Rooftop’s young stars shine on stage at Stafford’s Gotta Sing
Students from Stone performing arts academy Rooftop Studios bought the house down at Stafford’s Gatehouse Theatre last month with their performance for Stafford’s Gotta Sing.
Joining a host of other youth theatre and performing arts group for the annual showcase, students from the studio’s Senior Stage Academy and Vocal Smash singing troupe, ranging in age from 10 – 17, performed series of tracks with a 1920s prohibition-era theme. Rather than perform tracks from the era, however, they chose to put a 20s twist on popular modern tracks, as Rooftop’s singing teacher, Kit Henson, explains:
“2020 is a nice round number – it made me instantly think “Wow, 100 years ago it was 1920…” I liked the idea of the contrast from then to now – the thought of prohibition, and how little policing of music and alcohol we have now. We searched for songs authentically from the 1920s but only really felt inspired by “Minnie the Moocher” but, having used Post Modern Jukebox versions of pop songs before in class and for the soap box derby one year, we decided to look into 20s versions of contemporary songs.”
The result was a real mixed bag of styles and artists cleverly transformed by 1920s style arrangements to tell a cohesive story – first up was Alex Walton with a solo performance of Cab Calloway’s Minnie the Moocher, followed by Annie Connell and Chole Bevan switching it up for a prohibition-era version of Britney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again by duet Annie Connell and Chole Bevan. Isabella Blackburn then performed Adele’s Chasing Pavements before a tap-dancing performance by Sophie Tonge, James Tonge, Isabella Blackburn and Faith Barrow. Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road was next to get the 20s treatment, with vocals from Luke Jones, James Tonge, Brady White and Ned Hancock before Caitlin Hill, Niamh Newby, Ruby Hill, Faith Barrow put a flapper spin on Beyonce’s Single Ladies. Alex Lewis rounded up the performance with a hauntingly beautiful ballad arrangement of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ as the rest of the cast embarked on a bar-room brawl behind her.
But it wasn’t just the diversity of the tracks and quality of the singing that won the students a standing ovation – the whole performance piece was carefully constructed to provide context, as Kit explains:
“From the beginning I had the idea for the bar brawl – I liked the juxtaposition of Alex singing a beautiful ballad whilst it all ‘kicked off’ behind her! I always like to create something more conceptual rather than just stand and sing, it allows the students to really immerse themselves not just in the music, but in the performance element too. For the audience it creates a more immersive style of performance too – transporting them to a different time and place.”
With another winning performance under their belts, Senior Stage Academy students are now busy rehearsing for their big show, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, which will run at the Stoke Rep Theatre from September 23rd-26th.