Fairfields junior school in Basingstoke, Hampshire is thinking big for its school musical, Barnum, which features 500 pupils, aged four to 11. The school has booked one of the West End's largest venues, the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, with an audience capacity of more than 2,000, to stage the production which will take place in March of next year.
The school's headteacher Andy Harrington told the Daily Telegraph that they were unable to find any suitable space locally so they turned to London -- though not initially the Theatre Royal. "I decided that where we really wanted to put it on was the London Palladium but there wasn't enough backstage space there. They said we needed the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. We booked it on the spot."
The school is sparing no expense. The theatre rental will cost £9,000 and transportation another £8,000. The cast and their parents will be bussed to London in a convoy of 53 coaches. Not to worry though. Ticket sales to families have already covered the costs; profits, which will be donated to a local children's hospice, are expected to be around £4,000.
Though casting is yet to be finalised, each of the school's pupils is guaranteed at least three on-stage appearances. "Everyone has got a sense of excitement about it," Harrington said. "We have already got an awful lot of mums making costumes and I have 500 kids in school learning how to juggle. Nobody is left out."