Ollie Wheeler, a final year Performing and Production Arts student, has a personal investment in Thomas Hardy’s classic tale, having performed and sang in the musical version’s official run at Theatre Royal Winchester in August 2017 and in London's West End in 2018.
The Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts is run by Rugby College, one of seven colleges that are part of Warwickshire College Group (WCG) - and is officially awarded by University of Arts London (UAL).
Ollie said: “Being on stage in the West End was an amazing and surreal experience for me that I’ll never forget. It’s a real privilege to now be a part of another run of the show, this time with my fellow college students.
“I set my heart on returning to the show that’s given me so much after finding out about the opportunity on my course to put forward a musical to perform for my Final Major Production (FMP). I started preparations last summer by contacting Jon Bromwich, Executive Producer at British Youth Musical Theatre (BYMT) to ask permission to put on the show.
“It’s important when putting on any show that you have the rights to reproduce something, and thankfully BYMT, Gerry Flanagan, Director and Pippa Cleary, song writer allowed me to go ahead and kindly provided me with the full script, backing tracks and lyrics. I can’t thank them all enough.
“We’re now pulling out all the stops to make the show a success and showcase the breadth of acting talent at Rugby College. We can’t wait to get started.”
As part of the selection process, final year students put forward a musical of their choice for their FMP. Out of five proposals submitted, Ollie’s pitch for Tess of the D’Urbervilles was chosen by both tutors and students.
Hayley Glover, Lecturer & Course Leader at Rugby College, said “This is a huge project for the final year students because it’s a graded aspect of their course. They’re responsible for every aspect of putting the production together from directing, choregraphing, sound and lighting, costume and set design, promotion as well as rehearsing tirelessly to perform in the show itself.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product, and I’m sure the students are going to put on a fantastic show.”
Tickets for the production, described as a powerful, vibrant and spellbinding musical adaptation, are now available, and are priced at £7.50 for adults and £5 for concessions (children, OAPs & students).
Members of the public can prebook tickets now and pay cash on the door on the night by emailing Hayley Glover at firstname.lastname@example.org
All proceeds are reinvested into putting on future shows produced by the college.