Following the ground-breaking success of Repton School's recent performance of Frankenstein performed in the School's impressive 400 Hall Theatre, we caught up with Director of Drama at Repton School, Mr Jon-Paul Cooper-Richards, to find out about the school's forthcoming production of We Will Rock You. 

What inspired you to put on this production? 

With a two-year absence of live theatre due to the pandemic, it was my aim this year to give our returning audiences a theatrical spectacle. In the Michaelmas Term we presented ‘Frankenstein’, a thought-provoking piece of theatre where the ‘Creature’ stood as a metaphor for the fear of the ‘other’. Following this production, I wanted to present an alternative type of theatre, and who doesn’t love a musical? We Will Rock You features some of Queen’s biggest hits and is a production I have loved watching as a member of the audience many times. Musical Theatre offers us escapism and this hilarious, futuristic, musical comedy is one for our time: a fist-pumping, foot-stomping anthem to individuality.

Was the casting challenging?  Do you think you've found the perfect Freddie Mercury? 

The casting was extremely challenging, especially amongst the girls where a decision was made to split some roles to showcase the wealth of talent amongst the pupil body.

How long have rehearsals been underway for WWRY? 

Rehearsals commenced in January, with music, dance and acting coaching featuring as a daily activity over an intense 8-week schedule.

How big is the cast? 

There are 47 pupils in the cast, six onstage in the band, and a further 12 backstage (65 in total).

Do they come from all year groups? 

I am delighted that all year groups and all boarding houses are represented. It demonstrates the appetite there is for the arts here at Repton and is very encouraging to see the strength of talent coming up through the younger years as our Upper Sixth prepare to leave for universities all over the world - some to study film making in America. 

Are pupils working on all aspects of the production, including choreography, designing and building sets, lighting, musical production? 

There are pupils creating theatre in all aspects of the production, with pupils operating lighting and sound, and the running the stage management during the production. With the nature of the production being a musical, pupils have also supported with dance choreography, taking responsibility for coaching younger members of the cast.

Does the drama department collaborate closely with other departments in preparation for a production of this scale? 

As We Will Rock You is a Drama and Music collaboration, I have worked closely with Mr Richard Fairbrother, Repton's Head of Contemporary Music, who has led on the teaching of musical numbers, with both the rock band and vocalists, supported by other members of the music department. We have both worked together in the 400 Hall, bringing the auditorium to life with the sound of rock. Our DT and Textiles departments are also working hard to produce fantastic sets and costumes, with pupils involved in every aspect. 

Can the audience expect any surprises?

There is some imaginative use of projection throughout the production and well-choreographed dance scenes, so the audience is in for a real treat! 

Frankenstein set a very high bar in terms of the quality of the production - do you expect We Will Rock You to 'wow' the audiences in the same way? 

We Will Rock You is a different beast to ‘Frankenstein’ but will be equal in our determination to present a theatrical spectacular.

We Will Rock You is staged at Repton School's 400 Hall Theatre from Thursday 10 to Saturday 12 March 2022. Tickets can be purchased here:

Repton Box Office