Musical Theatre

September 29, 2015

Peter Pan: An Awfully Big Adventure

by Conor O'Sullivan

in Productions

We believe in fairies!

If you were one of the people who came to see Peter Pan at the Rhodes over the last couple of weeks then we hope you feel the same way! Bringing one of the most timeless and magical children’s stories to life on the Rhodes stage was a lot of fun, as Peter Pan whisked Wendy Darling and her two brothers John and Michael off to the Neverland, inhabited by the Lost Boys, a tribe of Indians and the nefarious Captain Hook and his motley crew of Pirates. Here’s some of the feedback we received from reviews:

‘Peter Pan was the type of show that every child and every adult could wish for. Enchanting, engaging, and hugely entertaining.’ – YourHarlow

‘They were whisked (to Neverland) by Bishops Stortford and Harlow’s Phoenix Theatre, a supremely talented group of Herts & Essex youngsters.’ – Herts and Essex Observer

‘Bearing in mind that the cast is taken largely from the local Phoenix Theatre School, I was blown away by not only the quality of the performances but the confidence that was coming off the lot of ‘em, even down to the littlest cast members.’ – MuddyStilettos

Phoenix student Kali Dronsfield led the cast playing the title role of Peter Pan; mixing boyish charm, youthful arrogance, teenage stroppyness and boundless energy very well. This was complimented by fellow Phoenix student Gabriella Morgan in her portrayal of sweet, caring and imaginative Wendy Darling and the two created a complicated and genuinely touching relationship. Phoenix Principal Phil Dale was up to his villainous ways once again playing Mr Darling in the first scene and then becoming Peter Pan’s arch enemy Captain Hook once we’d arrived at Neverland. Tinkerbell, played by Phoenix students Tegan Griffiths and Jessica Forman, who performed 5 shows each as Peter Pan’s best friend and mischievous fairy, really won the audience over and had a long queue of youngsters wanting a selfie taken with her as she came out and played with them during the interval. Drew Gregg also deserves a mention for his comical performance as Nana the dog, and also the lead puppeteer of the crocodile. With the rest of the ensemble of Lost Boys, Pirates and Indians also made up mostly with students from the Phoenix Theatre School we’d like to say a huge well done to all of them involved, as their hard work and dedication to the story really helped to entice the audience into the magical world of Neverland.

Designed by Anna Stamper in her first production working with Phoenix Theatre Arts, the set was beautiful. One reviewer said that ‘The set for the bedroom was gorgeous, with elements of it re-appearing throughout, bringing out that whole dream-like quality from the book.’ With a UV painted Indian teepee, a big set piece of a pirate ship in the second half and also a moon that hung at the back throughout most of the show, Anna’s design really helped add to the magical feeling of the show. Once again it was all lit beautifully by lighting designer Rob Dyer, and the choreography by Phoenix tutor Katie Barker-Dale was extremely strong, especially the upbeat tribal Indian number. The costumes provided by Jules Dale were vibrant and colourful, distinguishing each of the different groups in Neverland well. Directed by the Head of Phoenix Youth Theatre Jeanne Stacey, the story was both moving and funny; we know that there are thousands of people in the Bishops Stortford area that now believe in fairies!

To read the reviews, please follow the links below:

To see pictures from the show, click here.

‘Phenomenal Entertainment’ at Civic Dinner

Students from the Harlow Senior Monday evening class provided the entertainment at the Bishops Stortford Mayors Annual Civic Dinner at Rhodes Arts Complex recently. Mayor of Stortford Diane Hollebon asked Phil Dale to provide the entertainment for her annual black tie event and Phil suggested an evening of Musical Theatre.

