Studio West's Debut Production Wows Local Community

Issue 102

Studio West, a secondary school based in West Denton and part of Northern Leaders Trust, put on a dazzling debut school production of Bugsy Malone earlier this year. The performance took place at the school between 7th - 9th February.

Organised by drama teacher, Nicole Mavin, music teacher, Jack Hawkins, and stage manager, Jordan Athey, the production involved 51 Studio West students, both onstage and working behind the scenes. The dedicated staff set the production up with the aim of offering students the chance to engage in a whole school production and showcase the performing arts subjects within the school community.

The production was open to any Key Stage 3 (KS3) and Year 10 students that were interested, and parts were decided through auditions, which were advertised around school and on social media. The cast and crew were made up of mostly KS3 students, but some Year 10 students got involved with front of house support and the performance itself.

Rehearsals for Bugsy Malone started in October, often after school but some extremely committed and passionate students would work on their scenes at break and lunchtimes. This commitment did not stop once the production was over, with Nicole Mavin stating that: “a notable number of students have been inspired to take GCSE Drama and Music as their option subjects due to their experience in the show. Some are even seeking ways to get involved in productions outside of school as they enjoyed it so much and want to develop their skills further.”

The production has had a strong impact on the students’ development and school experience. Nicole highlighted that “many of our students have experienced significant growth in their self-confidence. In my role as their drama teacher, I’ve witnessed remarkable progress in their performance assessments during lessons, with a noticeable eagerness to engage in practical activities. It’s evident that students now have a deeper appreciation of the effort required in staging a production, and they’ve gained insight into the various roles within the performing arts industry.”

The production of Bugsy Malone created a strong sense of camaraderie among the cast and crew. A diverse mix of students, from different year groups, socialised outside of rehearsals and supported each other during various school social events. The membership numbers in the weekly Drama Club have increased, reflecting the lasting impact and bond formed during the production.

Anyone could watch the show, from parents/carers to friends and family, as long as they purchased a ticket. Studio West received an enormous amount of positive parent feedback on social media, including: “Absolutely knocked it out of the park with this show. My family and I really enjoyed watching it. Everyone involved has put their heart and soul into it and that really shone through in the show. Proud is an understatement” and “Wow, we absolutely loved it! Came on the Wednesday with a few relatives and then the Friday… the confidence in the kids was amazing!”

The day before the production’s opening night, the doors to the dress rehearsal were opened to Year 6 students from Studio West’s feeder schools, so prospective students could get a glimpse of what student life is like at Studio West. The feeder school pupils “thoroughly enjoyed the production, and staff members were delighted to witness their former students shining on stage.”

For many students, Bugsy Malone was their first experience of performing arts, and the production has ‘significantly enhanced students’ communication and teamwork skills.’ Their experience has not only refined their abilities in public speaking and performing, but also profusely enhanced their social interaction skills. Nicole highlighted that the camaraderie did not end at the stage curtain, but was extended to backstage where “there was a palpable atmosphere of support and collaboration, which has positively influenced students’ behaviour throughout the school.”

Students left glowing reviews of their experience, including: “I loved Bugsy Malone so much. It gave me a whole new experience and I made so many friends. I am so excited for the next production. Thank you to all of the teachers for making this happen for us.” As soon as this production ended, students were quick to enquire about the next.

Studio West are currently devising their performing arts showcase, ‘A Night at the Oscars’ which will take place on Tuesday, 9th July. Aimee Kirtley, director of music and performing arts expresses her gratitude to the participants: “Staff and crew worked tirelessly to put on an outstanding show. Thank you to all of the parents and carers who supported in the weeks running up to and including the show. We can now reveal that next year’s show will be…Grease! We can’t wait!” This production has an approximate date of 12th-14th February 2025.

More information about ticket purchases can be found here:

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