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Bringing the House Down

12 February 2016

Down House triumphed at the annual House Performing Arts competition yesterday afternoon. Adjudicator, percussionist Callum Huggan, described Down's passionate performance of songs from Les Miserables as 'incredible' and called the arrangement, harmonies, solos and projection 'phenomenal'. Down's ensemble piece, 'Grenade', by Bruno Mars was also highly commended for its story telling. Down, who opened the show, set an exceptionally high standard for the afternoon, a challenge accepted by all of the House performances that followed.

Montreal followed Down's high drama with something completely different, first calming down and mashing up Justin Bieber and then tearing up the stage with an exuberant whole house rendition of 'Footloose', both performances were accompanied by mesmerising dancing. Mr Huggan was full of praise for the spell binding ballet performance which accompanied the ensemble and the near bionic back flipping performed during 'Footloose'.

Quebec stormed the stage with vivid costumes and props, temporarily transforming it into a 1950's TV set for their energetic rendition from Hairspray. Slick choreography, 'Wally-ised' lyrics and a 'special guest star' appearance from Mr Ledsham won Quebec the title 'Best Presented House'. The colourful, crowded stage was then cleared with one very brave soloist left to open Quebec's ensemble piece. In an original piece of directing the soloist was gradually joined by fellow members of the ensemble to sing an acapella version of One Direction's 'That's what makes you beautiful', an accompanying beat set by simple clapping.

The stage alone wasn't big enough to contain Dirty Dancing from Penshurst. The entire hall became the setting for the ambitious performance which included all of film's the iconic lifts and dance moves, so true to the original that it was as if the audience had been transported to the west end show. In contrast, Penshurst's ensemble piece was stripped back, their rendition of Maroon 5 accompanied only by body percussion tapping out the back beat which percussionist Mr Huggan 'applauded and greatly appreciated'.

Neon Knole cranked the tempo right back up again with a high octane performance of Fame, which was great fun and accompanied by breath-takingly impressive gymnastics and tumbling routines. Knole's ensemble took a different tone and pace altogether with a performance of 'Photograph, by Ed Sheeran which Mr Huggan described as "well-structured and atmospheric, a phenomenal performance and my favourite song of the afternoon", a fact recognised when it was awarded 'Best Ensemble'.

Chartwell closed the show in style with an ensemble piece of Rihanna songs, in an arrangement praised by Mr Huggan. They then ended the afternoon in style with their whole house performance from Annie, which demonstrated fantastic story telling through singing, choreography and a stand out guest appearance by Mr Hughes!

At the end of the afternoon, Mrs Milner, who makes no secret that House Performing Arts is one of her favourite occasions in the school calendar, said how proud she was of every student for the fantastically high standards of the performances, declaring this the best House Music competition she has seen.

The final results of the afternoon were as follows:

Best Presented House 
Winner: Quebec for Hairspray
Runner-up: Down for Les Miserables

Best Ensemble
Winner: Knole for 'Photograph', by Ed Sheeran
Runner-up: Penshurst for 'This Love' by Maroon 5

Best House Song
Winner: Down for Les Miserables
Runner-up: Penshurst for Dirty Dancing

House Performing Arts Cup
Winner: Down
Runner-up: Penshurst
Third place: Quebec