Quotes from the student cast and crew

Performers

“The musical is such a nice round off for the end of the year. All of your hard work and everything you’ve learnt you can put into practice in one big production. Its such a good opportunity to work in that kind of team environment and with professionals like Jessica Beck and Phil Hornsey who have been out there and know what the industry’s like and can share their pearls of wisdom with us and show us what we should be doing in order to try and reach the level they’ve achieved. I’ve been lucky enough to play the main character two years running, two completely different characters in Millie and Freddie which has given me the opportunity to explore extreme character in depth. I have really benefitted in that regard from a director like Jessica this year, in terms of bringing that character out of me with all the techniques and assistance she gives.” – Mel Thomson (Freddie Trumper)


“Being involved in musicals is what ideally I would like to do for the majority of my future career. Last year I was busy with work, otherwise I certainly would have been involved in my first year as well. This year I made sure I prioritised myself better, because I really regretted missing out. I actually came to see a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar here while I was in sixth form and that experience made me want to come to Christ Church and be part of it all. After being in Chess this year there is no doubt that I will be involved in my final year. It’s been an intense experience, but I’ve really loved it.  It is probably the best performing experience of my life so far.”  – Mollie King (Florence Vassey)


“I was shocked both last year and this to be given a principal role. I would have been more than happy just being in the ensemble so felt very lucky. Last time, I’d only had one teaching block of vocal training in my first year so I was very nervous. It was the first time I had ever sung on stage in front of an audience, but ultimately it was such a brilliant experience I just wanted to be involved again this year. Chess was much more of a challenge as the singing lines are much lower in my register, but it has really increased my vocal range and it’s great to know now that I am capable of that. The moment the audience gives that applause, you know it’s something you want to be doing for the rest of your life because you’ve given them something they’ve enjoyed and I wouldn’t have had that experience without the musical.” – Jessica Ratcliffe (The Arbiter)


“I had always wanted to be involved in the musical in my first
and second years, but I was almost too anxious to go for it as a music student because I thought there was a dedicated programme suited to it in performing arts. However, with this year being my last opportunity I thought I’d just try an audition and see what happened. Ultimately I got the role and then I was even more nervous. As a foreign student I’ve never done a completely English-speaking or English-sung show like Chess. However, I’ve really enjoyed it. The chance to get to know new people and learn a completely new production from scratch, the revelations of the story as the lyrics begin to make sense to you as you learn more about the plot through them is exciting. It’s given me a great perspective of what doing musical theatre professionally would be like, which is really helpful when considering my options upon leaving University this summer. I would encourage others not to be scared of auditioning and go for it in their first year because they’ll have a great time.”  – Ugnė Dailidonytė (Alexandra Molokova)


“This has been a fun experience; it’s my first musical, there have been ups and downs, but that’s what the process would be like in the real world. I would definitely get involved again. I would encourage anyone to get involved, even if they are unsure, they will love it by the end. It boosts confidence and will look good on your CV. I’m really proud in my first year here to have been given a principal role.” – Declan McCoy (Walter De Courcey)

 


“The musical is the only chance we get in the performing arts to put on a full production, as such its so worthwhile. Chess has been great because Anatoly is a very complex character for me to play, it’s a big vocal challenge. The context of the story is also interesting and different due to the East-West political division involved. I’ve been involved in all three musicals in my time here and I wouldn’t change that.” – Rob Connor (Anatoly Sergievsky)

 


“The musical is a great way for students of all years across all programmes to get together and incorporate their love for the arts into one production. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends and just enjoy the experience of performing live nightly. I personally love Chess, it’s been a bit different compared to the other musicals we’ve done because it’s an all-sung show. My absolute favourite will always be Cabaret because it was in my first year, but Chess comes close. However, being part of all three shows has been a really great experience that I wouldn’t have missed for anything and I would encourage others to get involved every year that they’re at Christ Church.” – Ayla Wessels (Svetlana Sergievsky)


“The musical is the first taste of professional work that we as students get to embrace. Every student that gets this opportunity, whether you’re ensemble, principal or backstage should grab it. It brings out skills in people that they may not have known they had. Its allowing people to create and find those new pathways they never thought they’d explore. In addition working with such a broad group of people you really do become a family with the whole team and not just the cast.” – Hannah Rothwell (Ensemble)


“I love musicals. This is the first I’ve done at Christ Church, but have been involved in others outside of the University. It’s such hard work, but so exciting. You have to learn to work as a team, you can’t do anything for yourself otherwise it won’t be a success. Chess is very interesting because it’s different, it’s not your stereotypically glitzy musical, it’s got more weight and I feel it appeals to a more diverse group of people.” – Eloise Ramsdale (Ensemble)


“I’ve never done the musical before and haven’t really auditioned for anything before. So I thought I’d give myself the challenge. It was a really nervewracking experience but I’m glad I did it because it gave me so much confidence. And I’ve really enjoyed doing Chess, being a part of what is a fantastic cast is amazing. Having done it this year, I will definitely audition for next. ” – Jade Moss (Ensemble)