Following a sumptuous three course sit down dinner and then some formal speeches the toastmaster introduced Phoenix to the stage. The evening kicked off with a 2 songs from My Fair Lady performed by Musical Theatre Tutor Duncan Rutherford and Candace Scott from the Rhodes Community Choir We Love 2 Sing. A group of Phoenix Students who had formed a harmony choir specifically for the event performed Let it Go from Frozen and Somebody to Love from We Will Rock You. They were Alysha Hutchings, Georgia Stringer, Reanna Austin, Rebecca Kitson, Victoria Tee, Georgia Collins, Darby Savage and Emma Kent. Intermediate drama student Alice Shepherd reprised her performance of Tomorrow from the musical Annie and the evening was completed by Lewis Russell (Tony) and Lydia McGrath (Maria) who performed numbers from the recent Phoenix production of West Side Story. All performers came together at the end to finish with a rousing version of Electricity from Billy Elliot.

Over 100 guests were at the event including many dignitaries from the local area including the Chair of Harlow Council Ian Beckett who later tweeted “Phenomenal entertainment from @PhoenixTSchool at Bishops Stortford Civic Dinner”.

A huge well done to all those involved in ensuring that Phoenix upholds its reputation as the region’s most exciting and innovative performing arts school.

To watch the performance of Tonight, please click here.

To watch the performance of Tomorrow, please click here.

To watch the performance of Somebody To Love, please click here.

To watch the performance of Let It Go, please click here.

To watch the performance of Electricity, please click here.

October 6, 2014

West Side Story At The Rhodes

by Conor O'Sullivan

in Productions

Phoenix Autumn musical is our most critically acclaimed show yet!

West Side Story didn’t break any box office records at the Rhodes (it didn’t sell as many tickets as Annie did last year). However, one thing we can be sure of is that everyone who came to see it left having watched a show to remember. The audience feedback and comments were overwhelming in their praise and we received more emails and social media comments than for any previous Phoenix production. One woman emailed in to say:

‘I can safely say that without making ANY allowances yours was the best performance of the show I have ever seen and the only one that I have felt has really done justice to this wonderful, but very difficult piece.’

The staff at the Rhodes dealt with many audience members leaving the auditorium after the show only to go and book tickets to come and see it again, and the feedback we recieved on social media was unanimous in it’s admiration for the production.

‘WHAT A FANTASTIC PRODUCTION!!!!!!! What a superb cast – brilliant!!’

‘Congratulations to all the cast last night, that was by far the best production of West Side I have ever seen.’

‘Absolutely amazing! Extremely talented cast and production team!’

West Side Story is usually seen as a mainly dance focused musical, and so in professional productions professional dancers in their mid-twenties are cast, but right from the outset Director Phil Dale knew that wouldn’t be achievable. However with a young cast, all the right age for the characters, the story becomes much more realistic, more believable. Even with a relatively young and untrained cast, choreographer Katie Barker-Dale did a wonderful job with the dance numbers, with the ballet dream sequence section being one of the audience’s highlights of the show. She also managed to get the Jet boys to dance better than even they would have ever believed possible in ‘Cool’, an outstanding achievement for both them and her! With a set created by Malvern Hostick and Trevor Pavely, the centerpieces being a pivoting balcony and a wire fence that moved towards the front of the stage for the rumble, lit beautifully once again by Rob Dyer, and a whole show’s worth of costumes sourced by Jules Dale, the production looked spectacular.

‘Well worth an evening out. A great musical, great voices, beautiful to hear.’

‘A great performance by all, singing truly amazing! Can’t wait to see it again.’

A special mention must go to the 2 sets of leads who took on the daunting roles of Tony and Maria and delivered technically complex vocal performances night after night. Tom Dickerson (18) and Lydia McGrath (15) set the standard early on, performing the lead roles 4 times out of the first 6 shows, whilst Lewis Russell (15) and Abbie Middleton (17) ensured the great reviews kept rolling in during the second half of the run.

‘I just could not believe I was seeing and hearing 15 and 16-year-olds performing at this level of technical perfection.’

Lots of hard work went into this production, both from the members of the production team to every single performer out on the stage. To know that we managed to tell a story that profoundly moved people and surprised them by exceeding their expectations is enough reward for all the hard work. So thank you to everyone involved, thank you to everyone who came to see the show, and we hope to see you all over Christmas for Dick Whittington!


