Musical’s ROCK XIII – The Final Stand review

22nd May 2023

The town was ablaze with musical mastery as Stratford-upon-Avon College rocked the Playhouse with their end of year musical extravaganza; this year titled Musical’s ROCK – The Final Stand.

The College has brought this impressive spectacle to the stage 13 times; overall showcasing the talents of hundreds of students over the years from a range of Performing & Production Arts courses including Dance, Musical Theatre, Backstage Production Arts and Music Performance & Production and performing for nearly 11,000 audience members.

This year’s show, Musical’s ROCK – The Final Stand, brought the music of six different musicals to the stage including: Jesus Christ Superstar, Moulin Rouge, Little Shop of Horrors, Come From Away, SIX and We Will Rock You.

Students performing We Will Rock You

Starting with an exquisite light and sound display operated by Backstage Production Arts students and a stunning AV display created by student Charlotte Manly, the audience were taken through the years of Musical’s ROCK shows before the Music students took their places in the centre of the stage.

What followed was performance perfection as the students danced, played and sang their way through a beautiful array of classic Musical Theatre hits against a gorgeous setting of lights, haze and digital backdrops.

Every single student shone bright like a diamond during the performance and solidified the College’s reputation as a top training facility for the arts.

The first song was Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar and led by student Charlotte Gibbons. Her impressively powerful vocals were the first of many showstopping performances. This year’s cohort boast an impressive amount of female powerhouses who didn’t fail to stun and slay at every turn.

Student singing Heaven On Their Minds
Charlotte Gibbons performed an impressive rendition of Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar

The trio, Emily Caver, Summer Lightwood and Leila Parker, who introduced Moulin Rouge with the captivating Lady Marmalade number had the audience up on their feet. The sparkling diamond Satine played by student Carmen Pascolutti led a toe-tapping medley from the show that proved that talent rather than diamonds are a girls best friend. The entire Moulin Rouge section of the show also allowed the Dance students to shine: the energy and poise during the hit Backstage Romance number showed energy and skill and the dancers got the crowd dancing in their seats!

Top Left: The Lady Marmalade Trio. Top Right: Carmen Pascolutti as Satine. Bottom Left: The dance students in Backstage Romance. Bottom Right: Students in Moulin Rouge

Foundation in Musical Theatre student Charlotte Hurley sang a stunning solo in Come From Away called Me And The Sky. This performance was a real highlight and is a true reminder of where the next generation of West End stars are coming from as her control and precision as she belted out incredible notes was a joy to listen to.

Charlotte Hurley in Come From Away
Charlotte Hurley in Come From Away

The epitome of girl power came in the second half when the Foundation in Musical Theatre students performed songs from the hit musical SIX: based on Henry VIII’s six wives. Top vocals, stunning costume and slick dance moves made this section a real stand out segment.

The Foundation in Musical Theatre students were incredible in their numbers from SIX

The whole show gave the audience variety with its range of musical theatre styles, and it was a testament to the amazing music department to effortlessly move through the genres and create the exquisite soundtrack; especially with the impressive guitar solos played by James Bullough and Kristian Davies.

Music students James Bullough and Kristian Davies played epic guitar solos throughout the show

Other notable performances included Andrew Docherty who embodied the sweet natured Seymor in Little Shop of Horrors as well as leading Bad Romance from Moulin Rouge with confidence and swagger. Also, Billy Lambert, who showed charisma and great vocal talent whenever he took to the stage, was a shining star. Finishing the show with We Are the Champions, Billy embodied Freddy Mercury himself as he strode across the stage, a mesmerising performance.

Pictured left: Andrew Docherty. Pictured right: Billy Lambert

As in previous years, the students were joined by college alumni to finish the show, this year with a rendition of Purple Rain. However, being the Final Stand, rather than just one alumnus, the college welcomed thirteen of its former students who had participated in various incarnations of Musical’s ROCK over the years; a poignant and moving conclusion.

It truly was a show to remember that showcases the next generation of performers. Stratford-upon-Avon has a history of being the starting ground for many a top performer and this production proved that a thousand times over. And if it really was Musical’s ROCK’s Final Stand, then boy, did it go out with a bang!

Check out some photos from the show!

Find out more about the College’s Performing & Production Arts courses: SUAC Onstage