A reflection: Pennant Hills High School Presents Annie

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, I’ve been so busy with various productions and I thought now would be a good time to stop and reflect.

I have always enjoyed working in theatre, but it has only been the past couple of years that I have really discovered the importance of theatre in my life. I have just finished directing Annie at Pennant Hills High School, which will probably my last school production. This production involved over 150 students from various schools and finished with a total audience of over 4000 people.

Although I’ve worked on various productions which look and feel far more professional, the final product of a school production is far more enriching than what could possibly be viewed by an off-the-street audience.

My general philosophy as a director is “Every person is essential but no more important than the production’s entire” and that could not be more evident throughout this production. There have been no egos, no complaints and no divas; everyone has worked together to build this amazing machine.

When I was in Year 8 I was sent to room 323 (the music room) and was asked to sing “Advance Australia Fair” for two mysterious teachers with whom I wasn’t at all familiar. The next thing I knew, I had been cast as Issachar in Pennant Hills High School’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and those mysterious people turned out to be Chris Nugent (Musical Director) and Helen Springer (Director). I didn’t have any real performing experience and wasn’t really involved with extra-curricular activities, but all of a sudden I was practising my singing, learning how to construct set pieces and actually socialising with students from other year groups.

I became aware of this world of education that exists beyond the classroom and fourteen years later I am proud now to provide students with the opportunity to develop practical and creative skills that they will value for the rest of their lives.

When I was in Joseph I remember hearing about a young girl from Pennant Hills Primary who had a similar auditioning experience, where she was picked up from school by a mysterious woman (Helen Springer) and taken to this High School and asked to sing in front of a group of strangers. That girl, Laura Sheldon ended up directing Grease for Pennant Hills High School in 2007 and is now our choreographer for this show. Her musical theatre knowledge and experience have really been an asset to this production and I thank her for all her hard work and patience. Laura has brought warmth and heart to this show and been a huge support for the students and for me as well.

The heart of this production has well and truly been Slade Blanch. In his first production with Pennant Hills High School, Slade played a munchkin and a tormented poppy. Now, five years later, he is performing in a lead role, has designed and constructed an amazing set as well as been a huge support as Assistant Director for me during this production. Slade is destined to have a career in the theatre world. His passion and commitment to the stage is something that I personally find inspiring.

Much work has gone into this production from many people and I would like to thank all of those involved, especially the parents who have supported their talented children throughout this whole process.

The past 4 shows I have directed at Pennant Hills High School have been so rewarding and I hold them so close to my heart. I have made lifelong friends, learnt so much about myself and the power of performance and I encourage anyone who cares about the value of theatre to get involved with a school production at some point in their lives.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Tony Rudd says:

    Well written Courtney. I know those productions mean as much to the school as they do to you. Joseph was also my first Penno production and each one since has been so special. Congrats to all.

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