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April 03rd 2017

The Greatest Show on Earth!

Outside Cobham Hall the sun is shining and there is an abandoned air.  The girls have left for the Easter break and yet there are vague noises from deep within the building.

Somewhere someone is preparing lunch, somewhere beds are being made and baths are being cleaned. Birdsong can be heard around the grounds, and there’s the soft hum of the lawnmower.  But oh, the contrast from the last few days of term!  Cobham Hall was transformed; alive with colour.  Red and green and gold abounded! There was more than a whiff of greasepaint in the air and the hurdy-gurdy sounds of a circus calliope echoed through the stone walls as the girls turned their school into a circus complete with a fairground in order to tell the story of Phineas Taylor Barnum the self-crowned ‘Prince of Humbug’!  For it was time, once again, for the School Production to roll into town.

Brought to the West End in the 1980s by Michael Crawford and to Broadway by Jim Dale, the musical “Barnum” is a challenging undertaking for any group of performers. The Cobham Hall girls brought enthusiasm and professionalism to the show.  Director Mrs Gough had a vision of “Barnum” that the girls strove to realise, supported unfailingly by Head of Music Ms Clements, Voice and Piano Tutor Mr Haas,  Drama teacher Miss Boyle, Tutor of Musical Theatre and Communication Miss Elliot, and teaching assistant Mrs Balson.

Behind the scenes, lights were handled by a team of girls overseen by Mr Hillier.  And for those girls not directly involved in the production, in true Cobham Hall style, there was still the chance to take part.

Audiences attending early were delighted by all the fun of the fair. Under the direction of Miss Lambert, a team of girls were on hand to awe the crowd, from unicycling to bubble-making, hook-a-duck to hoopla, there was plenty of enjoyment on West Lawn before the show.  The girls had even painted their own face cut-out board for people to take photos.  Guests were able to stock up on popcorn and candyfloss, before taking their seats.

Circus skills, a monumentally talented group of young people and an elaborate set – largely thanks to our carpenter, Mr Holdoway, who built Circus Rostra,  a piano on wheels, and not least a giant roll-along elephant!  Mr Holdoway also created the Hall of Mirrors in the Fairground.  He and the Maintenance team crew embodied the spirit of co-operation. Without them “Barnum” would not have had its zip and zing.

On stage, the girls were all magnificent.  Tilly, our Barnum, displayed consummate professionalism, energy crackling through every line and note.  Bonnie oozed charm as the ever-faithful Chairy, and Evie stole the moment with her comic timing.  Vocal prowess abounded with star turns from Maisy as Tom Thumb, Lucy as Joice Heth, Britta as Blues Singer, and our Ring Masters April, Hannah, Britta and Lucy.  All supported by excellent performances from the whole cast, including our young guest performers.

Well done to all involved!

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