Take off delayed but Peter Pan extravaganza set to fly at Sheffield's City Hall

A highly anticipated spectacle involving a triple threat of singing, dancing, and acting will be brought to the City Hall next year as a Sheffield dance school present their production of Peter Pan.

By Kian Rains
Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 3:20 pm
Students at June D Gill Dance school will perform Peter Pan next year despite facing many setbacks.
Students at June D Gill Dance school will perform Peter Pan next year despite facing many setbacks.

June D Gill Dance school, which has been established in the Broomhill area of Sheffield for 50 years, will perform the magical story of Peter Pan next year despite many setbacks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of the dance school will take to the stage in July 2022 to sing, dance and act to their heart's content, following a specially adapted script of the children’s novel by J.M. Barrie, which follows the adventures of a free-spirited young boy who never grew up.

Although the performance has been delayed, it is anticipated to be a magnificent display, with all the ingredients needed for a truly unique experience, including professional sound, lighting and beautiful costumes.

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Peter Pan will be played by a boy who has attended the school for a long period.

June Gill said: “When we do our production it’s going to be magical; Peter Pan will be played by a boy who has been in my school, a very long time, a brilliant actor. My Captain Hook is commanding. We audition for all the principal parts in school, so it's not just a dancing show, there’s lib, there’s music, acting and dancing, sword fights.

“It's the magical fairy tale of Peter Pan, the story of the boy who never grew up, and it involves musical theatre, which is a triple threat of singing, dancing, and acting. There are many dance routines, and the script is specially adapted and written for the school.

“We're going to have professional sound, professional lighting, beautiful costumes, flying, but the best thing of all, no restrictions.”

The show was destined to go ahead in 2020, but after multiple lockdowns and stringent social distancing measures, it was unfortunately cancelled.

News of the cancellation came as a disappointment to students at the dance school after working tirelessly to put on a successful show, but, Principal June Gill has insisted that it is important to keep ‘spirits high’ ahead of the performance next year.

June said: “I announced it to my beautiful students under rolling tears, unfortunately. I wanted to be professional; I said 'okay guys, we have had a lovely lesson, you’ve seen all the routines'. I sat them down, and I said I have something to tell you, I tried to be optimistic, but I broke down and then nearly every student in the school broke down. I was left thinking to myself, how do I lift them again? So I have conceived this preview, which is tiding them over.”

The preview will be an opportunity for parents and those involved to see the hard work of the students who have overcome the adversity of the pandemic to contribute their time and skills.

June D Gill, who is a senior examiner and international dance examiner of the International Dance Teachers Association spoke about how music selections for her productions can enhance the on-stage performances, saying ‘music is a dancers inspiration.’ – in total, she has compiled 46 pieces of music for the Peter Pan production.

She said: “I start my shows 18 months before, compiling the music because music is a dancers inspiration. Without good music, It's no good, so I start with the music, and I like to sit in the studio on my own doing that. We’ve got a prologue where my grandson, who is at drama college in London, does a brief story of Peter Pan as an opening and sort of says, let’s see what happens. He just said to me, 'you are so creative, nanny'. I want a green light on the curtain before it opens, and even for the music backing this prologue, I wanted to have a sort of Disney type. I just searched and searched and searched. I just love choosing music.”

Throughout the lockdowns, the students also had to rehearse over zoom calls due to the Covid measures in place at the time.

Shows put on by the dance school are funded through events to raise money, but as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, their fundraising efforts for the upcoming production of Peter Pan came to a standstill.

Every two years, the pupils and staff work incredibly hard setting up fundraising events, such as bake sales, quiz nights, coffee mornings, discos, bag packing at local supermarkets.

These community events raise funds to create the most professional, artistically enhanced show productions for audiences to enjoy.

A Crowdfunder was set up in December 2020 to spread the word and raise funds online, whilst they were unable to host events in person.

They successfully raised £320 for backstage operation costs, such as lighting, sound, props and special effects. Most specifically, the flying apparatus for Peter Pan, Wendy, John & Michael – last year they managed to raise £2,000, which has already been spent on the costs for the latest production.

The show is all set to take place in July 2022 at The City Hall in Sheffield and promises to be an entertaining and magical experience for the audience present.

To find out more about the dance school and their upcoming productions, visit www.junedgillschoolofdance.co.uk/