Being in the musical has always been the highlight of my year and I like being able to work with all the different programmes and be involved in something that allows me to perform in all three disciplines at once (acting/singing/dancing). I find it a really safe environment to begin to learn what it would be like to work in the industry and I like that. Chess has been interesting due to its political background because it really resonates with us due to the current real political climate including Brexit and Trump’s presidency.” – Nicola Newton (Ensemble)


“For me the musical experience is different because I don’t study any music or performing arts, it is just a hobby for me. I actually study Forensic Investigation. So it’s really interesting for me to be involved with this side of the university because I wasn’t aware that MPA offered a full-scale musical until last year when I auditioned. In that show and again in Chess everyone has been so friendly and inclusive. I knew nobody going into these experiences but they’ve been so much fun and to get involved in, doing something that most people on my degree would never do. If MPA did not offer the musical as a yearly performance, I would never have had the opportunity to do anything like this. There is no society here that can put on something of this size so I’m really grateful to be involved.” – Kirsty Woolven (Ensemble)


I’m in my second year now and will definitely do the musical again in my third. Musical theatre isn’t currently a module option on our actual course so being able to do the end of year production is a change for us to employ singing, acting and dancing skills all in one place and it’s so much fun. Chess was a brave choice for us, but we’ve risen to it.” – Rosie Bright (Ensemble)


“The musical brings everyone together, especially if you are in your first year here. It’s a really good idea to be involved to get to know people and it gives the opportunity for students in older year groups to see you perform, which means that they may consider auditioning you to be a part of their work. This year I’m performing but I stage managed in previous years, which gives you the opportunity to get involved in both sides of a professional show. It’s helped me to figure out what I do and don’t enjoy so much and what I’d like to pursue as a career.” – Lauren Roe  (Ensemble)


“I hadn’t been in the musical before; I’d heard about it from Jessica Beck who is one of my lecturers, encouraging us to get involved. I got the enthusiasm to be a part of Chess from her and I’ve really enjoyed it. I like to do it next year if I can.” – Hope Websdale (Ensemble)

 


 

“I was in the musical last year, making me want to be involved again this year. It’s so much fun and a good experience for getting some understanding of what the industry might be like, in terms of how intense the rehearsal schedule is but also in how much you get out of it at the end. I also love the options we’re given to either be a performer or work backstage. In Chess I’ve been on stage but I might consider interviewing for stage management on next year’s production.” – Alicia Blake (Ensemble)



“The friends you make in the process of the musical are friends for life. It prepares you for when you leave university entering into the performing arts industry. If I wasn’t in my third year I would love to do it again.” – Hannah Smart (Ensemble)


 

“The musical is a great opportunity to meet new people and make important networking connections. Being in the ensemble gave me opportunities to perform in a variety of different roles. There is no doubt that I will be auditioning to get involved in every year that I’m here.” – Ben Clark (Ensemble)


Stage Management and Technical Teams

“Getting involved in the MPA musical last year was one of the best decisions I made, because you get to work with all the different departments which make up a production of this kind. Each day is different as you learn something new and the experience you gain is invaluable. Last year I was an ASM and this year I was promoted to CSM which meant for me, I was able to put all the knowledge I had gained previously and apply it to this role. It’s been a challenge but without this musical I don’t know what I would be doing, so really this musical is important as it brings you opportunities and gives you a chance to leave the year on a high. Personally, I think its vital this musical is an option each year as it gives those an insight to what it might be like to work on this discipline professionally. Being CSM has also given me encouragement to pursue work in the stage management field after uni and graduation.” – Suzi Kelly (Company Stage Manager)


“I have absolutely loved working on Chess. I grew up with the musical playing in the house when I was a kid, due to my mum being an ensemble member in the original production in Sweden and now being able to work on it myself has been an incredible experience. Not only has it been an amazing journey together with cast, crew and band and getting to know all the different students from different programmes but also for my own personal journey, boosting my self esteem. I went from crying when I saw the sound desk to controlling all thesound for the musical myself. Getting this opportunity to work on a musical at a professional level, with the same amount of hours and effort I feel is a great way to understand the theatre world and prepare students for the future in a professional environment” – Lilly Sjösvärd (Sound)


“I really wanted to be involved in Chess having been involved in Millie last year, which I really enjoyed. This year I wanted to be involved in wardrobe and make up, which is a personal interest, in addition to the fact that Theatre Design ended up being one of my favourite modules so I wanted to take the opportunity to do that in more detail. The era has been great to dress for as it was so different to Millie which was 1920s and this is relatively modern set in the early 1980s, which was fun especially for hair and makeup, researching into what would be appropriate for the time.” – Beth Stafford (Wardrobe and Set Design)


“I decided to interview to be part of the creative team for Chess to gain further experience and utilise the skills I had developed during the academic year. For me, this was an opportunity to push myself as a Director by working with a larger cast and on an a different art form – a musical. Chess is a musical which has so many elements that a collaborative approach in respect of the creative team offered a fantastic opportunity for all involved. It allowed us all to bring our strengths to the table and made discussing ideas very enjoyable. The process has been very intense but I am very proud of the hard work put in by every member of this production and what we have managed to achieve in such a short time frame. I am thankful that we have opportunities such as the University musical available to us to help provide relevant experience to all students involved.” – Lucy Steward (Associate Director)


