Exceptional performance of ‘Zorro the Musical’ Wows Audiences
There was a palpable buzz from the moment the audience was ushered in on opening night for the Senior School production of ‘Zorro the Musical’. The performers approached the production with infectious energy, joy and skill, immersing the audience in the vivid tale of tyranny and resistance. The band, led by Mr Jonathan Soman and made up of a talented group of students and staff, did a fantastic job of capturing the excitement of 1800s California from the second the audience took their seats.
The performance opened with inspired performances from Molly Postlethwaite, Isabelle Fawcett and Kieran Lilley as ‘Young Ramon’, ‘Diego’ and ‘Luisa’, which conveyed the fraught dynamic between the trio from the beginning. The flashback scenes between the three younger characters as the plot intensified provided real poignancy, and all three should be commended for captivating performances. As ‘Zorro’, George Jasper’s return to the RGS Senior School stage was a triumph. ‘Diego De la Vega’s’ opening introduction through a vibrant group performance immediately established the arch of the production’s hero as he finds himself thrown into the role of people’s champion.
The performance of the ensemble stood out here, and dues should be paid to Mrs Sarah Thompson as Choreographer and Mrs Claire Spencer as Vocal Director. The colourful ensemble pieces and powerful vocal performances were integral to the sense of excitement the production generated, and a clear testament to the hard work and skill of the performers.
Also helping to ground ‘Diego De la Vega’s’ more jubilant moments and inherent sense of fun were the more sombre moments of resistance, such as those from Oliver Tibbets, Charlie Raven and Lexie Hubbard, who play three citizens of the pueblo condemned for their resistance to ‘Ramon’s’ autocratic rule. The atmosphere of desperation and outrage created by the ensemble in these scenes was moving, and perfectly set up the excitement of the moment we see the masked ‘Zorro’ sweep onstage for the first time. The scene also enabled George Jasper to showcase a wide range of talent, from an enthralling vocal performance to exciting swordplay routines, which stand clear testament to the hard work Mrs Jill Witcomb’s cast have put in on a challenging production.
Olivia Neale as ‘Luisa’, in her final Senior School Production, provided a wonderful complement to Zorro’s revolutionary zeal, and the production did a brilliant job of presenting ‘Luisa’ as a champion of the people in her own right. From the moment of ‘Luisa’s’ fraught reunion with ‘Diego’, Olivia Neale provided some of the most compelling moments of triumph in the play, as well as some of the most poignant scenes. The evolution of her relationship with other characters was a particular high point, as a tense acceptance of Catherine Broadbent’s ‘Inez’ develops into a heart-warming understanding, only to end in the pathos of ‘Inez’s’ conclusion in Act Two.
Alongside the excitement of the climactic confrontation with ‘Ramon’, and some skilful swordplay of her own, the performance of ‘Luisa’ included heart-rendering scenes which highlighted the personal impact of ‘Ramon’s’ tyranny. The challenging scene where ‘Luisa’s’ costume is changed into a wedding dress onstage was executed seamlessly, showcasing the skill of both the costume department and the stage management, allowing Olivia Neale to focus wholly on her moving vocal performance throughout. Helena Stockford-Parsons did a fantastic job in her role as stage manager here, pulling off some truly magical theatrical moments seamlessly.
The transitions between the rousing resistance from ‘Luisa’ and ‘Diego’ and the dastardly machinations of Lower Sixth’s William Hulbert as Ramon were a real highlight of the production. The role enabled William Hulbert to showcase an impressive range of performative skills, moving from inspired flashes of comedy to terrifying outbursts of anger, which perfectly captured ‘Ramon’s’ autocratic power. William Hulbert was so successful in this role that the opening night ovation met him with spontaneous boos from the audience as well as rapturous applause, which attested to his compelling performance of a delightfully malevolent villain.
In standing against ‘Ramon’, it would be remiss not to credit Catherine Broadbent’s brilliant performance of ‘Inez’ in her second Senior School performance, where her powerful vocal and dance performances were essential to the real excitement the production generated. Catherine Broadbent created a wonderful rapport with the audience from the offset, which was perfectly complemented by Callum Lockett’s Sergeant Garcia. In his sixth Senior School performance, Callum Lockett provided skilfully calculated comedy, as well as unexpected moments of pathos as the drama reaches its height in the second act. Together, ‘Inez’ and ‘Sergeant Garcia’ provided an engaging comic duo.
It was a joy to see the opening night of ‘Zorro’, and Mrs Jill Witcomb as Artistic Director, as well as her exceptionally talented cast and crew, should be commended on a fantastic performance.
Huge congratulations must go to everyone involved for a triumphant production!