29 November 2023

School production to put new spin on Christmas classic

By Tim Nuttall

The members of Withernsea High School’s creative arts community are busy putting the finishing touches to a festive production that puts a new spin on a Christmas classic.

A Seussified Christmas Carol is a whimsical reinvention of Charles Dickens’ beloved Christmas story using wacky rhyming couplets, imaginative characters and strikingly colourful imagery in the style of famed American children’s author, Dr Seuss.

Based on a script by American playwright and professor of theatre, Peter Bloedel, the basic concept of the show sees the reinvention of A Christmas Carol’s classic narrative into a dynamic and magical theatrical performance.

Since publication in 2011, the show’s script, both in its full-length and abridged one-
act versions, has resulted in more than 750 performances worldwide across the far-flung reaches of Australia, America, China and Malaysia. However, Withernsea High School’s production will mark only the fourth time a version of the show has been performed in the UK.

In what promises to be a unique retelling, the script has been adapted by the creative arts team to incorporate music alongside spoken word, transforming the show from a straight play into a dance theatre production.

The soundtrack has been carefully selected to complement the narrative on stage, while celebrating the best of the festive season through a mixture of classic and contemporary Christmas songs.

Meanwhile, for the school’s Year 11 students, the performance has also been engineered to act as a study aid to complement their work in English, where A Christmas Carol features as a chosen text in their GCSE literature studies.

Jamie Hughes, head of creative arts, said: “Our version of A Seussified Christmas Carol has allowed us to use artistic licence to incorporate dance, drama, art and music to create a bespoke performance that will showcase all disciplines of the creative arts.

“We are particularly excited to give prominence to our talented drama students who, in some cases, will be taking to the stage for the first time.

“Performance opportunities such as these offer invaluable experience in helping to build students’ confidence by bringing them out of their shells and helping to teach them valuable life skills that can be transferred to other experiences, both in and out of school.”

The forthcoming show marks the second production in nine months for the school’s cohort of dedicated performers, who last took to the stage in March for a triumphant return to live performance with their dance show The New Normal – a production inspired by the pandemic.

A Seussified Christmas Carol highlights the continuing evolution of the school’s dance shows which, in recent years, have developed to include elements of acting and singing. For the dancers themselves, this has brought both excitement and new challenges to their own performance.

Mrs Hughes added: “Our move away from a traditional dance show format has been welcomed positively by our dance students and I’m proud of the way they have adapted and embraced this change.

“From a technical perspective, they have had to learn how to take cues from dialogue and acting movements on stage which has given them an insight into the world of musical theatre.

“The launch of our creative arts faculty reunited the subjects of dance, music, drama and art and we have been delighted to offer opportunities for students to explore these disciplines individually, as well as collaboratively.”

As the faculty continues to flourish, an ever-increasing number of events and productions are also in the pipeline, including a planned March production of High School Musical – a stage adaptation of the hugely popular 2006 musical film.

A Seussified Christmas Carol takes place at Middleton Hall, the University of Hull, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, December 14.

Tickets for the event, priced £6.50, are on sale now from ticketsource.co.uk/middleton-hall.