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Joyful Performance Showcases Just What These Students Have Missed Most During Pandemic

Tollbar Academy and Sixth Form College students who delivered ‘The Greatest Show’ to their first public audience in two years. Pictured with them are show organisers and Academy Interim Principal Victoria Watts.

Tollbar Academy students took to the stage to break a two-year performance hiatus and deliver a spectacular show for parents, friends and family.

The students were so keen to show off what they had been working on throughout the Covid pandemic restrictions that they devoted every night of their spare time to rehearsals, with the show being planned and rehearsed only in after school clubs to avoid any disruption to normal lessons.

‘The Greatest Show’ was a tribute to Christmas, musical theatre and pop tunes delivered by dancers, vocalists, musicians and cheerleaders in every year group, including Tollbar MAT Sixth Form College students.

There were some stand-out performances and, at times, there was complete silence from the audience with only whispers of ‘how talented are they’ breaking through.

The show began with a candlelit procession through the hall by Tollbar Academy Singers, whose gorgeous harmonies for ‘The First Noel’ were accompanied by Tollbar Strings.

Next came Tollbar Dance Captain Ruby Bearup, who gave an accomplished contemporary performance to ‘The Sound Of Silence.’

Fans of Hairspray got a real treat when The Dance Club shook up the hall with denim shorts and t-shirts and glittery red bows in their hair as they twisted along to ‘The Nicest Kids In Town.’

The Dance Team turned the heat up further with ‘A Fergie Medley,’ followed by Tollbar Academy Singers, whose 27 members brought the festive season to the stage in reindeer antlers and santa hats.

The festive theme continued with a beautiful rendition of “The Christmas Song’ by talented Year 12 A Level student, Casey Foyle. 

Fellow A Level student Aurelia Pearson, who won the Inter-House Dance Competition this year, stood out in her striking red costume for a graceful and artistic contemporary performance to Ellie Goulding’s ‘Joy.’

Young cheerleaders Tollbar Tigers showcased their agility, synchronicity and showmanship performing to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Bad Habits.’ The young squad showed just how hard they have been practising as they tumbled confidently across the floor. 

Vocalist and performing Arts student Honey Hollingsworth performed ‘No Time To Die’ accompanied on the piano by Josh Young, a Year 12 A Level Music student, who gave flawless support. Honey held the audience spellbound with her haunting voice.

Tollbar Academy Singers got the audience tapping along to their version of the African piece ‘Amani Utupe’ by Patsy Ford Simms, which combines English and Swahili.

The spotlight fell on Performing Arts student Isabella Rowson next as she sang ‘Ave Maria.’ Her accomplished vocals and heartfelt delivery held the audience transfixed and earned her huge applause.

All of the acts performed at least twice during the hour-long show and there were two full show performances during the day and into the evening to cater for the large number of audience members and keep everyone safe.

Show organisers - PE Teachers Lydia Moore and Deanna Black and Music Teacher James Longden - were thrilled to have been able to bring the show to the stage after such a lengthy performance break. They had hoped that students would also be able to deliver the performance to local feeder primary schools who had been invited into the Academy, but the return of Covid restrictions made that impossible. 

Year 11 Performing Arts student Miles Oliver was praised for delivering the lighting for the entire show.

Afterwards, Lydia Moore said: “This is the first time because of Covid restrictions that we have been able to put on a show for an audience, and it is such a big thing for the students to be back on the stage. It has brought the whole school community together and given them the opportunity to showcase what they have been working on all of this time. 

“I am so proud of their commitment to this show. They have not hesitated in devoting all of their free time to rehearse, even on Friday evenings for weeks now, and you could see today just how much they enjoyed being back up on the stage.

“It is so important for these musicians and performers to have an audience, at least from from time to time, to help increase their confidence and show them that what they have been working on is appreciated. We have some very talented young students here and I am thrilled that they have been able to show that today.”

Victoria Watts, Interim Principal of Tollbar Academy, watched the show from the audience. “How wonderful it is to see the students performing again on stage,” she said. “We are all so proud of them and particularly of their commitment to this amazing show alongside their studies.”

Above and below: Dancers and cheerleaders take to the stage for ‘The Greatest Show.’

Above and below: The Dance Team performs a contemporary dance to ‘A Fergie Medley.’ 

Tollbar Academy Singers kicked off the show with the ‘The First Noel.’

Dance Captain Ruby Bearup performs to ‘The Sound Of Silence.’

Above and below: The Dance Club performs ‘The Nicest Kids In Town’ from Hairspray.

The Dance Team performs ‘A Fergie Medley.’

Inter-House Dance Winner Aurelia Pearson performed to ‘Joy.’

Performing Arts student Honey Hollingsworth sings ‘No Time To Die’ accompanied on piano by A Level Music student Josh Young.

Tollbar Tigers show off their cheerleading skills.

Tollbar Academy Singers perform a festive medley.

Performing Arts student Isabella Rowson gives a beautiful performance of ’Ave Maria.’

The Dance Club performs ‘Revolting Children’ from the musical Matllda.

A Level student Casey Foyle sings ‘The Christmas Song’ to an appreciative audience.

The Dance Team performs to ‘The Power Of Love.’

The Dance Team in full flight.

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Tollbar Academy Interim Principal

Victoria Watts