Riverside Boarding School...1950s...
The show opens with school assembly, where the New Headmaster Cedric Ironsides “welcomes” the new additions to the school; Girls and a council estate kid Billy. We all stand and sing the school song “Praise for the school” We are then introduced to the formidable school inspector Ms Sharp. Everyone exits leaving the Headmaster alone to admire himself in the mirror and sing “What a headmaster”, however the portraits on the wall have an entirely different story to tell.
The music lesson prepares the school for an upcoming National music competition and introduces us to Miss Green the music teacher. We hear a wonderful rendition of “Nymphs and Shepherds” by the girls choir with not quite so wonderful accompaniment by the boys on percussion instruments. The new “Rich” girl Charlotte is given Barb’s solo much to the disgust of her gang.
Playtime finds new boy Billy (Roy Rogers) at odds with bike shed gang leader Dwayne (Lone Ranger). Billy wins “High Noon” style face off and is initiated into the gang as their new leader. Nobody has done their Maths homework but as Dwayne sings;”Real cowboys shouldn’t have to do homework” (Big Cowboy dance number)
In the Maths lesson the boys are shocked to see that the new Maths Teacher Mr J B Goode dresses like Buddy Holly and teaches Maths with the aid of Rock and Roll. Song “Maths if you got the music”
The headmaster is not impressed. Charlotte receives a very expensive looking package from home provoking more bullying from Barb’s gang. She sings the ironic song “The most popular girl in the school”
Lunch time finds the horrendous Mr and Mrs Bates (School caretaker and cook) supervising the school dinners. As the only married couple living on the premises they have been asked to teach sex education!
They sing “Love to make e’m cry”
Act one ends in the playground with all the children enjoying 50’s style kids games and rhymes, until Ms Sharp and her gang of inspectors put a stop to all the fun with “Health and Safety rules and regulations”. Playground song “We’ll be jolly and we’ll be bright”
Act 2 opens with a PE lesson where we find the boys drooling over the girls exercise class “One, two, three four, work us hard we still want more” followed by Billy looking very foolish in front of Charlotte when he looses his shorts failing to climb one of the gym ropes.
While pretending to support the school, the headmaster is secretly planning with Ms Sharp (his new girlfriend) to get the school closed so they can sell the grounds to Tesco and retire. Song “Don’t give a damn about the kids”
Eddie is the 16 year old son of Mr and Mrs Bates. He uses the school boiler room to “entertain” gullible girls and rehearse his band, (the bike shed gang) They rehearse a shadows style number without Eddie, hoping to force him out of the band, then on his return sing and record his latest creation “Beautiful Angel”
Through the ventilation pipes the tape recorder also picks up the conversation between the Head and Ms Sharp. Mr Bates tells his son to putt the tape somewhere very safe. (top of the school flag pole)
Night time in the dorm finds Billy and the gang fantasising about imaginary girlfriends and sing “In the night, you can be what ever you want”
To help the Headmaster achieve his plan Eddie has asked Emma, Billy’s older sister, to plant some stolen exam papers in her brother’s desk. She is torn between loyalty to her brother and her boyfriend and sings “Which way should I go”
Little Wendy is Mr and Mrs Bates 6 year old daughter. She has a crush on Billy and tells him of the plan. The only way for Billy to prove his innocence and save the school is to climb the flag pole and retrieve the tape.
Billy is half way up the flagpole when he realises the enormity of his challenge. He pictures Eddie, the Head and Ms Sharp all telling him he is a waste of space and has no chance of getting to the top.
Then he hears the lone voice of Charlotte singing “If you truly believe” and soon the entire school is encouraging him in a huge gospel style anthem.
Billy succeeds in saving the school and the Head and Ms Sharp get their comeuppance, Miss Green is appointed the new head just in time for the Big Music competition. Riversides entry is “Nymphs and Shepherds” but Mr Goode turns it into a huge Rock and Roll number.
We finish with the gospel song “He’s only gone and saved the school” and the parody “I have a dream” where we reflect on what is really important in school education.
Unashamedly old-fashioned fun, there is something for everyone in this and it will be a shot-in-the-arm for theatregoers of all ages.