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A yellow brick road leads to Emerald City at a Derby school

26/03/2024

Theatrical pupils are preparing to enjoy the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd when they follow the yellow brick road to the stage.

Pupils at Derby Cathedral School, in Great Northern Road, are putting on a performance of the Wizard of Oz as the 1939 classic movie marks its 85th anniversary this year.

It is the first major performance staged by the school, which opened in 2018, and is part of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust.

Derby Cathedral School pupils rehearsing for the Wizard of Oz

Dorothy actress Chloe Hayhurst, 13, is no stranger to the stage after appearing in shows at the Brewhouse Arts Centre, in Burton, and Derby Theatre, as well as being a keen dancer.

The Year 9 pupil said: “It feels really good to be the lead role but also very stressful. I didn’t expect to get the part of Dorothy and it has been a bit tricky learning all of her lines.

“It’s really good to put on such a big performance to show off the talent that they have here in the school.”

Year 11 pupil Grace Young, 16, who plays the Cowardly Lion, said: “It’s a lot of pressure and the costume is very warm but it’s a lot of fun as well. I’m lucky that I’m the last to be introduced so I have less lines but it’s nice to play an important role.

“I was hoping to get the Lion and I think they had me in mind for it but it wasn’t definite. I do hope to pursue acting, but it’s a hobby at the minute.”

Year 11 pupil Harrison Quenby, 15, is taking on the role of the Scarecrow in search of a brain. He has found it has been more the stage direction that has challenged him, rather than learning the lines.

He said: “I’m all right on the stage as I don’t really get public embarrassment. I’m thinking of taking up drama as more of a hobby, but I think it’s a good skill to have.

“It is important for public speaking and presenting which is a big thing to be able to do. Even if I don’t go into acting, it comes in handy.”

Year 9 pupil Ennis McMahon, 14, who plays the Tin Man in need of a heart, said: “I auditioned for the Tin Man as I feel I can represent that character the best. He resonates for me, so I went for the role and got it.

“I’ve been quite successful in drama. I think I’ll be nervous beforehand, but they won’t get in my way. I think it’ll go well.

“I definitely want to go into the film industry as that’s my passion and I know a lot about it. I’ve done small performances before but this is my first big one.”

Director and drama teacher Alex Wrampling is looking forward to seeing all the hard work pay off on opening night.

She said: “The show is a great ensemble piece which was exactly what we wanted and it offers plenty of opportunities for the students to play different characters. There is a lot of excitement and buzz around the school for the play.

“It all comes down to the finer details but it’s looking really good so far and the costumes are really helping to bring the characters to life. The majority of our costumes and props have been hand-made by the incredibly talented staff, using a minimum of 75 percent recycled fabrics and materials.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the pupils and I’m really proud of them. I hope that their families, staff and friends are proud too and can see all the hard work these young people have put into it.”

Headteacher Jenny Brown said: “We are really excited to be putting on our first school show and we can’t wait for our parents, carers and community to come and see the fabulous work our students have been doing.”

This story was written and shared on behalf of Derby Diocesan Academy Trust by Jenny Moody. Can we share your news and get you in the headlines too? Find out how we can help by getting in touch.

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