A packed Stahl Theatre audience in Oundle delighted in a thrilling, heart-pounding and at times chilling production of Sweeney Todd, appropriately timed to coincide with Halloween.
The multi-talented George Smale (17) directed a gifted cast from Oundle School’s Laundimer House in Christopher Bond’s stage adaptation, whilst also depicting the brooding and menacing central figure of Sweeney Todd himself.
Director of the Stahl Theatre, Naomi Jones, commented, “George portrayed the role with considerable deftness and assurance. He was accompanied by the excellent Emma Kemsley-Pein (18) as sidekick and would be wife, Mrs Lovett and together they were compelling as the bloodthirsty duo plotting and expediting the destruction of the Beadle and Judge Turpin.”
Whilst the names Smale and Kemsley-Pein are surely ones to watch in the future, this was by no means just a star vehicle for two central performers. There was great strength in depth from the fourteen piece cast. Stand out performances also came in the form of Alexander Hobill’s (14) wonderfully cheeky, if somewhat naïve Tobias and George Carmichael’s (16) unsettlingly lecherous Judge. The young lovers, Johanna and Anthony, were played with real tenderness and warmth by Sarah Wells (16) and Josh Shepherd-Smith (15), who will take on the role of Romeo in a production later in the Quarter.
Naomi added, “A special mention must go to Ollie Starling (15) who composed and performed original music for the production. This live piano score provided an eerie and atmospheric soundscape which brilliantly supported the gothic style of the piece.”
Pupil director George Smale, who also played the part of Sweeney Todd himself, commented, “I immediately adored this thrilling tale, packed with dark wit and melodramatic action. The cast put a huge amount of time and effort into their performances and I enjoyed working with each and every one of them. I gave them modern equivalents of their characters so they had someone they could relate to and observe. I worked with every cast member individually, discussing their characters characteristics and mannerisms. In the rehearsal process I did various exercises that would help them to understand their objectives and to humanise their characters.”
George is currently applying for a place at Drama School after he completes his A level studies at Oundle.
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015.
There are currently 1110 pupils are on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.