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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

An audience is to be led into a fantasy forest and a magical world of mythical creatures as students prepare to stage a seasonal spectacular.

Actors at The King’s Academy, in Coulby Newham, are bringing the much-loved book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to life.

The story by CS Lewis, which was first published in 1950, sees four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, evacuated to the countryside from London during the Blitz.

In the house where they are staying, they find a magic wardrobe that is a portal to the land of Narnia, inhabited by a faun called Tumnus, a White Witch and Aslan the lion.

It is the first time in five years that the academy’s main production has been a play rather than a musical and the drama has required the students to take on challenges including stage combat.

Ryan Clarke, 16, who plays Peter, said:

It’s so different to anything we’ve done before. This is also the biggest role I’ve had and it’s a smaller main cast so there are more lines to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Alicia Glasgow, 15, who is the White Witch, added:

The fact that it’s a play means you can come at it from a different perspective and use more techniques as an actor to express the character, rather than relying on songs.”

The other students in principal roles are Daniel Yellow, 14, as Edmund, Amy Percival, 14, as Susan, Rachel Geddes, 13, as Lucy, and Rhys Lewis, 16, who plays Aslan.

A team of staff and students have been working behind the scenes including assistant vice principal Carey Brownless, who has produced costumes for the principal characters as well as the Queen’s and Aslan’s armies and 20 creatures including a centaur, unicorn, beaver, wolves, squirrels and rabbits.

Head of Art Kevin Morris and teacher Claire Johnston created the set, which was designed by sixth former student Coleena Collins.

Head of Drama and show director Eddie Jones said:

As always, it’s been a huge team effort and everyone has pulled together to make it happen.

“It’s been great to set the students a different challenge of still engaging an audience without being able to rely on songs and dance. There’s been a lot more dialogue and new techniques to learn and the passion of the students for their work has really shone through.”

The show runs from November 21-23 at 7pm except for the Wednesday performance, which starts at 6pm. The Thursday show will be a signed performance to assist audience members who have a hearing impairment.

Tickets cost £3.50 for adults, £2.50 for concessions and a family ticket of up to two adults and three children for £10, available from the academy reception.

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Combined Cadet Force

ROYAL Marine Cadets are on the march ensuring their sixth form centre is ready for inspection.

The Combined Cadet Force is mobilising the troops as The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, prepares to open the doors to its sixth form to the public.

Prospective sixth formers and their families will be able to visit from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on November 8 to gain an insight into life in further education.

Almost all of last year’s cohort from The King’s Academy applied to university, with 90 per cent gaining their first choices, half of them at the top Russell Group establishments. Others secured apprenticeships or took gap years.

Head of sixth form Trevor Starkey said:

We are really looking forward to opening our doors so students and their families can meet our specialists, gain an invaluable student perspective, tour our facilities and explore the broad curriculum on offer.”

Vice principal for ethos and community Simon Coe said the CCF was a great example of how students were offered opportunities that developed their characters, self-confidence and leadership skills and enhanced their personal statements and CVs.

We have such a wide variety of courses, from STEM to the arts, music performance and technology to business, and the academy prides itself on offering a balance of provision and care. There is something here for everyone as well as excellent leadership development, with the likes of CCF and work experience programmes, and enrichment,” said Mr Coe.

The Royal Marines Cadet Force was launched at The King’s in September, the idea of principal David Dawes, a former officer in the British Army, as part of a national expansion programme in state schools.

Senior school instructor and former Royal Marine colour sergeant Trevor Calvert said there had been massive interest and a great response with a full contingency of 38 signing on.

We have 11 NCOs, who will act as section leaders for the other students, who have undergone training at the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre.”

For Colour Sergeant Jack Batt, 18, of Coulby Newham, the CCF offers the first step towards his dream job as a fast jets pilot.

I am aiming to join the RAF to fly Typhoons or F35 stealth fighters,” he said. “I’ve wanted to achieve this ambition since I watched a Typhoon race a Bugatti Veyron on Top Gear and the CCF experience will really help my personal statement.”

For Sgt Amelia Farrow, 17, of Linthorpe, the CFF provided a natural development route from her time with Explorer Scouts.

I thought it would be a great way to learn new skills and boost my confidence and leadership qualities,”

said Amelia, an accomplished cross-country runner, who joined The King’s Academy sixth form from another school.

It is great being a sergeant as it means I can be a role model for other girls. I love the structured nature of our sixth form as it allows me to focus on the grades I will need to go to Durham University to study sport and exercise science, before working in the sports industry.”

  • For more information on the sixth form open evening, contact Mr Starkey on 01642 577577.