Shakespeare’s tragic tale of teenage love Romeo and Juliet is being staged by Scalby School – and a Coronation Street star popped in to help.
Sam Aston, who plays Chesney, gave acting tips, posed for photos and signed autographs.
The school also received a visit from associate director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre Henry Bell, who shared his knowledge and advice.
The Bard’s love story is a change of pace for the school which has previously staged musicals – including Les Miserables and Miss Saigon – in the February slot at the Stephen Joseph.
Head of drama Stacey Buric said: “My background is in the classics and the rudiments of acting technique. I felt compelled to explore this kind of work at Scalby since the students have for many years concentrated on and mastered musical theatre performances, which is a very different art form.
“It seems to me that Scarborough has its fair share of musical theatre companies and amateur dramatic societies and I wanted to offer the students something different to broaden their skill sets.
“I also wanted students to foster a love of Shakespeare and open up their understanding of the power behind his language and its relevance to our society today.”
Stacey trained as an actress and worked with Chris Monks, the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph. She has chosen a modern setting for the story of the warring Montagues and Capulets whose children fall in love.
“I decided to adopt a contemporary setting but keeping all traditional language. The music is a mixture of new compositions, written by students and staff with current music industry standards, which will enhance the mood and atmosphere of the play,” she said.
“The two feuding families have subtle differences in their appearances, the Capulets taking on a darker, edgier look to the Montagues’ casual day wear.”
More than 80 youngsters, aged from 11 to 16, are taking part either in backstage, band or acting.
“We have tried to offer the lead roles out to students who have not had that opportunity before,” said Stacey.
She was thrilled that Corrie star Sam was able to share his experiences.
“As we have so many budding actors within the cast, Sam came to answer any questions about how to become an actor, life on the set on Coronation Street and to give the students an insight into the industry.
“He was so generous with his time and the students were really excited to meet him and asked well thought-out, probing questions to help them understand the job of an actor,” said Stacey.
Henry presented a workshop on Shakespeare in the round, looking specifically at sight-lines and treatment of language. “It was a great opportunity for the students to ask questions and further their understanding of the role or moment being rehearsed,” she said.
Stacey knows she has a tough act to follow. “I came to see Miss Saigon and thought it was fantastic, but as everyone keeps reminding me, the previous performing arts department had 10 years to reach that level of performance and we have had a term.
“Also, we are taking on a whole new challenge with Shakespeare which requires a completely different set of skills.
“What I can be sure of, is that the students will not disappoint. They have worked so hard to overcome any fears about the language of Shakespeare and honed their skills brilliantly. This, coupled with our experience in industry should make for a powerful production.”