Susannah Douch and her daughter enjoy the opening night of POP! at King Edward’s School, Bath

My daughter and I were fortunate enough to be offered tickets for the opening night of this new, innovative musical. The show ran for four evenings and was sold out for all performances.
The script was adapted from local author, Catherine Bruton’s 2011 novel, POP!, creating a fresh and contemporary musical. Music and lyrics were developed by King Edward’s music teacher, Mark Boden, alongside some school pupils.

Presented by King Edwards drama and music students aged 14-18, it showcased the many talents of these young performers. Students were involved in all aspects of the performance: lighting, sound, set and costume design, orchestra and performance.

The stage cleverly represented the different environments of the neighbourhood with a background of scaffolding and foreground of front doors through which each of the families play out their stories. At the very front of the stage, the garish and fake television world is represented via a Pop art catwalk. In addition, large television screens at the side played photo and video montages to accompany the storyline.

Set in an inner city in the midst of strikes, racism and recession, the musical follows the stories of three teenagers dreaming of a better life for themselves and their families. When the opportunity arrives to enter a television talent show, they enter secretly in the hope that the significant cash prize will realise their hopes and dreams. Of course their families discover the truth and after initial fireworks, their efforts serve to reunite the divided community.

It was both hilarious and heart-breaking, and has been likened to Billy Elliot meets the X factor via Shameless. At times it tugged at the heart-strings and the next making you laugh out loud. Indeed, the young girl sitting next to me did wipe a few tears away during the first half!

The audience ranged from juniors to grandparents; the show appeared to appeal to all at so many levels. Refreshingly, the songs continued to carry the story rather than simply being an add on, while the costumes were spot-on from trailer trash to OTT glitter! Catherine, the author, appeared rather anxious about how the show would be received, but she certainly shouldn’t have been, it was thoroughly entertaining and enthralling! All involved should be hugely proud of their hard work and achievements.