff members of the TKA Music and Drama department. Minute details of every scene were brainstormed and planned out. Students were involved in all stages of the production from script revisions, organizing practise sessions, costumes, documenting, designing the flyers and marketing. The profit students raised will support and revitalize the Music and Drama department of TKA.

 But, things don't always go according to plan - on the final day of the production there was an unexpected shortage of technical crew. With only half an hour of induction, students stepped up to the challenge and manned the lighting and audio for the musical. What lesson on adaptability and robustness can be more hands on? The learning the students took away from this endeavour is very much in line with the school’s motto -‘Going beyond what schools ordinarily do’.

What intrigued me is the fact that out of the fifty students who were part of the play, only a small portion of them appeared on stage. The rest were the invisible backbones; way out of the lime light and the evident appreciation of the crowd. Still this was no deterrent to any of them. They were united in the intensity and spirit of jubilance at the success of their musical. Another interesting outcome was that this musical brought students with entirely different skill sets and ages together as a team; taught them mutual respect and in a way opened up their world to new possibilities and friendships.

Report by Shreya Karuman with special thanks to Rowan Miller, Mariam Nossair and Holly Greenwood.