Read the press review here



September 2, 2014

Somethings Coming, Something Good!

by Conor O'Sullivan

in Productions

Only two weeks until West Side Story begins its run at the Rhodes

West Side Story is one of the most famous musicals around. Written by Arthur Laurents, with the music and lyrics written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, it is inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The two feuding families are replaced by brawling street gangs. The Montagues become the American Jets, led by Riff, and the Capulets become the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Bernardo. At a dance, Tony, former leader of the Jets and Riff’s best friend, and Maria, Bernardo’s little sister, see each other across the room and it’s love at first sight. With opposition from both sides, they meet secretly and their love grows deeper. However, the gangs are plotting one last rumble, a fight that will finally end the battle for control of the streets. Will Tony and Maria’s love carry through a battle that threatens to destroy the people they love around them?

Directed by Phoenix Principle Phil Dale, choreographed by Katie Barker-Dale and with musical direction from Will Joy, Phoenix Theatre Arts hopes to continue the success of the summer show slot, after Oliver! in 2012 and Annie last year. The adult characters in the musical will be played by some familiar faces on the Rhodes stage, such as Kevin Lacey playing Doc and Ritchie Parrott playing Officer Krupke, who both last performed at the Rhodes in Oliver! Jay Brown, who was Fatima in Cinderella and Rooster in Annie, returns to play Lieutenant Shrank.

Due to the difficulty of the music in the show and the strain it could put on voices, there will be two Tony’s and two Maria’s who will share the run doing 6 shows each. Lewis Russell and Abbie Middleton-Evans are both making their Rhodes debut, and Tom Dickerson and Lydia McGrath take part in their first Phoenix Theatre Arts production after last performing at the Rhodes in the Bishops Stortford Musical Theatre Company Juniors production of Grease. Sam Jackson was also in that production, and now takes the part of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks with his girlfriend Anita, played by Amber Thomason. Ben Hawkins, who played Prince Charming in the record breaking pantomime Cinderella returns to play Riff, the leader of the Jets.

With an extremely talented cast of local young people, this is a show you won’t want to miss!

To book your tickets, click here

Or, phone the Box Office on 01279 710 200.

February 3, 2014

Harlow Showcases 2014

by Conor O'Sullivan

in Showcases

Dates confirmed for this year’s Phoenix Theatre School Harlow Showcases!

The dates and times of this years Phoenix Showcases are as follows. All this information has already been e-mailed out, so make sure you don’t miss any!

Intermediate & Senior Showcase (Studio Theatre)

Thursday 6th March:        Technical Rehearsal                         (5pm to 10pm)

Friday 7th March:              Show 2                                                 (7:45pm)

Saturday 8th March:         Show 3                                                 (7:45pm)

£10 All Seats

Book Tickets Here

Primary Showcase (Studio Theatre)

Saturday 8th March:         Technical Rehearsal                         (9:30am to 1:30pm)

Saturday 8th March:         Show 1                                                 (2:30pm)

Saturday 8th March:         Show 2                                                 (4:30pm)

Sunday 9th March:            Show 3                                                 (6:30pm)

£9 All Seats

Book Tickets Here


Whole School Showcase (Main Auditorium)

Sunday 15th June:             Technical Rehearsal                        (10am to 6pm)

Monday 16th June:           Show 1                                                 (7:30pm)

Tuesday 17th June:           Show 2                                                 (7:30pm)

£14 Tickets (£12 Concession)


November 27, 2013

Phoenix Glee at the Grand Final!

Big day for Phoenix finalists! Another year, another exciting day at the Indig02 for this years Phoenix Glee members! After getting through their Regional Final, Phoenix, along with the nine other teams of Glee finalists, performed in the Grand Final of the Jack Petchey Glee Club Challenge 2013 on Sunday 24th November. The event was […]

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October 14, 2013

Phoenix Autumn Musical Smashes Box Office Records – Again!

All sunshine and smiles as Annie takes the Rhodes by storm After the resounding success of the Phoenix Theatre Arts production of Oliver! last year, expectations were high as Annie kicked off the new theatre season at the Rhodes. And it didn’t disappoint. With Oliver! impressively taking just under £24,000 at the box office last […]

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