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Haverhill school's musical production becomes a big YouTube success




An online school drama production has been hailed a virtual success after attracting more than 28,000 viewers.

Students at Samuel Ward Academy, in Haverhill, finally got to perform the Little Shop of Horrors last week – after starting rehearsals almost a year ago.

The production had originally been planned for April but was halted by the national lockdown just weeks before the curtain was due to go up.

Ben Frere as Seymour and Aidan Elsden as Orin in Little Shop of Horrors. Picture by Russ Bennett
Ben Frere as Seymour and Aidan Elsden as Orin in Little Shop of Horrors. Picture by Russ Bennett

Undeterred, the school’s drama department decided to turn the show into a virtual one with three live performances on YouTube.

Matthew Russell, head of performing arts at the school, said he was delighted how the performances went.

He said: “We were all devastated when we had to postpone in March.

Izzy Wilson as Audrey, with Audrey 2, the plant, in Little Shop of Horrors. Picture by Russ Bennett
Izzy Wilson as Audrey, with Audrey 2, the plant, in Little Shop of Horrors. Picture by Russ Bennett

“So when the option of turning it into a live streaming event was made possible, it was an ideal opportunity to make sure the show went on.”

The staging of the production included measures for social distancing, class bubbles and performers wearing masks in rehearsals and backstage as well as a one-way system.

Mr Russell said: “We’ve had to change a lot of things, but the students performed brilliantly but also adhered to every aspect of the national safety guidance.

Seymour, played by Ben Frere, holds Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors. Picture by Russ Bennett
Seymour, played by Ben Frere, holds Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors. Picture by Russ Bennett

“I couldn’t be prouder of them all.

“I would also like to thank everyone who made this possible – including our drama and IT teams and even Mayor of Haverhill John Burns who filmed the three evenings.”

Andy Hunter, headteacher at Samuel Ward Academy, said: “It is quite extraordinary to think that the show has so far been watched more than 28,000 times and seen by people all over the world.

“I would like to say a huge congratulations to everyone involved.

“What a fantastic achievement and what a powerful advert for the excellence in our school.”

The principle roles of Seymour and Audrey were taken by Ben Frere and Izzy Wilson, who actually left Samuel Ward in the summer but has been allowed time off by her university, where she is studying performing arts, to return for the productions.

To view the production, please visit the Samuel Ward Academy YouTube channel

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