“I’ve really enjoyed (Chess) because it’s given me the opportunity to work with a massive cast and I would love to direct professionally in the future. Working alongside Jessica Beck has been amazing, to see her way of working has taught me a lot. The whole experience has been a big learning curve. The show choice especially in this time and this era is very relevant and with the cast being of a generation that they don’t really know what happened during the Cold War it has been an education for us historically as well as theatrically.” – Ania Kapsza (Associate Director)


“Doing the end of year musical is an immersive experience because it allows student involvement in a semi-professional example of what a West End musical would look like and feel like and the processes involved and all the job roles that interlink and come together to build something special.” – George Ephgrave (Lighting)


“I really enjoy the musical. I feel I’ve gained so much experience from it. We don’t get the chance to work on musicals on our course so this kind of extracurricular activity on this type of production is vital as another form of lighting experience for me. I wouldn’t normally come in to contact with all the people I get to work with on the musical so it’s a great opportunity, which prepares us for the future.” – Clarisse Guirau (Lighting)


“The musical gives so many opportunities in all areas of theatre; stage management, lighting, sound, choreography, set design, directing, costume and obviously performing. There is something for everyone. It has given me the opportunity to be a choreographer and that is what I would like to do on leaving University and I’ve loved every minute of it.” – Charlotte Williams (Choreographer)


Orchestra

“I was involved in the musical last year as well as this year. I don’t often play in a full orchestra so it’s a really great experience for me and its lovely to perform in a way that makes you feel so appreciated. It really improves my confidence as a musician. Playing in a musical theatre production is so different to the music on my course, it’s a different skill to learn. Unlike previous shows, Chess requires us to play all the way through so it really keeps you on your toes. It’s much more intense with so many hours required to be put in for multiple performances but it’s so worthwhile at the end. “ – Becky Abel (Violin)


“I was in the musical last year but I actually think this year has been much better, as there have been more musicians prepared to get involved. Chess has been the most difficult show of the three I’ve been involved with, the standard of music is much higher, but that has been a brilliant learning experience for me as it has pushed me as a player.” – Brendan Powney (Flute)


 

 

“I transferred to Christ Church only for my third year, but I wish I would have been here for the previous two as the University has offered me so many amazing opportunities including the musical. Chess has made me more of a well-rounded musician as my course was mainly classical. Everyone has been so welcoming and I’ve really felt the community ethos here. I’ve learnt so much; coming to Christ Church was the best decision I made for my future.” – Chantel Dilip (Keyboard)


 

“This is the first time that I’ve taken part in a musical or any kind of production like this, inside or outside University. I’m usually more focussed on classical music, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been a real eye-opening experience for me. There’s been so much work that I’ve had to put in, but it’s been worth it and because of this experience I would definitely like to be involved in next year’s.” – Tim Whorlow (Keyboard)


 

“Chess was particularly challenging compared to last year’s musical, where I was mostly playing chords whereas this is much more lead work. The process has forced me to learn how to follow a conductor more and my reading ability, which is a weakness for me, has really improved due to being involved. I’ve loved the variety of the shows musically, Millie was a very Dixieland type of feel and Chess is so 80s – I’m growing a mullet specially.” – Carl Emery (Lead Guitar)


 

“In every other show I’ve ever played in, outside University, I’ve always had the main tune to learn, but this time I’ve been given the bass part which I’ve found really interesting and fun. This is the first musical I’ve been involved in at the University and I decided to do it partly because I miss playing in shows but also because I had never heard of Chess before, so I was really keen to see what it was like. Having enjoyed the experience, I will definitely be doing next year’s production.” – Natasha Conley (Saxophone)


“I’ve really enjoyed the musical; it’s my first year at Christ Church and I will definitely be doing it in my other years. It gives such an opportunity for progression as musicians, listening to how we played together in the first rehearsal to the final show week is such a transformation. To hear that difference, with everyone putting the hours in, and then bringing it together with the cast is something quite special.” – Richard Blake (Trumpet)


 

“I’m not a student or a staff member, but I heard a friend of mine (Ayla Wessels – Svetlana) was in this year’s musical which I then discovered was Chess. Chess is absolutely my favourite musical and I’ve always wanted to be involved in an orchestra in a production of it but never had the chance. I contacted the Musical Director on the off chance and enquired whether or not they would need another trumpet part and luckily they did. I had to audition, which was a great experience in itself and playing with such a big group of musicians on this scale has been wonderful. You just can’t beat it. If there was any chance Christ Church needed another trumpeter on next year’s production, I would more than happily volunteer again!” – Teresa Behrens (Trumpet)


Well done and thank you to all of the students and staff for all their hard work on this year’s production!

Photo Credits: Jason Dodd and Hannah Rothwell