Curtain call at High School Musical as academy sings goodbye to director
PUBLISHED: 13:26 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 10 July 2019
As the curtains closed on this year's final perfomance at Fakenham Academy, students and staff teared up more than an average closing night. Of course for some, this was not an average closing night.
The school's production was sold out on Friday and Saturday nights, as actors of all ages took to the stage for their version of hit film High School Musical. After 14 years at the school, drama teacher Jennifer Hart had come full circle, directing her final production as she had a decade ago.
"Back then, I had never directed and we only had some staff with a vague interest in helping. It has grown since then because people said hang on, this is really good, and given it the time."
After giving her thanks, Mrs Hart was surprised by a moving reprise from past productions. Performers from past years made their way back to the stage, singing alongside this year's cast, for a blast of some favourite songs from the last ten years.
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The audience were visibly moved, as were staff and students. They ended with a standing ovation cheering huge, filling whoops of appreciation, as students ran into a large group hug for the director.
Mrs Hart thanked the crew, her mother, and all the students, but pointed out three in particular: stage manager Sophie Brown, choreographer India Ellis and musician Kaira Bundock. Miss Bundock played Kelsi Nielsen, composer of the musical within High School Musical, as well as arranging music for the the final tribute to Mrs Hart.
In her thanks, Mrs Hart repeatedly compared herself to Ms Darbus, the show's fictional drama teacher played by Tegan George. The character sits in a chair marked with Mrs Hart's name throughout, encouraging school students to practice at any moment they can.
Prinipal Richard Evans compared this to how he would often leave the school late, only to find the cast still rehearsing. "This has been a year-long effort, and it feels like everybody came together for this.
"The story reflects why we do this, to break inhibitions and make sure people know their should be no limit to their ambition."
Mrs Hart said "Every single one of the students have had so much fun, and their dedication to rehearsals shows it. They've been phenomenal, and the whole thing has been joyous".