Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Estate musical went like a dream
Buy this photo » Zac Strong, eight, and Sheldon Smith, 17
THE dramatic tale of a coat of many colours has entertained residents on an Oxford estate with many talents.
A raucous three-night showing of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat ended in Blackbird Leys on Saturday with a spectacular finale.
The show featured actors, singers and dancers from the estate, and even the sets were put together by residents.
Like many performers, Blackbird Leys resident Andrew Pledge had never trod the boards, or even thought of it until he applied.
The 38-year-old enjoyed a star turn as the Pharaoh, complete with Elvis regalia and sunglasses.
He said: “The nerves were unreal. If you’d have seen us rehearsing a couple of weeks ago you wouldn’t have recognised the show, it seemed like it could easily have gone so wrong.
“But it came together and it was magic – wonderful. The amount of work the organisers put in was phenomenal.
“And how many times in life do you get to strut around as Pharaoh Elvis?
“The whole thing was a complete success and I, like everyone else, was proud to be a part of it. I’m quite a shy person usually, so it was totally out of my comfort zone.”
The idea of the show came about while mum-of-three Sasha East was painting her daughter’s bedroom and humming the tunes to the Andrew Lloyd Webber smash.
She pitched the idea to Blackbird Leys Parish Council, Leys Housing Consortium, Communities First, and Westhill Endowment, which joined together to give £5,000 in total.
Little did the 40-year-old realise how quickly her am-dram dream would snowball into a full-blown show.
Pupils from Pegasus School in Blackbird Leys, an amateur choir consisting of dads from the estate, and the Blackbird Leys choir, the renowned collective formed for a Channel Five TV show eight years ago, were also involved.
Musical director of the choir Trevor Davies shaped the soundtrack and stage directions, and a professional touch was added by the Oxford Theatre Guild which helped with directing, photography and sourcing costumes.
The Church of the Holy Family in Blackbird Leys Road rocked as hundreds packed in to watch.
Ms East said it was proof that Blackbird Leys was an ordinary estate which was capable of “extraordinary magic”.
“Considering the amount of people involved it went like a dream,” she added.
“There was a huge cast, not to mention the musicians, the choir, and all the people behind the scenes.
“A lot of people have made a lot of friends and it just shows how wonderful it can be to bring people together.”