SPECTACLE OF THE LION KING GOES BEYOND THE STAGE
As a former pupil of William Ransom, I know what it feels like to be stood at the top of the stairs, with
the hall a deathly quiet before the lights burn bright upon the stage and the music kicks in. I know
what it feels like to be walking towards the bottom of the stairs, wondering if you’re going to
remember your lines, the songs, the choreography, and make sure that it all looks completely
effortless. I know what it’s like to spend month after month learning line after line, day after day. Yet
this year, there was something entirely different.
With Disney recognising the theatrical ability within the school and offering the chance to perform The Lion
King, there was a step up to be made. For this year, there was an unfound responsibility bestowed upon the
school; one that had the potential to destroy everything that had gone before in the 31 years a summer
production has been running, or allow the school to reap the rewards, and become the absolute pinnacle of
William Ransom drama productions. And it was most definitely the latter.
What was seen on stage over three sweltering evenings in July speaks volumes of the school: no task is too
big; there’s a hell of a lot of talent bred through the years; and there’s a team backstage that come to the
rescue whenever called for.
What started as a phone call six months ago became a mammoth task of getting it right. Mrs Driver
approached her team, and began to piece together a show on a scale never before seen on that wooden
stage. From speaking to Mrs Mackilligan and Miss Ayliffe about how best to produce the show, to requesting
costumes with Mrs Grundon, Mrs Wagstaffe and Mrs Burr, to sorting scenery with Miss Eldridge, music with
Mr Farrington and sorting ticketing with Mrs Massey and Mrs Hopcraft… The list of jobs that needed
undertaking was endless, but with parent help and more hands on deck than any production has seen, it got
But without the children, the efforts of staff and parents would have been entirely unfruitful. This year, more
than any, there was a complete glut of stage talent. Whilst there are too many names to mention here (check
your programmes for just how many!), there were some outstanding performances seen throughout the
week, in particular those from Martha Reilly, as Rafiki, and Omar Ettienne-Tyson & Jean-Claude Aka, both as
Simba. Having said that, every child with a lead role completely excelled in their given part, and whilst many
are moving on to pastures new, those that are with William Ransom a few more years, like Sophia Leete and
Craig Rafferty, have a big future, both on a school stage and beyond.
However, there isn’t just sixteen children in lead roles involved. The magic of The Lion King comes from the
scale of the production, and with the number of children becoming giraffes, zebras, elephants, cheetahs,
antelopes, leopards, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, and the all-important grasslands, the box was ticked and the
show was complete. Those that saw it will agree with me – it’s not just how big and sparkly a production can
be, but how much the children enjoy it, and with the number of smiles seen throughout, we can firmly agree
that goal was met, too.
There’s a fine line between dedication and obsession, but each and every member of the team that
created The Lion King crossed it time and time again. Putting on a production with 140 children all so excited
to get on the stage takes a lot of time and effort, and whilst not every job is pleasant, and whilst some are
laborious beyond belief, they need to be done.
Whether it involves the normal jobs of bucket duty, sound mixing, and getting every child in their place, in the
right costume, at the right time, or the slightly more strange jobs we saw this year, with trailing mic leads,
fused stage lights, and fainting parents, there was always someone on hand to get it sorted quickly and
efficiently. The sheer fact that members of staff and those involved behind the scenes volunteer to do so to
make sure things run as they should shows just how dedicated a team the school have at their disposal. And
that’s something very special.
To me, what singles out William Ransom as the best school in the land is something very simple, yet
completely unheard of in a primary school: fearlessness. No task is too big, as this proves unequivocally.
What The Lion King represents isn’t just that there are some very talented children with bright futures ahead,
nor that there are artistic parents, teachers that work tirelessly, or musicians that are willing to give up their
time for free, but that at William Ransom, no-one is left alone. The greatest triumph that has appeared from
this summer is the team of pupils, parents and teachers that have come together in unity to put this show