A warming West End winter from Cramlington students

Abigail Simpson and Sophie Butler

Songs from musical theatre favourites – including Les Miserables, Wicked and The Lion King – provided a pre-Christmas treat for the families of talented Cramlington Learning Village students.

A West End Winter also featured folk songs played by brothers and sister Josh, Oliver and Holly Davenport, classical and popular music performed by a group of flautists and ensemble dance routines delivered with gusto by the school’s Music and Theatre Productions team.

Although there were no traditional Christmas carols or songs, there was plenty of tinsel on display and – to provide a feel of West Indian warmth on a cold December night – the audience was greeted by steel band music from the Cramlington Caribbean Crew.
“I’m so proud of everybody who took part,” said the school’s head of drama Zoe Dyer. “They’ve been working hard and practising since September and it certainly paid off.”

The show finished with songs from The Lion King, led by 16-year-old Sophie Butler who – along with her friend Abigail Simpson – has appeared in every production since they joined the school. “We just love it. There was nothing else I would rather do,” said Year 12 student Abigail. “When the lights go down and everybody goes silent that’s when it kicks in,” said Sophie.

Away from school Sophie is a member of stage and dancing schools and would like to pursue her performing talents to the highest possible level. “If I’m not being too ambitious I would like to get to the West End. That would be amazing for me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s always been a big part of my life.”

To help her achieve her goal, Sophie is thinking of applying for a place at one of the country’s top stage schools – RADA, The Academy of Performing Arts and the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. “Even if nothing ever came of it, I’ve got to say that I tried,” she said.

Abigail plans to continue performing. “I could never imagine not doing it,” she said. “Although they are two totally different things, the confidence I have from being on stage has definitely helped when I have to speak out in class.”

Sophie said she used to suffer badly from nerves and would not sing in front of people. “The nerves never stop, but coming to the school and doing all these things has helped my so much. The nerves show that you care.”

After Christmas Sophie and Abigail and the rest of the Music and Theatre Productions team start preparing for their next show – Grease – which will be performed on 17, 18 and 19 March 2016.