A Christmas feast at Dunluce

The cast and crew of Christmas, past and present.

The cast and crew of Christmas, past and present.

Recently Dunluce School celebrated the Christmas season with a festival of dance, drama and song.

In a break from tradition the Bushmills school chose not to put on an established musical as their annual school show, but instead performed an original show written by members of the cast and inspired by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

The Cratchit Family (Liam Wallace, Casey-Leigh Leighton, William McFarland, Jill Carmichael and Timothy Parke)

The Cratchit Family (Liam Wallace, Casey-Leigh Leighton, William McFarland, Jill Carmichael and Timothy Parke)

Keith Cassidy, a final year student who co wrote the script, explained “Our play, ‘Christmas Past and Present’, saw us perform scenes from the original ‘Christmas Carol’ and our very own modern take where I played George Scrooge - an ancestor of Ebeneezer Scrooge.”

The show incorporated dance, from very traditional Irish dancing and ballet to contemporary dance. This was choreographed by PE teacher, Lisa McElwee-Muldoon, and she was pleased with the audience reaction, “It was great listening to the ‘ahhs’ from the audience as Louise [Gault] did her ballet moves change to gasps as the girls did their acrobatics in the contemporary routine.”

The dance, along with songs performed by a variety of soloists and the school choir, lead the audience through the ages as we moved seamlessly from the Victorian London habitat of the original Scrooge, played with suitable malevolence by Luke Taylor, to a modern world of consumerism and greed. This time Scrooge’s great great great grand nephew, George, was played by Keith Cassidy,

“For the past two or three years now, I’ve been involved with the Christmas shows here at Dunluce behind the scenes, but for the first time and the last - I took a character on stage.

The Bergan Family (Nicole Laven, Charly Waddell and Rebecca Moore)

The Bergan Family (Nicole Laven, Charly Waddell and Rebecca Moore)

“There’s one thing I love about our shows we do here at Dunluce every year, and that’s the bonds and friendships that are created in rehearsals, and of course the good old school spirit and enthusiasm about our school which is shown by everyone involved. It was a pleasure to work with so many pupils (and members of staff!) on my last show at Dunluce and it’s something that I’ll never ever forget through the rest of my life.”

Many pupils and teachers were involved in many different roles from the stage team to the makeup. English teacher, Sam Campbell, who designed the stage lighting, described the importance of this collaboration, “The thing that has never changed in the Dunluce productions is the close cooperation between the pupils and staff involved in the show. We rely on each other and have to trust one another completely. This year was no different. As a staff we put our faith in our pupils, and once again they delivered.”

Year 12 pupil, Luke Taylor agreed: “The good thing about a school show is that it allows us to show what we are capable of achieving when given the opportunity. The teachers support and belief in us gave us the belief in ourselves”

Music teacher, David Lutton, was pleased with how his pupils performed, “I enjoyed seeing pupils have the opportunity to perform in public and seeing pupils grow in confidence.  My lasting memory will be of a girl singing 2 solos who only a few months ago was too scared to sing in front of 5 people in my room.”

And director, Mrs Moore, was similarly proud of her actors, describing the production as “a fresh delight to be  involved with from start to finish - the themes that Charles Dickens presented to us are still so relevant in today’s world. I feel that drama, music and dance were highly appropriate ways to show these themes and issues in their classic and original form with a modern twist too. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. We received amazing feedback from our audiences and an unforgettable experience for all the pupils and teachers involved with the show”

The show was seen by a large crowd; the hall was filled three times over with two matinee performances for local primary schools, and an evening performance for family and friends. They all went home not only thoroughly entertained, but with a thought provoking message about how we celebrate this special season. We can all learn something from the Scrooges – Ebeneezer and George.